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Active Yeast vs. Compressed Yeast

Simply put, yeast is a very simple, single celled organism that bakers use to help make bread rise. In fact, as gross as it sounds, yeast is actually a fungus that converts the starches and sugars used in baking to carbon dioxide and bubbles, which helps to make bread rise as well as give that extra little punch to alcoholic beverages. Depending on the type of baking that you are doing, yeast can potentially be the single most important ingredient that you use. By forgetting to add yeast, or even by using the wrong kind of yeast, can make your bread or other baking endeavor turn out horribly wrong. In baking, there are typically two kinds of yeast that you can choose from, which are commonly known as active yeast and compressed yeast.. Here is a little bit of information that you can use to help you determine which of these two types of yeast you wish to use the next time that you start doing some home baking.

  • Active yeast. Also known by the name active dry yeast, active yeast is one of the most traditional forms of yeast that is used in home baking. This type of yeast has one of the longer shelf lives, and it takes a little bit of more preparation to actually activate it for use in baking. Among these great qualities is another that helps to make active yeast so attractive to home bakers, it is a very forgiving ingredient. This means that you don't have to be overly careful when handling and storing it. In fact, you can simply store active yeast at room temperature for up to four months once you have opened it, and before you need to discard it. This type of yeast usually comes in strips of three packages which each have 1/4 an ounce of yeast in them, or it can come in a jar which contains 4 ounces of the ingredient. Activating this type of yeast is fairly simple, since you first bring it to room temperature, and then sprinkle it over some water that has been heated to between 105 degrees and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have done that, you only have to wait about five minutes for it to be activated (you can tell that it has activated when the yeast begins to foam).
  • Compressed yeast. Compressed yeast is actually the single most traditional type of yeast that is available to the home baker. When compared to active dry yeast, compressed yeast (also known as active fresh yeast) works faster and longer. However, this form of yeast is also extremely perishable, and loses its potency after a few weeks of being packaged. If frozen, the compressed yeast can be stored for up to four months, though it will need a full day for defrosting before use. Compressed yeast comes in cakes that weigh about 2 ounces, and needs to be softened in water that is between 70 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

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