Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Instant vs. Dry Active Yeast

When I started making bread for our family on a regular basis, I came across bread recipes that called for "instant yeast".  I had only used active dry yeast -- of which Red Star and Fleischmann's are the most common brands.  Was it the same thing I wondered?  I made a return trip to our grocery store and couldn't find "instant yeast" anywhere.

Some time went by and I saw it again.  This time I did some research and discovered that instant yeast is available at King Arthur Flour, health stores and some grocery stores and is generally sold under the SAF brand name -- an affiliate of Red Star brand.

So what's the difference?  It's in the processing.

Active dry yeast is less active from the start, though it doesn't require proofing as it did in the past.  Instant yeast is, well, instant.  And it can be used straight from the freezer where it should be stored once opened.

The difference between the two is most noticed in the opening rise time where one can visibly see the instant yeast performing quicker from the start with a rapid dough rise.  However, the active dry yeast eventually catches up over an extended period of rise time.

Yeast makes some nervous.  It shouldn't.  A tremendous resource to learn more about everything yeast (and the instant vs. active dried) can be found at King Arthur's web site.

We personally prefer (as do most professional chefs and King Arthur bakers) the SAF instant yeast and have always achieved good results with it.

What do you use and why?  What is your yeast experience in bread baking?

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