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Understand Brewers Yeast (also known as Beer or Ale Yeast) How to Use It.

Updated: Jul 11

Brewer's Yeast,  How to Use It in bread making
Brewer's Yeast, How to Use It in bread making

In this article, I will explain the differences between fresh and dry, their use, advice for freezing and storing, and a practical Table of leavening times to help with baking.

But what is it?

It's undoubtedly a most important leavening agent. It is obtained through the fermentation of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, microscopic fungi of the Saccharomycete family. Brewers yeast is reserved as a place of honour for preparing numerous foods on our daily tables, from bread to pizza to desserts.

But why is it called Brewers, Beer or Ale yeast?

The answer is simple: this yeast is obtained from a residual part of beer fermentation, but it can also be obtained from the peels of some fruits.

Regardless of its form, this yeast is an essential ingredient in the food industry and home kitchens. Although they share the same purpose, fresh and dried yeast diverge in the manufacturing and production processes with a different twist.

It is not always indifferent to choose one or the other; it is essential to know in which forms brewers yeast can be found on the market:

Fresh brewers yeast

It is available in 25-gram blocks; this type of yeast is designed to be crumbled in water, allowing a dough of 500 grams of flour to rise to double its initial volume in just a few hours. To be consumed before the expiry date, low temperatures in the fridge are necessary for its conservation;

Dry brewers yeast

This can be considered a "sleeping" yeast. Awakened in warm water, dry brewer's yeast is mainly used to prepare savoury foods (such as bread and pizza) and is a worthy substitute for fresh brewer's yeast for creating some desserts. Present on supermarket shelves in jars and sachets, 7-gram dry brewer's yeast is the equivalent of a 25-gram block of fresh brewer's yeast and although in such a small format, it guarantees the leavening of 500 grams of flour;

Instant dry brewers yeast

designed to help those who cook speed up their preparations, this type of yeast owes its name to the instantaneousness with which this product guarantees the leavening of the dough where it is used. In this format, therefore, the yeast proves helpful for those who have little time available but still prefer working with dough;

Brewers yeast flakes

this is deactivated yeast. In fact, unlike the other types available, flaked brewer's yeast can be considered more of a condiment: by losing its leavening function due to the drying process to which it is subjected, this yeast presents itself, for example, as a worthy substitute of cheese within vegan and vegetarian cuisine as it is enriched with an intense flavour. Rich in vitamins and mineral salts, its use is recommended "raw" to keep all the properties of which it is composed intact;

in supplements

The different qualities that brewer's yeast possesses have pushed companies to create tablets, which can be purchased in herbalist's shops or pharmacies, are a natural source of energy and are used above all to reinvigorate the body during seasonal changes or for the well-being of both nails and hair.

But what are the differences, and what should you use in baking?

Fresh brewers yeast

It is most commonly used in industrial production to prepare leavened products, such as bread, pizzas, brioches, and large leavened products, such as Colomba and Panettone.

It comes in 25-gram blocks and can be used immediately. However, like all fresh things, it has an expiry date and is therefore unsuitable for amateur bakers like me.

It must be dissolved in water or milk at room temperature. The liquids must never be hot or cold, as the yeast undergoes a thermal shock.


NOTE: As with all leavened products, the less yeast is used, the longer and slower the leavening and maturation will be, the more digestible the leavened products will be after cooking.


Dry or dried brewers yeast

Dry or dried brewers yeast comes in granules and is sold in 7 or 8-gram sachets and cans. Check the package to see whether the dry yeast can be added directly to the dough or needs to be activated with water and sugar and left to rest for a few minutes before use.


NOTE: Compared to fresh brewers yeast, the proportion is 1 to 3. One gram of dry product corresponds to 3 grams of fresh one.


The leavening times must be adjusted with the quantity of yeast used.

For example, 3g in 500 grams of flour will last approximately 6-8 hours, depending on the type of dough and hydration and the external temperature.

How to preserve it fresh and dry and use and freeze it

Fresh brewers yeast can be stored in the refrigerator until it expires. After expiration, you can test whether the yeast is still active by kneading a poolish of yeast with water, flour, and a little yeast. If it increases in volume, it is still active and usable, and you can use the levitating obtained in the dough. If you don't feel like going beyond the deadline, freeze it before the expiry date.

Dry brewers yeast can be stored in the pantry or refrigerator sachet if it is close to expiring. Also, in this case, the yeast test can be done to verify that it is active beyond the expiry date.

How to Freeze it

You can easily freeze fresh yeast; remember to divide the pack into 5-gram pieces, wrap them in cling film, and freeze. For convenience, I usually place them in ice trays or a container with a lid.

It is not advisable to freeze dry yeast as it seems to lose strength.


NOTE: Once frozen, it can be stored for 5-6 months and used beyond the expiry date shown on the package because freezing preserves its properties.


How to Use it from Frozen

When using it, there is absolutely no need to defrost it: you take the quantity of yeast and dissolve it directly in the liquid (milk or water) at room temperature or just warm. Afterwards, you proceed immediately with the dough.


FAQ About

Does brewer yeast make you fat?

You can use yeast instead of cheese to flavour dishes. Yeast has a very low-calorie intake: only 56 calories per 100 grams. And above all, it's not true that yeast makes you fat.

What are the benefits of brewer yeast?

Can you use brewer yeast to make bread?

Can I make rustic white bread with brewer yeast?

YES, you can; however, the style of the bread is mostly given by the type of flour used, not too much yeast.

Is Brewers Yeast good for baking?


The table below shows the leavening times for 1 kilogram of 00 or 0 flour mixed with brewer's yeast.


At room temperature

From the fridge

22-25 g

2 (1,5-3) h

4 (2,5-5) h

18-20 g

4 (2,5-5) h

6 (4-8) h

14-16 g

6 (4-8) h

9 (6-12) h

10-12 g

8 (5-10) h

12 (10-15) h

6-8 g

10 (6-12) h

15 (12-18) h

1-4 g

12 (8-15) h

20 (18-24) h

NOTE: The times may increase for dry brewer's yeast. Read the instructions on the package, as many dry yeasts need to be activated before use.

Generally, 1 g of dry yeast = 3 g of fresh yeast, so pay attention to the proportion!


Below are some of my recipes you may wish to try:

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