The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Life Span of Yeast?

CountryBoy's picture

Life Span of Yeast?

I have a question as to the life span of yeast.  It arose as a result of reading the following recipe listed below.  And my question is that if waiting 24 hours is good for starter whether or not taste is improved by waiting longer than that ? I would think that the yeast would be on the down side by 24 hours; yes? The recipe is from

I am including the whole recipe so as to not quote out of context......

1 1/2 ounces compressed fresh yeast
1 quart warm water
2 tablespoons white sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
8 cups white rye flour
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 cups warm water


First, make the sourdough starter. Crumble the yeast into a large bowl. Whisk in 1 quart of warm water and 2 tablespoons of sugar until dissolved. The water should be just slightly warmer than body temperature. Gradually whisk in 4 cups of flour, continuing to mix until all lumps are gone. Cover with a dish towel, and let sit for 24 hours at room temperature.

After 24 hours, stir well, cover, and let stand another 24 hours. It will be a thin, light-colored sourdough which is then ready to use.

In a large bowl, stir together the rye flour, 4 cups of all-purpose flour, salt and sugar. Mix in the sourdough starter using a wooden spoon, then stir in 2 cups of warm water. I transfer the dough to a heavy duty stand mixer to mix the first couple of minutes, then it can't handle the heavy dough and I start using my hands by turning the dough out onto a floured surface. A clean countertop works best. Knead the dough, adding a few tablespoons of water at a time if it is too stiff. Fold the dough over, pull it apart, whatever you can do to get it kneaded up good. Total kneading time should be 15 to 20 minutes to get a smooth dough. Place the dough in a large bowl, cover, and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.

When the dough has risen, scrape it out of the bowl and back onto a floured surface. Knead for about 5 minutes. This is important to activate the gluten. Shape into 1 or 2 long loaves. Place on baking sheets, and let rise for about 1 hour, or until your finger leaves an impression when you poke the bread gently.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I think compressed yeast will survive in the above recipe conditions.  When you consider that only half of the compressed yeast is actually yeast, the amount is much smaller .  That looks like a 4 Kilo loaf!   Stirring and waiting 24 hours sounds familiar. I think it would work and that the yeast hasn't used up the food in 24 hours, or even 44.  After 48 hours, more food is introduced.  If you use your wild starter, it can only get better, but waiting time may vary.

Weather it is truly sourdough is questionable, two days of fermenting with compressed yeast does not a sour dough make.  Here is a yeast info page:

Mini Oven

CountryBoy's picture

Appreciate the guidance and the website.


chemonro's picture

I've been doing work for the Dole at the Quang Minh buddhist temple in Brimbank, in Melbourne, Australia. We're not allowed to cook meat of any kind, or use onions or garlic. Initially I wondered if you could come back and be re-incarnated as an onion, but it seems that they just don't like the smell.

 Recently we've been making breads and dough and some of these use yeast. Now.. Yeast is a kind of fungus, right? And they use mushrooms, and they certainly eat bread, so that's probably alright. But there's something very alive and almost animal like about a living yeast culture. And I was wondering if you could come back as a yeast organism? 

 And that got me to wondering - if you did come back as a yeast, how long would your reincarnation last? This was one of the few pages that I could find talking about the life span of yeast, so I thought I'd ask here.


Jeffrey's picture

If i was to be a yeast, i'd like to baked into delicious bread.  That sounds much better than rotting out in the compost pile.

Rosalie's picture

One of the things I like about making bread is that's it's alive!  We nurture it and encourage it and baby it and make it grow.

Then we put it in the oven and kill it.