The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

To freeze or not to freeze...yeast

Paddyscake's picture

To freeze or not to freeze...yeast

that is the question. I finally found a 1 lb package of SAF yeast. I'm wondering how do I store it, once open. One site said not to freeze, KA site says to freeze. Also, in what type of container..ziplocked, vacuum sealed etc. Thanks

Wayne's picture

I have kept my SAF instant yeast in the freezer for 2 or 3 has never failed to activate and raise my bread.  I take it straight from the freezer and add to the dough mixture.  I keep it in a stainless container with a gasket and snap lock ring.



Liam's picture

Hi there

I store my bags of instant yeast in the freezer.  I transfer the contents of the bag into a snap-top type 1 pint preserving jar, stick it in the freezer. I take it out, take out my measure and pop it right back in the freezer.  Mine is still fine after about three years. The contents of the jar essentially never thaw so it  stays preserved.

Hope this helps


lynnebiz's picture

Same here - I've stored my instant dry yeast in the freezer with no problem having it last for 2 to 3 years. The most recent purchase was 2 lbs I shared with my daughter - and I always mix it with the flour and other dry ingredients, too.

At first I just kept it in a zip lock bag, but recently (took a while for that lightbulb to go on over my head, lol), I keep it in a small, glass jar I reused.

I never had a problem with my yeast dying on me - I save money by buying it in bulk (last time I got it at a local B.J.'s, before that, at Costco's) - I got 2 lbs for about $3.50!

pixielou55's picture


What is SAF yeast? Is it better than what I get at the health food store?



Paddyscake's picture

is the brand name. To tell you the truth, I don't remember who said this was the yeast to use. I do know that people I highly respect as our premiere bread bakers here at TFL do use this brand, although, I and many others now make mostly naturally leavened bread. I have no idea what type of yeast you are getting at your health food store, but if you are happy with it, that's great.


demegrad's picture

Yeast has basically an infinite life, but it depends on lots of things.  But storing in the freezer should fix nearly all of them.  You have wayne's experience above, and it's worked for him.   I would add that if you are using the yeast a lot you may benefit from putting a little in a container and just keeping in the fridge just to avoid having to expose a large amount of yeast over and over again to the humidity in the air.  And it seems to be more convenient.  If you have a food saver type vacuum packaging device go ahead and use it, I do, but it's not needed and definitely don't buy a vacuum device speiifically for this purpose, but if you got it go ahead. 


Paddyscake's picture

I do have a vacuum storing device..with canisters. After sealed, would I keep them in the fridge or could I keep it on the shelf?

bottleny's picture

What I do is put the yeast in several small containers (in 100 ml) and put all of them in the freezer (you can label them with the date too). When I need it, I just spoon a little from one container. This way, I can still use the yeast even after one year or more. Very convenient.

zolablue's picture

On page 61 of Bread Baker's Apprentice, Peter Reinhart states that some people think it kills the yeast to store it in the freezer but that he has done it for over a year's time, in an airtight container, with no discernable loss of potency.

weavershouse's picture

 I always freeze yeast and use it right out of the freezer without any problem. I use a screw top canning jar to hold the yeast.                     weavershouse

Paddyscake's picture

Into the freezer it will go.

Uisgea's picture

I think that it comes down to a matter of your own convenience, really.


If you bake an enormous amount, and would benefit from having an open bin of yeast within arm's reach, by all means--do it.  The yeast won't suffer.  Wholesale  and commercial bakeries do it as a matter of course.


If, on the other hand, you bake relatively infrequently (relative to a mass bakeshop), you are, I think, perfectly fine with frozen yeast.


The wee yeasties are out of your way then, and they certainly don't seem to suffer from the chill.


For crude biological organisms, they have some pretty highly evolved survival mechanisms--they seem, by my experience, to do well whether frozen or at room temp.


Do what you will, in other words--the yeast won't mind.




Toots's picture

I recently purchased some fresh yeast from my local bakers which I cut into one ounce portions and then froze.  However, on defrosting I found that the yeast turned into a thick liquid.  Any comments?  Has anyone else experienced this happening to frozen fresh yeast and, if so, is it still usable in this form?

dougal's picture

Quite simply, "fresh" (or rather compressed) yeast is not a product for storing.


