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After the demise of my sourdough starter, I've decided to switch to instant yeast, and am trying to decide which to buy. Specifically, I'm comparing Saf-Instant Red and Saf-Instant Gold. The former is officially recommended for dough with up to 12% sugar, while the latter is recommended for dough with between 10% and 30% sugar. However, I've read several anecdotal reports that Saf-Instant Gold is perfectly fine for plain, low-sugar bread.

I don't bake often enough to justify stocking two different yeasts, so is Saf-Instant Gold (or any similar osmotolerant yeast) suitable for regular bread, and do I need to adjust any recipes if I'm using it in place of Saf-Instant Red?

Ideally, I'd like an answer drawing from a statement from a yeast manufacturer, substantial personal experimentation, or a published study.

3 Answers 3

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It should be fine. There is no reason it won't grow at lower sugar content, though there is a possibility that it has slightly slower growth under lower sugar levels, due to optimization of the metabolism for the more bio-available sugars.

All the information that has been is saying is that if you have a relatively high sugar content in your bread, then use the "osmotolerant" variety, not that the variety won't grow under conditions outside of those specified.

I seriously doubt that recipe adjustment would be necessary. As I mentioned above, it may have slightly slower growth under low sugar conditions, but this is likely to be minimal and at worst require longer proofing/rising stages.

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  • That's the impression I'd gotten, but I was hoping for something more definitive to back it up (such as a statement from a yeast manufacturer, substantial personal experimentation, or a published study). There's also the question about whether recipes need to be adjusted. May 4, 2021 at 1:19
  • @AbeKarplus - see edit.
    – bob1
    May 4, 2021 at 1:45
  • Thanks. I'm going to leave this question open for a while, in the hopes that someone can come up with the more definitive information I'd asked about, but if not, I'll accept yours. May 4, 2021 at 1:50
  • @AbeKarplus - please do leave it open. I'm not a yeast expert by any means, though I do work in a microbiology department.
    – bob1
    May 4, 2021 at 3:19
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    I suspect that the concern is that if it doesn’t grow well under certain conditions, other microbes have a chance to establish themselves instead of the yeast and out compete it, which could lead to failed bread and/or food poisoning.
    – Joe
    Sep 13, 2022 at 12:31
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I found this site from the UK with many reviews of SAF gold (osmotolernat) yeast, quite a few of which commented to the effect that use of the gold yeast worked well for normal or non-sweet breads and many that indicated they used the SAF gold yeast for all purposes. There was not a great amount of detail as to how results may or may not vary from use of standard instant yeast, or analysis as to why osmotolerant yeast can function successfully without the presence of a larger amount of sugar, but these comments do appear to be from experience and trial, for what that's worth.

https://www.bakerybits.co.uk/saf-gold-instant-osmotolerant-yeast

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I found some more specific information here: https://bakerpedia.com/ingredients/osmotolerant-yeast/

Osmotolerant yeast can perform well at:

  1. Sugar content above 5% and as high as 25%.
  2. Salt content between 2 – 2.5%.
  3. Low water activity systems.

The web site cited this work as their source:

Reed, G . Yeast technology. 2nd edition. Springer Science & Business Media, 1991.

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  • This is interesting, but we actually have the opposite question here. Can you write up how it performs at sugar contents below 5%?
    – rumtscho
    Sep 12, 2022 at 18:22
  • @rumtscho, my assumption was that the book's conclusion was that it did not perform well below 5%, but maybe I read too much into that. Anecdotal evidence is contradictory, with some people saying it works well, and others not. Confounding that is the fact that osmotolerant yeast seems to do well in sour doughs in addition to sweet, so there are multiple factors to consider. If I come across more info, I'll post it! Sep 14, 2022 at 13:22

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