How to pick the right yeast?

Over 1500 different yeast varieties have been identified so far. Photo: Shutterstock/New Africa/Shutterstock

The season of baking is almost upon us with many already taking part in 'cake mixing' and planning activities for Christmas. Yeast is an ingredient that can't be done without in this period, be it breads, cakes, cookies, biscuits, or not. A culinary expert would always know the right yeast to pick for their kitchen adventure, but what if you are taking baby steps in cooking?

Understanding the difference between different kinds of yeasts can go a long way in making your dish a hit and deriving the maximum flavour from it. Let's see what you need to know about the popular ingredient:

What is yeast?
Yeast are micro-living organisms that have made their way onto the earth much before humans. Over 1500 different yeast varieties have been identified so far. The yeast that is generally used for baking bread and other bakery items is known as baker's yeast. The one used to brew liquor is called brewer’s yeast.

Different types of baker’s yeast
Baker’s yeast, which is produced on a commercial scale, is primarily of three different types- Active dry yeast, Instant dry yeast, and Fresh yeast.

Active dry yeast
A yeast found common in supermarkets and shops for sale. It is in the form of fine granules. As the name suggests, the dryness needs to be activated by dissolving it in warm water before mixing in the dough to give it a lift. As it quickly becomes active with heat, care should be taken to preserve the material in a refrigerator. If you are using dry yeast for baking, keep the dough for fermentation for a whole night. We can also use it while preparing the batter for dosas and appams as well.

Instant yeast
The granules of instant yeast are even finer than that of active dry yeast and so it comes alive even quickly. It does not need to be dissolved in warm water for proofing and can be added in with the dry ingredients. It can be used while making snacks or baking things in a hurry.

Fresh yeast
The fresh yeast comes in solid square blocks and is proofed in warm water by crumbling into small pieces. The variety is also known as cake yeast or compressed yeast. The product is more perishable than its cousins in granule form and can be kept at normal temperature for a maximum of two weeks. Hence, it should always be stored in a refrigerator.

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