Its cheap, which is attractive to commercial bakers. But commercial bakers use it up quickly -- they don't have to store it because they consume it quickly and get frequent deliveries.


The lousy storage qualities were the reason for the development of dried yeasts.

There are different types of dried yeast - and their product names are unhelpful. 


The earliest dried yeasts offered for sale were heat dried ("actively dried"). This gave a product that stored very well, for a long time, but actually had about 1/3 of its yeast cells killed either by the drying or the rehydration.

Its a sort of "ship's biscuit" - a product whose indestructability in storage is its principal attribute.

This type of product can be identified by the packet instructions specifying mixing it with some warm water before use. 

This product has a lot in common with slightly stale 'fresh' yeast, which is also rich in dead yeast cells. The dead cells make for a 'yeasty' taste and smell, and make the dough weaker but more extensible -- which might be ideal for pizza, but not much else.  

But its still found in many stores and recipes.  


The modern dried yeasts are produced by vacuum drying - and just as with ancient and modern instant coffees, the newer tech gives a better product that stores almost as well as the old one. And they have fewer dead cells than most people's 'fresh' yeast.

These are best described as 'instant mix' yeasts.  

Unfortunately, some of them incorporate a cocktail of 'improvers' that I find undesireable, even if they do give a better result in bread-making machines.

You have to read the small print on the labels to find one without all the improvers. The instructions for these modern dried yeasts will specify mixing the yeast powder (or rather tiny grains) with the dry flour - and that is the best way to use them.

Again unfortunately, the manufacturers often specify using an excessive quantity of these products. Use no more than 1/3 of the quantity that a recipe specifies for fresh yeast, ideally a touch less than that. Typically the USA instructions will talk about a "more rapid action, 30% faster rising" and such nonsense. This is simply encouraging you to use more of their product! Don't! Bread benefits from slow rising, using less yeast. Time is an important ingredient, and despite the hype, there are no short cuts. Speed is NOT an advantage of this type of yeast - when its used properly - regardless of the claims. 

Many manufacturers use the identical strain of yeast for their fresh and instant mix products. So its actually exactly the same yeast, just prepared using new technology for easy convenient storage.

For home baking, with the cost of the yeast being pretty insignificant, it makes sense to use the product better suited to occasional, small quantity, baking - even if it does cost a fraction more. At least there should be no wastage whatever. Surplus content of open packs can be stored in a closed glass jar in the fridge for months, with no problem whatever.


"Fresh yeast" is about 2/3 water. If the manufacturers thought it could be frozen successfully, without damaging the yeast cells, don't you think they'd be freezing it (under ideal conditions at the factory) and selling it from the display freezer, alongside the frozen peas?  

Toots's picture

Thank you Dougal for your reply.

After looking at various other websites, cookery books etc. which gave conflicting reports, your explanation was very clear and comprehensive and, certainly, made a lot of sense.  Thank you very much for your advice.


Magrat's picture

I have always frozen my yeast and it has kept for years.  There was a time I did little or no baking for over 2 years, and the yeast I had worked just fine when I tested it.  I just leave it in the jar it came in, on the shelf in the door of my freezer. 

Sparkie's picture

Yeasties can survive the reeze very nicely provided there is no free water available. The freezing spears the yeast cells killing them, or engulfs them and crushes them to death, hence the goo that is left from frosen "Fresh" yeast.


if you have a vacumn bag sysstem, I was told that is the best way to keep yeast, and storing it in the fridge is the best place. Although the gent on the help desk added, if you can really vacum seal it w/o heat, you could just leave it itn the cubbord , although most people can not do that, so the party line is not freezer, but in the fridge. At Fleishmans, there can be a varient from active to fresh yeast, and it is indistinguishable to us, you need a microscope. The active dry and rapid rise are identicle, and ther is no difference in cell counts.

 They process it two-threeways, all describe above, that is as a block as fresh yeast, very perishable, and two dry. One is  pelletised and can be dropped into 115 degree water. the other is extruded and dried and has no buffer, so cooler water, like heads should prevail.

I have been buying red star in two pound vacumn bags and I put yeat in plastic veg bags then a chinese take out soup container and stored successfully for 1.5 -2 years. I will ditch it at 1.5-1.75 If I notice it takes too long to proof.


