The Fresh Loaf

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Difference in different yeast brands

JustJoel's picture

Difference in different yeast brands

Ive been noticing lately that bread bloggers are adding their preferred brand of yeast to their recipes or formulas. Cookbook authors too. Some tout SAF Red, some prefer SAF gold. And while it’s the most widely available at supermarkets here in Vegas, no one seems particularly fond of Fleischmann’s (although it seems to have been working fine for me; both the active dry and bread machine yeasts).

Are there substantial differences between the brands? Taste, rise efficiency, shelf life? Or is it just a matter of personal preference (or availability)?

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Usually, the biggest difference between the SAF and Fleischmann's is the price. Here in the KC area, we can find the SAF instant yeast in any consumer size unit up to the one pound package in a Walmart of our choice. I have yet to see  Fleischmann's yeast in a similar one pound package in any box store or supermarket.

I bought the SAF instant yeast in the one pound package, emptied it into an airtight plastic storage container, started storing it in the freezer, and after a couple years or so, it still works fine. There's a good chance that you could have the same results.

AndyPanda's picture

I have used Fleischmann's and SAF and both last a long, long time in the freezer.  I prefer SAF but they're both good.  The difference between the two SAF yeasts is one is for sweet breads and the yeast supposedly handles the added sugars and spices better.

But someone here did a comparison:  

tgrayson's picture

I've never seen any professional express a preference for a particular brand. And I've only encountered one poster in many years who claimed to detect a flavor difference between brands...I suspect he couldn't do so while blindfolded.

DanAyo's picture
tgrayson's picture

My store brand yeast also freezes well. I suspect they all do.

Rube Goldberg's picture
Rube Goldberg

I just borrow my neighbors membership card approximately once a year and stock the freezer.

pmccool's picture

is available at my nearest Costco warehouse in two-pound packages.  I've used it for years with excellent results.  

I used to by Fleischmann's back when I had a Sam's Club membership with equally excellent results.

In my case, availability has been the primary driver for what I use. 


starvingviolist's picture

SAF Gold is made for use with enriched (sweetened) doughs. Doughs with added sugar do better with osmotolerant yeast, which is better adapted to the osmotic pressure exerted by sugar in the dough.

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Even after traveling 20 miles to the east of me all I could find is the baby food jar of Fleisch. A couple of weeks gone by and it's half used up. Thanks for the Amazon link. I paid almost as much for that baby jar as I will for the 1 lb. bag. But I got a cool baby jar...... : )

I saw two other brands on Amazon. Red star and Bioreal. Bioreal is not an option. Red star has one  ingredient missing that both Fleisch and SAF have. Vitamin  C. I've got a copy and been reading my way through "The Village Baker" by Joe Ortiz. He talks about it's importance and use in bread making. Now Red Star is quite a bit cheaper without the vidi. If one would really want to save a few bucks. Drop a vidi C tab in eight to 16 ounces of water. Keep that in a sealable container in the fridge. Bottle water with the lid would work just fine. Then remember to put a tablespoon of that water in your liquids for the dough mix. Just a thought. Ya, I'm not going to do it either. I'm lazy. : )

Rube Goldberg's picture
Rube Goldberg

Use it to store yeast that you are using in the fridge. The brown glass helps to keep the light from shortening the life of the yeast.

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

Thanks for the tip Rube! That expensive piece of glass will become a family heirloom someday. : )

BobBoule's picture

every brand of Yeast (across the US) that I could get my hands on, from the inexpensive bulk bags at the club warehouses to the cute baby jars to the single serve packets, both regular and rapid-rise and I have never found any difference between any of them. If I did not freeze the yeast then I did find that they all Peter out rapidly as they approach their expiration date so if its a year that I can't bake a lot then I buy a small packet each time I can sneak in a loaf. If its a good year for baking then I buy the bulk bags and keep it frozen at all times.

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

If ascorbic acid ( vitamin C ) is used to strengthen dough. And gold is formulated for doughs that could be called heavier. Then is it possible the only real difference between red and gold is gold has more vitamin C? They both have the same strain of yeast and both have ascorbic acid. That water bottle in the ice box might come in handy after all. 

mariana's picture

The differences between strains and brands become essential when you bake in controlled conditions, such as in bread machines. There, a different brand of yeast and a different strain of yeast will make a difference between success and failure. Mostly because yeasts release different amount of gas per minute, the dough rises slower or faster and accumulates acidity and flavor differently. 

Also, some strains have one gassing peak and others - two during the period of fermentation. This is essential for the bread machine. You don't want the yeast to go through decline in gas production just when the machine is in the proofing stage and the bread is supposed to rise before baking! 

This is how yeast with two gassing peaks in its gas production in time looks: there is a significant decline in gas production around 60 min fermentation mark. 

European yeast strains are adapted for sponge-dough methods (poolish-dough, etc), they produce gas like that in a preferment, and then in dough: 

And this is how SAF RED yeast produce gas in time, compared to traditional compressed yeast. Red line - SAF red yeast gassing power, it steadily increases until it reaches its maximum around 1.5-3 hrs mark (90-180 min of fermentation time) which is when most bakers need it most - for a good proof and an impressive oven spring. This graph is from SAF website:

Otherwise, one can pretty much adapt to the differences among them by watching dough, by sniffing it to determine its ripeness, etc. 

