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I am considering selling my bread mixes online to serve customers outside of my bakery's region.

I will be vacuum packing the flour mix and sending them via post but to remove an extra step for our clients, I would like to know if there is any harm in adding the instant yeast amount to the flour mix itself. I don't have experience with such a scenario and am curious to know what the consensus is on this.

Thank you, Chris

  • I have no clue as to how well this would work. If it doesn’t, you might considering including a vacuum sealed packet containing the correct amount of yeast and let your customers add it. – Just Joel Mar 30 '18 at 20:38
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Active dry yeast will lose quality quickly once it is opened.

When you portion the yeast into your flour it will be exposed to oxygen and moisture from the air and flour. Even in vacuuming out the air there will still be some moisture in the flour. Some of the yeast will come out of dormancy and will consume their adjacent food and die.

How much yeast you lose will be variable- probably dependent on how fast you work, how well your vacuum sealer works, the ambient humidity that day, how long and at what temperature the mix is stored before use, etc.

There are plenty of anecdotes of regular people and even pastry chefs leaving yeast at room temperature for a few days with no loss of quality. It is hard to find scientifically observed shelf life numbers because the recommendation is to refrigerate or freeze yeast immediately upon opening. I suspect that it will be hard to find a definitive answer that fits your specific use case.

If you can portion your yeast in an environment free of moisture or air, if your customers will be using your mixes within a few days, or if the mixes will be refrigerated or frozen you should be fine. Otherwise your mixes will sometimes fail to rise.

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    So how do commercial bread mixes work then? The bag is paper, the stated shelf life is typically a few months, and I've used them a few months out of date with no problems. You literally add the water (and any fat), mix, knead, prove, bake (or put it in a breadmaker with the water). No vacuum seal, no reactivating the yeast, no separate sachet. – Chris H Mar 30 '18 at 20:50
  • @ChrisH It's a good question. It has to be possible. Maybe the flour is hydrophilic enough to keep most of the yeast dormant? I've left yeast at room temperature and it definitely wasn't viable after a month. – Sobachatina Mar 30 '18 at 21:59
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    You guys got me curious as I know I have seen the type of pre-mixes @ChrisH mentions, but I took a peek and the first 5 brands I pulled up fact sheets on, two of which I would have sworn did not use yeast packets, all said they did. I do not think we are recalling wrong, I do think ones with yeast mixed in exist, but they seem to be in the minority. I would guess it is along the lines of a coating on the yeast that keeps it more dormant until it gets wet, and probably a bit more yeast added to account for loss, but now I am very curious and will have to dig for answers. ;) – dlb Mar 31 '18 at 2:34
  • The mixes are common around here too, I have never used them, now I will try to remember to read the instructions on some or even buy and try so I will see if the yeast is added separately. One thing to support this answer: here in Germany yeast is usually sold in single use sachets, made from a strong foil - while the same brands sell sachets with other things like baking powder from cheaper and more environmentally friendly paper. – rumtscho Mar 31 '18 at 7:56
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You can certainly buy bread mixes to which you only have to add the liquid ingredients. So it's possible. But I don't know if the manufacturers have to do anything clever. Certainly it doesn't look like the yeast is all in one place, or anything like that.

Why not make a test batch of your proposed mix, store it for a couple of weeks, and then make it up? You could compare it side by side with the same recipe made from separate ingredients immediately before kneading.

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One thing to consider is that you will have to package the mix in single-batch sizes. Even if you mix it very evenly, the laws of physics mean that after some time, the yeast particles will settle unevenly throughout the package, either close to the top or close to the bottom. So, plan ahead your package sizes.

Other than that, I am not aware of any constraints, but I have not tried it either, so see this as a partial answer.

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