I recently bought Fleishmans in 1# bags (a two fer, no choice). Then an unseen chinese container FULL of yeast magically appeared in my freezer, ggrrrr. I guess I knead t make more bread and inspect my "science experiments" more often! Since did not .

Yeast is so cheap like this I do not mind ditching an underperformer. Now it has risen in price, but when I started a 3 packet strip (.75 of ounce), was $2.85 , a 32 ounce bag was $2.85, duh, but I had to get someone get it for me from Costco.

 Now a 2 pound pack, is $3.86 and a 3 pack strip is $2.90. Amazing price diff.


Pickles's picture

Don't put fresh yeast in kitchen foil to freeze. When thawed it's liquid and dead. A sad view and really disappointing  as I had all the ingresients for a delicious prawn pizza and now I need to figure something else out.

rossb's picture

I started using fresh yeast about a year ago and won't use anything else now. You can get a 1 lb. block from the bakery of your local Whole Foods store for about $2. I get one every 2 -3 weeks and toss what I don't use after that. Hate to toss it, but it's less than a buck's worth. Seems to be great for the compost pile too! Haven't tried to freeze it.

Pickles's picture

Indeed, that's what i'd been doing, just throw the rest away, what a waste... It's only £1 I know, but still. I'll try storing it in a screw top jar.

SusanWozniak's picture

I store mine in a stainless steel canister that I bought somewhere long ago.  The canister is ideal, a nice stiff container that is easy to scoop yeast from, directly out of the freezer.  Used it for years.

allysnina's picture

Yes, I too, freeze yeast and have never had a problem...I've actually had my yeast in the freezer for 3 years that I bought from Sam's Club...just the other day I debated tossing it but figured I'd use it one more time, and low and behold it was perfectly fine....but I'm thinking I should still toss it because it surely will fail soon!

ebevill's picture

Hi everyone!

As a newbie, I stll struggle with dough rising.  I bought  a jar of Fleishman yeast for bread machine and convention ovens, however the yeast still does not activate. I use 1tsp of yeast to 1 cup of warm water.  Is this right?

Paddyscake's picture

which I believe is bread machine yeast, does not have to be activated in water. You can just add it directly to the flour. You could activate it in warm water, it won't hurt. The temp of the water shouldn't be over 110 deg.


Yumarama's picture

I was having problems rising the bread and I thought perhaps my jar of Instant yeast (same as bread machine, different name is just a marketing ploy) was just a bit old, I'd had it for a while. I tested a bit, about what you used, in a cup of warm water and... nothing much.

So the next time I was by the local bulk store, I grabbed about a half cup of Instant yeast and came home expecting this to work great. I decided to test that too  and lo and behold, same result. Barely any sign of activity. I figured maybe the stuff at the bulk store might have sat around too long too.  

So off I went to the grocery store and bought a fresh jar of yeast, came home and did a test. Nope, no activity to speak of. Then I thought maybe the water needs to be hotter. Tried again and still not much but a little bit better. Figuring I already had plenty of yeast to experiment with, I went all out and used very hot tap water. 

Blammo, that did the trick. Tried it with all three containers and they all worked. So it seems Instant yeast likes it rather hot before it kicks in, much hotter than Acrive Dry. Now I don't recall specifically what that temp was - this was a long while back - but I know it was probably at or a bit over 110ºF. You might want to do a test yourself and see. 

My conclusion was, however, that Instant yeast, since it doesn't need to be activated (ergo the "INSTANT" part of the name) can just go in the dough directly and I'll let the oven give it the right temp.

deblacksmith's picture

I am late to this thread but find it interesting that while lots of folks have good results with freezing instant yeast the manufactures do not recommend it as a storage method. They don't recommend against it either. They just recommend keeping it in a seal container in the refrigerator. I keep mine in the refrigerator and I use a pound in less than a year. Dave

Paddyscake's picture

This was my question way back when I was first starting to bake bread (2007). I have since gone on to buying a lb of SAF and filling an old 4 oz yeast jar, which I keep in the fridge. The rest of the bag is vacuum sealed and stored in the fridge. I've kept yeast over a year (don't use it much) and it has been fine.


