According to HuffingtonPost, an increasing number of people are baking their own bread, especially as a result of the pandemic, and while some people are likely getting out of the habit as work and “normal” life resume, it’s certain that bread making is very popular in today’s world, and lots of people across the globe enjoy making their own bread.
If you make your own bread, you will be very aware of the most storage sensitive component: yeast. If your yeast gets too old, your bread simply won’t rise, and you can lose a lot of good loaves to this issue.
Yeast needs to be stored properly to maximize its shelf life and if you don’t store your yeast properly, you will very quickly find that you are replacing it instead. Make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions as well as using the information we’ll cover to store your yeast in the best possible way.
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How To Store Yeast Properly
Before your packet or jar of yeast is opened, you should store it in a cool, dry place. Make sure that a packet is not in danger of being squashed or ripped by the things you are storing around it, or your yeast won’t last very long. A cool cupboard is a good place to put it.
Yeast is sensitive to heat, so it doesn’t want to be kept anywhere warm, or you might seriously shorten its lifespan. It also responds to air and moisture, which is why only sealed containers can be kept in a cupboard. Once the yeast has been opened, it must be stored differently.
Open dry yeast should be kept in either the fridge or the freezer at all times, in an airtight container. If your yeast is in a packet, you can either transfer it to an airtight container, or fold the packet over until it is against the level of the yeast, and tape it shut. This will ensure there is no excess air in the packet.
It’s a good idea to write the date that you opened the yeast on the packet somewhere before you put it in the fridge or freezer. It needs to be room temperature for baking, however, so when you are thinking of making bread (or anything else), take it out of the fridge or freezer and let it sit on the counter for about an hour before using it.
How Long Can Yeast Be Stored?
As long as you minimize airflow and keep dry yeast in the refrigerator, it should last for about four months once it has been opened. If you keep it in the freezer, it can last up to six months, possibly slightly longer.
Don’t assume that unopened yeast is inert. It is a living organism, and even before you have opened the packet, it is changing over time. A packet that has been stored unopened for a long time will likely not last as well once it is opened, so it’s important to buy yeast when you need it, and use it up quickly.
How To Tell If Yeast Is No Longer Active
Old yeast shouldn’t hurt you, even if it has become inactive after several months of storage. Unless you can see visible mold on yeast or it smells off, it should be fine to consume. However, once it’s old, it won’t do its job and make the bread rise, which defeats the point of having yeast in the first place.
So, what you need to consider when you’re checking if your yeast is still okay is whether it will work to make the bread rise. Fortunately, there is a fairly simple test for this!
Firstly, pour out half a cupful of warm tap water, using a measuring jug like this Pyrex Glass Measuring Cup. If you have a thermometer, the water should be around 110° F, but if not, just aim for warm but not hot. Next, stir in a teaspoon of granulated sugar and mix until it has dissolved fully.
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Stir slightly more than two teaspoons of yeast into the water and sugar solution, and make sure that all the yeast has been sunk into the water; there shouldn’t be any floating on top. Leave the mixture for about ten minutes, and then check how it is doing.
By this point, you should have a good layer of foam, approximately the same depth as the water you put in originally (so if you have used a measuring jug, it should now be at the one cupful mark). This only needs to be approximate, but will help you determine whether the yeast is still active.
The top should also be slightly rounded, ideally, and you should see lots of bubbles in the foam.
If this doesn’t happen, the yeast is no longer any good and it should be thrown away. If it does happen, you can use the yeast mixture you’ve just made in your recipe, but remember to decrease the amount of liquid by half a cupful to account for what you are adding here.
This method should be enough to tell you if the yeast is good to use. However, if you know that your yeast has got wet or been left exposed to the air for too long, you may choose not to use it. Yeast can go moldy, and it’s better not to risk it.
Avoid These Mistakes When Storing Yeast
- Don’t leave your yeast at room temperature for a long time. If you get it out to warm before baking, remember to put it away as soon as you have finished, or only let the amount you need come to room temperature, and keep the rest tucked away.
- Don’t let your yeast get damp.
- Don’t open several packets of yeast at one time. Finish one packet and discard the wrapper before opening a new packet. This will reduce waste and stop you from getting confused about which is which.
Keep Your Yeast Fresh!
It’s important to store yeast well so that it can do its job and help the bread to rise. Yeast that has been improperly stored can result in a lot of waste, because the loaves will stay flat and have a very poor texture!