Bread 101: yeast


I’m teaching my good friend, Shanelle, about bread making, and if you’re interested in learning, maybe you’ll be able to pick something up, as well. There will probably be a bunch of posts in the next little bit with more details about yeast breads. Really, if there is one thing I could teach everyone, it would be NOT to be scared of yeast breads! They’re fun to make, and when you do it at home, you can make them yummier, healthier, and for way less money than you can buy at the store.

To make yeast bread you need yeast. When Shanelle was here I showed her my big thing of yeast and she said “you don’t buy the little packets?” NO. WAY. And here is why:



yeastSee the little packets?  $3.05 per ounce. Those are for people who might be trying out yeast bread baking, or only making one recipe in a blue moon.  If you bake more than several times a year, steer clear of the little packets.

The small jars are your next option.  A much better price at $1.85 per ounce.  But that small jar wouldn’t last me very long at all.  Check out the brick of yeast: 23 cents per ounce.  A HUGE difference from the packets – $2.82 cheaper per OUNCE.

The great thing about yeast is that if you put it in a cool dry place, it will keep for a very long time – I’ve read that it will keep for more than 5 years, but I’ve never had it around that long to test.  When I buy a large brick of yeast, I’ll put about 1/3 of it in a zip loc in my fridge, and keep the rest in a zip loc in the freezer.  When my fridge zip loc runs out, I’ll just pour more in.  Main point here: don’t think that by buying the brick of yeast you’ll end up losing money by throwing it away one day because it’s old.  Keep it in the fridge or freezer, and make bread even just once in awhile, and you’ll be good to go.

Here’s a big thing about bread machines and yeast (I usually make our sandwich bread in a bread machine, but bake it in the oven): you do NOT need to buy bread machine yeast.  But you DO need to use the yeast at room temperature for it to work properly, if you buy the rapid rise yeast.  In fact, when you’re using a bread machine, all your ingredients should be at least at room temp to work well.


Here’s the thing I just barely learned about yeasts.  I have been using rapid rise forever.  Many recipes tell you to proof the yeast as the first step in your recipe. Proofing yeast means adding it to warm water, often with a bit of sugar or salt.  When I use rapid rise, this is unnecessary.  A couple weeks ago I was running low on yeast and bought new…I wasn’t paying attention to the bag and came home with active dry yeast.  I could tell as soon as I opened the package that it looked different – see the small balls as opposed to the rapid rise that looks like tiny seeds or grains of sand?  Well I used the ADY (active dry yeast) the same was as I had been using rapid rise and it didn’t work AT ALL!  Lesson learned.  Active Dry Yeast MUST be proofed – added to a small bit of warm water (no sugar or salt necessary) to kind of melt before it is added to a recipe.

That’s about all I can think of for a starter guide to yeasts.  If you’ve got any questions, let me know in the comments!


5 thoughts on “Bread 101: yeast

  1. Pingback: kb*mo

  2. Hillary

    keep it coming! i, too, am a little scared of yeast bread. i’ve found a recipe that i can make 4 loaves in 2 hours but it lackssomething. although it is really good! i can’t wait to learn more and make you proud :)

  3. feathersky

    I get 2 pounds of yeast for $4.50 at sam’s club!

    I’ve always used the rapid yeast and I wondered why everything says to proof the yeast–why bother with an extra step??? Now I know! I’ve never even seen the active dry kind before.

    I go through a pound of yeast about every 2, maybe 3 months. I refrigerate the 1 lb package after I open it, but have never frozen it or done anything special–Just sealed it back up and put it in the fridge. I’ve never had it lose it’s spunk (or whatever yeast loses when it loses something :P ). I’m pretty sure I’ve had a bag of yeast in the fridge for at least 5 months and even that didn’t lose it’s spunk.

    Can’t wait to see some recipes to try!!! :D

  4. Pingback: Bread 101: the tools | Julie Cooks

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