Rockyrd's picture

I always keep my dry yeast in the freezer like most of you said. A snap top jar or canning jar works fine and has lasted 2 years or more like others have said. Just don't leave it out on the counter. Take out what you need and replace in the freezer.

 Also I keep fresh yeast frozen when I can get a pound block of it but I never put it in foil. I have not had good results with that. Its a bit time consuming but if you cut a 1 lb block of it into four sticks, like butter, then each into 8 pieces like a 1 T. size pat of butter you can wrap them individually in plastic wrap. I keep them in zipper bag and throw it in the freezer. A 1 T. piece is equal to a package or 2 1/4 teaspoon of dry yeast. I have had very good results with this method.  

mrosen814's picture

I store my instant yeast in the fridge, in an air-tight container,  with no problems at all :)

SusanWozniak's picture

Years ago, I bought a small stainless steel canister at a prices-off store, probably Marshall's.  It is not a gasket-type canister but one with tight fitting lid that slides into the base.  The yeast seems fine in the freezer.

harold5259's picture

I bought two one-pound packages of Fleischman's instant about a year and a half ago. I opened one, poured about 1/3 cup into a glass jar and put it in the fridge, and kept the rest of the opened one in a ziplock bag in the freezer. I fed the glass jar from the bag in the freezer until the first pound was gone, then opened the second. After about a year, I noticed that although my breads were rising, it seemed that they weren't rising as much as I though they should. So yesterday, I performed a couple of tests. I bought a strip of envelopes at the grocery and put a couple of teaspoons of the new stuff and some sugar in cup of warm water. I did the same with the old stuff. After ten minutes, the two measuring cups looked just about the same. However, next, I made two identical batches of French bread and put them in a divided container in the fridge to rise next to each other. The dough made with the new yeast is at least one and a half times the volume of the dough made with the old yeast. I don't know what's going on, but at $2.25 a pound, I tossed what I had left of the old yeast. One thing seems certain, though: yeast can be "active" but can be underperforming.

Here's another mystery: The Red Star/SAF website says that if you're storing dry yeast in the freezer, you should always bring it to room temp before using. Yet, the blurb for SAF in the King Arthur catalog says you can use it directly from the freezer.

harold5259's picture

Here's another tidbit to add to the confusion: Fleischmann's website says that freezing instant dry yeast is "not recommended." (Pretty wishy-washy advice. Seems like it should either be frozen, or not, or freezing has no effect.) Is it possible that the product inside these different brand-labeled packages is that different that SAF should be frozen and Fleischmann's not? And that Red Star should be thawed before using and SAF not?

mimifix's picture


Possible reason for the website recommendation: too many variables once a consumer freezes their product and then uses it at a (much?) later date.

But you're assuming that companies post scientific data for their products. Unfortunately, this doesn't always happen. Marketing, public relations, and sales folks are in control of the websites. It's been my experience that web info for these companies can be based more on PR or an employee's personal opinion than on scientific data.

I've worked for several companies and at times have disagreed with their "official" recommendations. While working for one corporation I learned that the marketing department employees each changed their titles to Food Scientist. They went to conferences and trade shows, doling out their misinformation.


Janknitz's picture

Companies don't want you to freeze instant and active dry yeast because it will last longer and result in fewer sales???

southern grits girl's picture
southern grits girl

Must be so, I have frozen my yeast for years and never had a problem. 

nhtom's picture

I've frozen both Fleischmann's and Red Star for extended periods - months - with NO problem.


Go for it!

southern grits girl's picture
southern grits girl

You can purchase two 1 lb bags of yeast at Sam's Club in the States. It is very cheap. If you don't have a membership, find a friend who does and let them get it for you. Also flour is very cheap.

joem6112's picture

DITTOs to all you freezer storage replies

lynnebiz's picture

They also have it at Costco's, and for those in the Northeast, B.J.'s Wholesale Club. I've always kept mine (SAS, now Fleischman's) frozen (not in the fridge at all), use it directly fr the freezer & never had a problem w/it. I mix it right in w/the flour, & mine has lasted two to three years.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was actually just one manufacturer, & they sell it under different labels. I wish I knew someone in the business to ask.

BTW - this thread is like my yeast - it doesn't die (lol - like that one?) The OP started it in 2007. My yeast has lasted that long, though...