Fresh yeast doesn’t keep very long. If you don’t use it daily, most of every pack you buy goes 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 it is.
You buy a packet of yeast, bake some cookies or bread, and store the rest in the fridge. If you’re lucky, you use another small piece in another baking project in a couple of days. Then the rest sits in the fridge, turns brown and goes bad in a week or so.
It’s an incredible waste, right?
So I decided to try freezing the leftover fresh yeast. That way, if it turns out right, I no longer have to line up a bunch of yeast-based recipes to use up the whole block or throw away the leftovers. And both you and I know that those “leftovers” are usually more than half the package.
Can fresh yeast be frozen?
Before I pulled the trigger, I did a little research.
I have found that there are about as many people who say that freezing fresh yeast is fine as people who say it is impossible or that the results are not consistent. That didn’t help much.
That’s why I decided to put it to the test. If I can’t get consistent results, meaning baked goods don’t always rise as they should, freezing the mushroom is pointless.
Basically, I want to make sure that when I put the ingredients together, the whole thing doesn’t fall apart because the yeast doesn’t do its part.
I have described the test I perform in the Fresh Yeast Freezing Experiment section at the end of the article. Read on for more details and some photos of what I baked.
Long story short, I confirmed that freezing fresh yeast works well, and is a good option if you want to store it long term.
How to freeze fresh yeast
This entire procedure is super simple and only takes a couple of minutes.
Before you start, think about how you will use the yeast after thawing it, so you know what size your servings should be.
If you use fresh yeast in a single recipe, it’s easy. But if you have a lot to choose from, things get complicated. You can decide in advance what exactly you are going to use those portions for. Or do like I do, and go for equal-sized pieces that are big enough for most of the baked goods I make.
Once you know your portions, you’re good to go. This is what you should do
- Unwrap the block and cut it into portions.
- Wrap each serving in aluminum foil or transparent paper. Make sure they are well wrapped, so the yeast doesn’t dry out. If you haven’t chosen pieces of the same weight as I have, label each one, so you know which one is when it comes time to defrost.
- Place all the wrapped slices in a freezer bag or an airtight container.. If you use a bag, squeeze out the air before sealing it.
- Freeze. Put the bag or container in the freezer.
That’s all. You can leave it there for at least 5 months. See my experiment at the end of the article for more details.
How to thaw fresh yeast
For consistent results, you should thaw fresh yeast the same way every time. I have had success with the following method:
- Thaw the portion in the fridge for about 12 hours. This is enough time for the segment to thaw completely. If your blocks are much larger than mine (which are about 20 grams each), you may need more time. If they are smaller, they will thaw faster. I usually put the packet in the fridge the night before I need it.
- (optional) Heat the piece at room temperature for 30 minutes.s. To help the yeast come to room temperature, you can leave 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 immediately.
- Utilization. Now the yeast is ready to use in whatever recipe you need it for.
If you forgot to start thawing the chunk yesterday and need it right now, you can try crumbling it onto a plate and leaving it at room temperature for 30 minutes. Many people advocate this method, but I haven’t tried it yet. Do it at your own risk.
Using fresh frozen and thawed yeast
If this is your first time using baker’s yeast after freezing and thawing it, you may be concerned that things won’t turn out well. May all the ingredients you have prepared go to waste and may the whole effort turn into a disaster. I understand.
Fortunately, there is a process for testing the effectiveness of yeast without going all out. It’s called proofing, and I wrote about it in detail in the article on the shelf life and storage of yeast. All you need is hot water or milk, sugar, yeast, and 10 minutes to see if the yeast is still active.
If you’re not sure thawed yeast is still effective, give it a try. This way, you’ll know for sure if yours will do its job as a leavening agent. Or, put another way, that your freshly mixed dough will go from this:
Fresh yeast freezing experiment
Here is a detailed record of what I did as part of the yeast freezing experiment.
May 16, 2020
That is 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 how I froze the blocks in the video attached to this article.
May 20, 2020 (4 days after freezing)
Today was the first time I tried using frozen thawed yeast. I have done it only four days after freezing the blocks to test as quickly as possible if the process works.
I transferred a block to the fridge yesterday, so it would be ready in the morning for another batch of buns (or hamburger buns, some of which I freeze).
Thawed yeast worked perfectly. Try it for yourself:
This time I opted to make four larger buns instead of the six smaller ones you can see in the previous photos. Are here:
May 24, 2020 (8 days after freezing)
Today I used another cube of frozen yeast and baked another 4 hamburger buns. Even an article answering the question “Can hamburger buns be frozen?”, since my wife and I only need two at a time.
Once again, I put the cube in the fridge overnight, and started working on the muffins in the morning. And again, the yeast worked perfectly. This is what the rising mass looks like:
And here are the burgers we made
So far everything works as expected, see you in another update.
June 13, 2020 (approximately 1 month after the initial freeze)
Today I used another cube of frozen yeast, and I baked five slightly larger hamburger buns. The whole procedure was exactly the same as last time, except that I added a small amount of fresh yeast from the fridge to make up for the extra flour. Once again, things worked as expected.
And here are the buns
July 18, 2020 (about two months after the initial freeze)
Another batch and another success. Everything done exactly the same as before, so I won’t bore you with the details. Here is the photo of the lot:
Fresh yeast frozen for two months still works fine.
August 23, 2020 (frozen yeast for 3 months)
The fresh yeast that I froze three months ago is still working perfectly. I did everything the same as before, and the results were similar.
You can see the dough didn’t rise as much as last time, but I put it down to the temperature. It was a bit colder in the room than usual, hence growth was somewhat limited.
After forming the buns, I left them near the stove for half an hour to rise and they came out perfect.
October 12, 2020 (frozen yeast for almost five months)
This is my last batch, and it has turned out well.
At first the dough was not expanding as much as I would like. But it turned out that I needed a little more time, since the temperature in my apartment was not as high as other lots.
After 20 more minutes of rest in a warm place, everything returned to normal.
This is the result: