Yeast is a strange substance. We all know (sort of) what it does in bread and other bakes. But how many of us know exactly what it is? How are you supposed to store it and are there different kinds of yeast?
For most people, they will buy a pack of yeast because they have decided to bake a single loaf of bread. Then, when the fun of baking has worn off, they’re left with a load of unused yeast.
Dried yeast is very different from fresh yeast, so make sure you don’t get the two confused. Dried yeast can keep for much longer than fresh yeast.
Dried yeast and fresh yeast have very different consistencies, so can’t be stored in the same way or for the same amount of time. Unopened dried yeast can be stored in a cupboard for up to 2 years. Fresh yeast, however, has a lot of moisture and won’t remain usable for as long.
In the refrigerator, fresh yeast can keep for about 2 to 3 weeks. This is a fairly long time so you should be okay for a while. But, if you have just opened up your refrigerator and discovered some fresh yeast that should have been used a long time ago, you’re probably wondering what you can do with it.
It would be wasteful to throw it in the garbage. So, can you freeze fresh yeast? The answer, helpfully, is yes. But, as with any food, there is a specific process to follow before putting the yeast straight in the freezer.
How to Freeze Fresh Yeast
As with pretty much any food, freezing fresh yeast isn’t as easy as just placing the container in the freezer drawer and letting it do its thing. So, to make sure you don’t accidentally spoil it, here’s our guide to freezing fresh yeast.
If you have already been keeping the fresh yeast in the refrigerator, then you can skip this and move on to the prepping. If you have only just bought the yeast, then place it in the refrigerator and leave it for 12 hours.
If the yeast is unopened, you can place it directly in the freezer. Make sure to write the date on the packaging so you don’t forget how long it’s been in there. Fresh yeast can keep in the freezer for around 3 months.
If the fresh yeast has already been opened, you can still freeze it but need to cover it first. Take the yeast out of the original packaging and then wrap it in cellophane and then aluminum foil.
This will help the yeast to retain its moisture. If the yeast dries out it will no longer work
How to Defrost Fresh Yeast
Now that your fresh yeast has been sat safely preserved in ice, here’s what to do when you decide to use it.
Defrosting fresh yeast is very easy and similar to most other food products. The best way is to leave it wrapped up or in its packaging and place it in the refrigerator.
This will allow the yeast to gradually thaw out. This may take a while so it’s best to leave the yeast overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Don’t be tempted to leave the yeast at room temperature or to attempt to defrost it in the microwave. Any sudden change in temperature can potentially spoil the yeast or stop it from working.
Any warmth may also cause it to dry out. As a general rule, if food should be kept in the refrigerator normally, then it’s best to defrost it in the refrigerator.
Once you are sure that it is fully defrosted, make sure to double-check that the yeast is still active. It should feel moist and firm so gently press or squeeze it.
If the yeast crumbles or if it feels dry to the touch, then you should discard it. This will be disappointing but the yeast will just not work. If you try to use dried out fresh yeast, you will simply be wasting the other ingredients as well.
Factors to consider before freezing Fresh yeast
One important thing to consider before freezing yeast is when and how often you will be likely to need it again. If you freeze the block whole, then you will have to defrost it whole.
It’s a good idea to cut up the yeast into portion sizes and wrap them individually. This means that, when you’re baking, you can just take one portion out and use that.
This stops you from defrosting more than you need and potentially wasting yeast. You shouldn’t refreeze any kind of food, so any yeast that you don’t use will have to be kept in the refrigerator.
If using all that cellophane and aluminum foil seems wasteful, you can go waste-free by dividing the yeast up and placing it in an ice cube tray.
Then, when you want to use it, simply pop out a cube as you would with ice and allow it to defrost as usual.
Another important factor to consider is how well fresh yeast will keep in the freezer. It’s important to remember that fresh yeast is an active organism.
Freezing won’t damage the yeast but keeping it frozen for longer than 3 months may deactivate it. If your freezer is at 0°F or lower, then it may keep for longer but it is a risk.
Overall, the answer is yes, you can freeze fresh yeast. It will make it keep for longer, but you shouldn’t leave it in there for longer than 3 months.
It’s best to freeze it in the original packet, but if it has already been opened, make sure to wrap it up in layers to retain moisture.
If the yeast dries out at all, then it will no longer work. Dried yeast that comes in sachets is not just dried out fresh yeast, so it won’t just be like using normal dried yeast.