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I make bread and pizza bases using "fast action" dried yeast (like this: http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/groceries/index.jsp?bmUID=1287396076254 ).

My bread recipe calls for one sachet, my pizza dough recipe for two sachets. I notice that when I have just purchased a packet that still has a few months to go on its "best before" date, I get really lovely fluffy bread and pizza. As the yeast approaches its "best before" date, it gets less and less effective, but simply adding more of it doesn't give the same results - should I change the recipe in some other way? For example, add more sugar, or less salt?

I saw this similar question: http://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/2532/does-active-dry-yeast-really-expire but it doesn't quite answer my query.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

First off, how do you store your yeast? Storing yeast in the fridge helps it to last longer; I've had some yeast in my fridge for a year that is still going strong.

As your yeast begins to become ineffective, I would personally get new yeast. Once yeast looses its power, you're simply not going to get the same effect out of it.

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Interesting - I just keep it in the cupboard, it doesn't suggest on the packet to keep it fridged. It's sealed in foil sachets in the box. –  Vicky Oct 18 '10 at 13:47
    
@Vicky - the package has no vested interest in helping you keep the yeast longer, and it certainly isn't going to hurt you if you keep in at room temp, but yeast does last longer in the fridge (whatscookingamerica.net/Bread/yeastbreadtip.htm, foodsubs.com/LeavenYeast.html). You can also freeze it (ochef.com/280.htm). You could also consider buying less at a time if you consistently don't use enough to make the big box worth it before the yeast starts to go. –  justkt Oct 18 '10 at 18:16
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Freezing it is the way to go over the fridge. Less moisture and the yeast will positively stay inert in a below freezing enviroment, plus if you are going to have to proof it anyway, no added time to use. –  sarge_smith Oct 19 '10 at 1:35
    
it's already in single use sealed foil sachets; from the first link you gave, keeping it in the freezer would only help if it was opened. @sarge_smith: it's "fast action" aka instant, no need to proof it anyway. –  Vicky Oct 19 '10 at 11:26
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@vicky the difference between instant and active dry is merely the concentration of live yeast in the mix. You don't have to proof with instant but if you are storing for a long period and are noticing less leavening action, you can proof to "wake up" the instant the same way you do with the active dry. Additionally, temp can kill the yeast even while it is stuck in the package. The reason you keep yeast in the freezer is it forces the yeast to enter a dormant state. Which means that there isn't any chance of it wasting some of that precious CO2 while still in the package. –  sarge_smith Oct 19 '10 at 18:02
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A general advice to get the best flavor from your doughs I've consistently found is to add as little yeast as possible. It will take longer, but it will happen and it will be worth it.

I would try to give it more time to raise and see if it works. If time doesn't help, I don't think anything will do it.

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