Have you ever come across a recipe that tells you to use one packet of yeast? This can be one of those scratch-your-head moments when you ask yourself- just how much yeast is in a packet? It does not matter if you are a novice or skilled in baking bread; that is indeed quite a vague quantity when we are used to measuring yeast using teaspoons or grams.
However, whether you like it or not, you will always happen upon those recipes. So it's better to have a good understanding of how much is in a yeast packet, or you may find yourself eating a sad lump of flat, dense bread. Time to uncover the mystery surrounding this small envelope filled with fungi! Oh yes- you read that right! Yeasts are single-celled fungi that we use to make those yummy bread as well as wines and beers. You will also get a general idea of the different types of yeast used for baking and the best ways to proof and store it.
What is yeast?
Before we talk about the "how much," let's first discuss the "what it is." Yeasts are live microorganisms that are essential in making bread. They are leavening agents that make the dough rise as it bakes, making the bread soft and fluffy. A quick science talk- yeast feeds off sugar to produce carbon dioxide, creating air pockets within the dough, allowing it to expand and rise. They also contribute to gluten formation, which gives bread structure and a nice texture and flavor.
Different types of yeast for baking
If you really think about it, bread-making is very technical and scientific. You have to be precise with your measurements and timing. You also need to understand how certain ingredients react with each other to get that perfect loaf or roll. So, knowing which type of yeast to use and how to use it is imperative.
There are four common types of yeast used when baking. They all serve the same purpose. The difference is how they are manufactured and how to use them when baking.
- Active Dry Yeast (ADY). This is the most common yeast you can find in supermarkets. This type of yeast is made by dehydrating the granules, making them smaller in size. To wake the microorganisms up, ADY needs to be proofed first. Proofing is simply mixing the yeast with warm water and sugar and letting it sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Instant Yeast. It is a type of dry yeast but is milled into finer particles than ADY. This makes them easier to dissolve, so they act faster. When using this, you can skip the proofing method and add it straight to your dry ingredients.
- Rapid Dry Yeast. Also called fast-acting instant yeast. They work best on bread recipes that require only one quick rise, like delicious cinnamon rolls.
- Fresh Yeast. Also known as cake yeast, this type is not as common as the others. It is compressed and sold in blocks rather than in granule form. It has a very short storage life but is known for its robust flavor. Fresh yeast is mainly used in commercial baking.
How much yeast in a packet
Among the four types above, you will find ADY, instant yeast, and rapid-rise yeast sold in packets. Each packet contains the following measurements:
- 7 grams
- 2 ¼ Teaspoon
- ¼ or 0.25 ounce
- ¾ Tablespoon
Each envelope is sold in small doses for a reason. Since yeast reacts to moisture, it is always better just to open a packet when you need it. However, it does not mean that you cannot keep a jar or pack at home, especially when you are an avid baker! You just have to know how to store it properly.
How to store yeast properly
All types of dry yeast can be stored for long periods. If you are buying a single packet or a large pack of them, here are items that you need to remember to prolong your yeast's shelf life.
- Unopened – can last for up to 12 months or longer depending on the expiration date stated. This can be stored at room temperature, provided it is in a cool and dry area. If your kitchen is always humid and warm, it is best to keep your yeast in the fridge.
- Opened – can last for 3 to 4 months tightly sealed and refrigerated. You can extend this for another two months by freezing it. Make sure to not expose it to any type of moisture by using an airtight container.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, especially if you keep it in the fridge or freezer. Typically, you can still use it two to four months after the best by date. After that, it is always best to check if the yeast is still active by proofing it first.
Don't worry about this; the measurement is always constant no matter what brand you choose.
You can always proof the yeast first. Add one packet to ¼ cup of warm water and mix with one teaspoon of sugar. After at least 5 minutes, the mixture should bubble up and expel a yeasty smell. This means your yeast is ready for use.
When you see a recipe that says just "yeast," it most likely pertains to active dry yeast.
Next time you check on a recipe and see "use a packet of yeast," you know exactly how much you need to measure in volume or weight. So measure away and keep on making those yummy baked goods!