Friday, December 01, 2006

yeast storage...

Some folk might not be familiar with instant yeast. In short, it's a yeast that is usually mixed with the dry ingredients, doesn't need proofing and can be stored in the freezer for at least a year after opening (mine was still good when I ran out after 18 months). Instant yeast usually comes in vacuum packed packages in 1 pound increments. I get mine from Sam's Club, but you can order it from other places online. The advantage to instant yeast is that you don't have to proof the yeast, it blends well with the dry ingredients so it mixes in easily, and its long storage life. Most bread recipes only require 1 teaspoon of instant yeast for a loaf.

After opening the package of instant yeast (which is fine at room temp until opened), I pour the rest into a jar or two that I keep in the freezer. The yeast will go bad if left out, so I make a habit of only pulling out the yeast for when I am about to measure it out, and it never leaves my hand between the freezer and the mixing bowl so that I remember to put it back immediately. Sound paranoid or anal retentive? Maybe it is, but I've forgotten the jar on the counter before and found it the next day.

If you only bake once in a great while, then the little packets of active dry yeast may work better for you. I bake a half dozen loaves a month at least, so a pound of instant yeast doesn't last more than 8 months in my house at this point.

Putting the date that you opened the package on your bottle of yeast in the freezer is a good idea too, so if it suddenly isn't working, you can say "I bought this back during the Clinton administration, I wonder if that's why it won't work."

Be kind to your yeast, and your yeast will be kind to you.