I have a type of yeast that I'm finding hard to identify by English standard.

These are picture of it:

Whole, uncut.

enter image description here

cut in half

enter image description here

In my country, Bulgaria, we call it "live" yeast, despite that both kinds of yeast sold here are actually live. The other kind sold here (called "dry" yeast) is sold in little packets of 7 or 10g and inside it looks like a lot of tiny cillindrical thingies with tiny holes in them. I always thought those are the yeast creatures, themselves, but it might be a way of packing them.

Anyway, since there isn't much information about such things on the Bulgarian internet I want to look things up on the English-speaking one but I don't know if the yeast in the pictures is what you'd call "instant" yeast, as it doesn't look anything like what I've seen on the 'net for it.

The reason I want to know what it would be called in English is that I want to know if there is any difference in the bread product depending on the type of yeast used. From all I've read, both in ENG and BUL 'nets, the only difference between the "live" and "dry" yeast ("instant" and whatever the other kind was called) was that you have to "activate" one kind and you can straight up use the other kind right off the bat.

Is that the only difference between the types of yeast? If I don't care about "activation", can I use either one to the same effect?

  • 1
    I always thought those are the yeast creatures, themselves, but it might be a way of packing them. - bakers yeast are a type of Saccharomyces cerevisiae, these guys are 5 to 10 microns in diameter, which is 0.005 to 0.01 of a millimetre. So single yeast are too small to see without a microscope. There are some images and more details here: microscopeclub.com/yeast-under-microscope
    – guest105
    Jun 15, 2021 at 14:30

5 Answers 5


In addition to the accepted answer:

This is called Fresh Yeast in English. There are two other types of yeast commonly available in the English speaking world, called instant (bread machine) yeast and active dry yeast. Both of these last two are more commonly used as they keep very well for extended periods of time.

Fresh yeast is basically a cake of yeast that has been filtered and pressed to remove most of the growth medium. It should be active as it is without any further additions. However, it does not keep for long in the fridge as the yeast are all active and need nutrients to survive.

You can not just substitute 1:1 fresh yeast with active dry or instant. They require different amounts for each. Because fresh yeast has some water in it, it requires a bit more yeast than you would use for the other two options (which also differ slightly as well). You must also check for activity (because the yeast doesn't store well) by placing a small amount of yeast into some warm water with a "pinch" of sugar and checking for foaming. The Spruce Eats has a good article on this. To quote the article:

Because fresh yeast has moisture in it, you should use 3 times the fresh yeast in weight for the same rising ability of instant yeast and 2.5 times the amount of active dry yeast.

  • 7 grams instant yeast = 1/4 ounce instant yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast = 21 grams fresh yeast or 1 1/4 blocks (0.6-ounce size) or about 1/2 block (2-ounce size) fresh yeast.

  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (3 grams) = 1/2 block (0.6 ounce size) fresh yeast.

  • 7 grams of active dry yeast = 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast = 17.5 grams fresh yeast = 1 block (0.6-ounce size) or 1/3 block (2-ounce size) of fresh yeast.

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast = 1/3 block (0.6-ounce size) of fresh yeast.

  • 8
    For what it's worth, checking for activity isn't a thing where I live at least. Fresh yeast is the most commonly used type of yeast and in all my years of using it I've never had to check for activity, nor is it recommended in general. Assuming you bought it within the expiration date, the yeast will be fine. This might vary from country to country of course.
    – William
    Jun 14, 2021 at 6:14
  • 2
    @WilliamMariager Thanks for that - when we used to get fresh yeast regularly, we always used to check that it still worked, but I think that may have been a hang-over from the days when expiry times weren't so common and frugality was more of an issue, so we possibly kept it for longer than recommended.
    – bob1
    Jun 14, 2021 at 8:21
  • 3
    @bob1 From my childhood I seem to remember that fresh yeast could spoil by molding, paradoxically. Jun 14, 2021 at 8:34
  • 1
    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Based on my experience of frugally using old "fresh" yeast, that's exactly how it usually spoils. It can also dry out. In either case, the yeast always worked and never failed even when I had to cut away pieces of mold or the outsides were visibly dried out. From this I deduce that William's comment is 100% correct and fresh yeast will always work if it's not obviously so spoiled that you can't use it anymore
    – Nobody
    Jun 14, 2021 at 13:11
  • 2
    +1 But just a minor point that instant yeast is not just for bread machines - plenty of bakeries use instant yeast just because it's more convenient and can be mixed in directly with the flour. It's the main type of yeast that I use also (it comes in 450g blocks, so easy to buy lots of) and I don't have a bread machine. Also, another type of yeast that's commonly found in the west is "pizza yeast", which is active dry yeast with added dough conditioners, etc (don't use this stuff!).
    – J...
    Jun 14, 2021 at 18:26

It's often called fresh yeast in English.

  • 6
    and this block is often called a 'cake' (cake [fresh] yeast)
    – CobaltHex
    Jun 14, 2021 at 16:47
  • Which dialect of English? In old American cookbooks, I’ve often seen it called ‘cake yeast’, as CobaltHex has mentioned. This might be one of those times when the answer isn’t quite so simple
    – Joe
    Jun 16, 2021 at 13:18

In German, this is also call fresh yeast (or baking yeast).

It is mostly sold as 42g cubes (as shown in your image).

Historicaly, most peaple bought it in a bakery, where a 500g portion was subdivided into 12 portions (41.66g).

Once supermarkets started, the 42g size was retained since that amount was needed for a 750g loaf of bread.

It should be used within 3 weeks.


At stores around where I live (California), this type of yeast is referred to this as wet yeast and the other granulated instant yeast as dry yeast.


Some more info on the now identified fresh yeast:

  • Fresh yeast has a very short storage life; it can only last about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • The color of fresh yeast should be pale and grayish brown, not dark brown.
  • The texture of fresh yeast should be soft and crumbly, not hard or crusty.
  • Fresh yeast is great for breads that require long fermentation and long rise time or for breads that require multiple proofs, as their active reaction lasts longer than dry yeast.

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