Funky Fresh

You may have noticed that my recent bread recipes have called for fresh yeast, not the more commonly called for dry active yeast. Now, I’ve received quite the influx of emails inquiring about this switch, and before my inbox reaches critical mass, it seems like high time to address all of these inquiries!

Found in the refrigerated section of some standard grocery stores, it can be a hit-and-miss search trying to locate these little squares. They’re sold in both 0.6-ounce and 2-ounce cakes, but I’ve only been lucky enough to find the smaller sizes, and only some times, at some stores. However, if you see any sort of yeast on the shelves, you can probably request that the store you frequent stock fresh yeast for you, or at least put in a special order.

When I get my little cubes home, I tend to store them all together in a zip-top plastic baggie, since the foil wrappers are always applied so haphazardly that they tend to slide off the moment you pick one up. It also helps keep them in one place so that they’re easier to find- Such tiny packets are easy to lose in the chaos of my overstuffed fridge!

Otherwise, you can certainly find it for sale online, but in most cases, it will only be sold in bulk. Unless you plan on doing a heck of a lot of baking, I would recommend against buying such a large volume at a time, since fresh yeast is far more perishable that dried, and a little bit goes a long way. Fresh yeast should be stored in the refrigerator prior to use, but you can stock pile it in the freezer for up to 4 months as well.

In case all of that seems like too much of a hassle for you, you can always substitute one 1/4-ounce package of active dry yeast (not rapid rise) for one 0.6-ounce cube of fresh yeast. But before you give up on the notion, just check out what you’d be missing…

Both of these loaves were made from the same exact recipe, but the one on the left was made with fresh yeast, on the right, dried. As you can see, the left loaf rose higher and more evenly, with a finer crumb. What you can’t see is how much better it tasted- Bearing a more pronounced yeast flavor, it’s a much more complex and nuanced loaf. Both the texture and taste keep bringing me back to this leavener, and once you try it out for yourself, I promise it will become a staple ingredient in your home too.