The only brand that I was unable to adapt to in any way or form is Red Star. It gave me very inconsistent outcomes even in the same recipe. I gave up after 10 test bakes. 

Fleischmann's Active Dry is my absolute favorite. It does give a slightly different flavor to breads because of the high proportion of dead yeast cells in it. Instant yeasts are cleaner or fresher smelling, they contain almost no dead yeast cells and they don't smell 'yeasty', 'beery'. 

I also like Fleishmann's Pizza Yeast, I use it in many European recipes which require European flours, moderately strong flours. Our Canadian flours and North American flours in general are way too strong for those recipes and Pizza Yeast relaxes strong dough making it similar in properties to the dough made from European flours.  

So, yeah, I like Fleishmann's ADY and Pizza Yeast for that particular property: they relax strong north American flours, give breads and buns better crumb and crust. Traditional ADY relaxes dough by having a high proportion of dead yeast cells (glutatione relaxes dough), and Pizza Yeast - by having a special component in it - dough relaxing amino acid L-cysteine. 

Osmotolerant SAF yeast, SAF Gold, is very good too. It mimics slow gassing European yeasts in lean dough and works very nicely in enriched doughs, as designed. Many lean recipes of European origin in the Modernist Bread encyclopedia have osmotolerant yeast in their formulas. 

European instant yeasts these days are only 90% yeast, the rest of the package content is yeast nutrient and essential dough conditioners, they are VERY nice, especially for those who bake in bread machines. For example, Hovis Bread Yeast (Great Britain): 

Dried Yeast (93%), Calcium Sulphate (yeast food),

Flour Treatment Agents: Ascorbic Acid, Alpha Amylase,

Emulsifier: Sorbitan Monostearate,

Salt, Wheat Starch

I don't focus on shelf life, since I keep all my yeasts deeply frozen, below -20C. I keep a small amount of Fleishmann's ADY in the fridge for daily use and use it within 4 months, after which the decline in gassing power becomes noticeable (greater than 10% decline compared to the freshly open package).  Such an expired yeast with lots of dead yeast cells is good to use in sourdough starters as "food for LAB". 

Bread rat.'s picture
Bread rat.

So i can get plaster of paris easily ( calcium Sulphate ). Alpha Amylase is also easy to come by. And the only problem with vitamin C is getting it weak enough to use. Not interested in an emulsifier. I'm not one of these loonies who think it's toxic. Just don't think it's necessary. But guess it would be better than adding soap to break the tension of water. I can live without my bread being Zestfully clean. : )

Who'd a thought. You could set up a science lab in your kitchen to make bread. 

mariana's picture

I usually don't bake with British yeast, unless it is strictly unavoidable, for British recipes in a British bread machine. There it does make a lot of difference. And our Canadian flour already has alpha-amylase and Vitamin C added to it. 

As emulsifier I usually add a drop of lecithin.  I have a blend of lecithin with oil at hand, I use it to grease baking pans to make them non-stick, so I just use 1/4 tsp of that blend to add to the bread dough. This does the trick. It is mostly important in rye breads though. It retards their staling, keeps their crumb delectably soft for a long time. 

Breads made from wheat flour don't keep in our kitchen, We eat them practically within minutes after baking : ) no need for anti-staling emulsifier- crumb softener. 

rarem's picture


Despite normally baking successfully, I failed when trying my first attempt from Modernist Bread.  I tried the Francese on Vol 4 P174.

Normally, I add my yeast directly in with the flour but this time I followed the MB instructions and dissolved it in a little cold-from-the-tap water first. The dough just didn't rise in the bulk ferment so I abandoned it. 

Marianna - I wondered whether I've used the wrong type of yeast in this instance. Do you know which brand MB uses as 'Instant Yeast'? I get incredibly confused between Instant and Dry Active. (I'm in the UK.)

rarem's picture

I’ve just checked the book - they recommend SAF instant red label or SAF gold for osmotolerant. 

Still not sure why I got no rise this rime. I’m going to order the SAF red label and try again. 

Pepe Pappardelle's picture
Pepe Pappardelle

I have come to prefer SAF, but recently bought another brand because yeast is scarce right now. I have come to avoid Fleischmann's, since more than once Fleischmann's yeast that I bought was a dud. The first time was in envelopes--I wondered if it had been held in a hot truck. The second time was in jars. Same thing. I am glad to hear it works well. 

jkandell's picture

I found this comment after searching, and I too am stunned after decades of baking to have a new jar of Fleischmann's instant yeast well-within its due date that is completely dud. I've bought Red Star and Fleischmann's jars of IDY and ADY for years and never had anything like this. I just proofed it after some suspicious loafs and after fifteen minutes it's just floating on the water with zero foam.I was expecting some decrease; but "dud" really captures it. Not sure it's the manufacturer's fault though, maybe the market left it in the hot Arizona summer heat. I had assumed dried yeasts were almost indestructible with modern production methods. I know it's not a news flash that a product has an occasional dud but it really messed with my mind the last few loaves!

tpassin's picture

Just speculating, but companies have been having trouble with their trucking, and maybe Fleischmann is had some of its yeast shipped by an unreliable trucking firm.  Not that helps any of us...