Fresh yeast doesn’t last long. If you don’t use them daily, most of every pack you buy will go to waste. What if you could freeze fresh yeast?
If you’re a home baker who prefers fresh yeast (or baker’s yeast) to the dry variety, you know how to do it.
You buy a packet of yeast, bake some cookies or bread, and put the rest in the fridge. If you’re lucky, you’ll use another small piece in another baking project within a few days. Then the rest stays in the fridge, turning brown and spoiling within a week or so.
Incredibly wasteful, isn’t it?
So I decided to test frozen leftover fresh yeast. That way, when it works, I no longer have to string together a bunch of yeast-based recipes to use the whole block or throw away the leftovers. And both you and I know that these “leftovers” usually make up more than half of the package.
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Can you freeze fresh yeast?
Before I pulled the trigger, I did some research.
I’ve found that there are about as many people who say freezing fresh yeast is fine as people who say it’s either impossible or that the results aren’t consistent. That didn’t help much.
So I decided to put this to the test . If I’m not getting consistent results, i.e. the baked goods aren’t always rising the way they’re supposed to, there’s no point in freezing the mushroom.
Basically, I want to make sure that when I’m gathering the ingredients, the whole thing doesn’t fail because the yeast isn’t doing its part.
I have described the test I run in the Fresh Frozen Yeast Experiment section at the end of the article. Read on for more details and some pictures of what I baked.
Long story short, I have confirmed that freezing fresh yeast works very well and is a good option if you want to store it long term.
Read Also: Can you freeze oranges?
How to freeze fresh yeast
The whole process is super easy and only takes a few minutes.
Before you begin, think about how you plan to use the yeast once it’s thawed so you know how big your servings should be.
If you’re only using fresh yeast in a single recipe, it’s easy. But when you have a lot to choose from, it gets complicated. You can decide in advance exactly what you want to use these portions for. Or, do like I do and use evenly sized pieces large enough for most of my baked goods.
Once you know your portions, you’re good to go. Here’s what you should do:
- Unwrap the block and cut into pieces.
- Wrap each piece in aluminum foil or cling film. Make sure they are wrapped tightly so the yeast doesn’t dry out. If you didn’t use the same parts by weight as I did, label each one so you know which is which when it’s time to thaw.
- Place all wrapped slices in a freezer bag or airtight container. If using a bag, squeeze out the air before sealing the bag.
- Freeze. Place the bag or container in the freezer.
That’s it. You can leave it there for at least a month (I’m still testing how long). See my experiment at the end of the article for more details.
How to thaw fresh yeast
To get consistent results, always thaw fresh yeast the same way. I’ve had success using the following method:
- Thaw the portion in the fridge for about 12 hours. This is enough time to fully thaw the segment. If your blocks are much larger than mine (which weigh about 20 grams each) you may need more time. If they are smaller, they will thaw faster. I usually put the package in the fridge the night before I need it.
- (optional) Warm the piece at room temperature for 30 minutes. To bring the yeast to room temperature, you can give it an extra half hour before using it. It’s okay to skip this step if you need to start working on your baking project right away.
- Use. Now the yeast is ready to use in whatever recipe you need it for.
If you forgot to defrost the piece yesterday and need it now, you can try crumbled it onto a plate and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Many people advocate this method, but I haven’t tested it yet. Do it at your own risk.
Using frozen and thawed fresh yeast
If this is your first time using baker’s yeast after freezing and thawing, you may be afraid it won’t work out. That all the ingredients you have prepared will be wasted and the whole endeavor will turn into a disaster. I understand that.
Luckily, there is a way to test the effectiveness of yeast without going all-in. It’s called proofing, and I’ve written about it extensively in the article on yeast shelf life and storage . All you need is some warm water or milk, sugar, yeast and 10 minutes to see if the yeast is still active.
If you are unsure whether the thawed yeast is still effective, prove it. That way, you’ll know for sure if your yeast will do its job as a leavening agent. Or to put it another way, your freshly mixed dough assumes:
Experiment with frozen fresh yeast
Here is a detailed log of what I did as part of the Freezer Yeast experiment.
May 16, 2020
That was the day I froze the fresh yeast and started the experiment. Many of the photos in the article are from that day. You can see the way I froze the blocks in the video attached to this article.
May 20, 2020 (4 days after freezing)
Today I tried using frozen and thawed yeast for the first time. I did it just four days after freezing the blocks to test if the process works as soon as possible.
Yesterday I put a block in the fridge so it was ready for another batch of buns (or hamburger buns, some of which I freeze ) in the morning.
The thawed yeast worked perfectly. See for yourself:
This time I opted for four larger buns instead of six smaller ones like you could see in the pictures earlier. Here you are:
May 24, 2020 (8 days after freezing)
Today I used another cube of frozen yeast and baked another 4 hamburger buns. I even included an article on freezing hamburger buns since my wife and I only need two at a time.
In the evening I put the cube back in the fridge, in the morning I started working on the buns. And again the yeast worked perfectly. This is what the rising of the dough looked like:
So far everything is working as expected, see you in another update.
June 13, 2020 (about 1 month after the first freeze)
Today I used another cube of frozen yeast and baked five slightly larger hamburger buns. The whole process was exactly the same as last time, except I added a small amount of fresh yeast I had in the fridge to compensate for the extra flour. Once again everything worked as expected.
My plan is to use another frozen segment in about two months after the first freeze. That means around July 16th. Check back for updates if you’re interested.