There are many different types of yeast that you can purchase for your home baking needs. Each type of yeast has its own specific set of characteristics and is best used in certain applications. Yeast comes in all sorts of different packaging, from small sachets that contain just a few grams, to large jars that hold more than a pound (0.5kg).
The most common form of yeast is the active dry yeast or instant yeast. Both come in different sizes and packaging, so let’s see how much yeast is in a packet.
What is Yeast?
Yeast is a single-celled microorganism that is classified as a fungus. To thrive, yeast needs warmth and moisture as well as a food source, which is usually sugar. When yeast feeds on the sugars in the dough, the dough begins to produce carbon dioxide gas which is what allows your dough to rise.
The rising action of yeast is what gives bread its characteristic light and airy texture. When you add yeast to flour and water (or any other liquid), it begins to work on the starch and proteins in the dough, breaking them down into simpler compounds.
Yeast is most commonly associated with breadmaking but it has plenty of other applications such as brewing beer or making wine.
Types of Yeast
There are three types of yeast that are most commonly used in baking: active dry yeast, instant yeast, and fresh yeast.
Active Dry Yeast
Active Dry Yeast is the most common form of yeast and can be found in both small packets and jars.
This type of yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water before it can be used. This is also known as ‘blooming’ yeast. Active dry yeast typically blooms within 15 minutes once it has frothed up and looks like a beer head.
The warm water activates the yeast, hence why it’s called ‘active’. Once the yeast has bloomed, it can be added to the rest of your ingredients. If you are unsure if your yeast is still active, you can test it with a few simple tricks.
Active dry yeast can be used in most bread recipes but is not as fast-acting as instant yeast.
Instant Yeast is a form of dried yeast that has been pre-hydrated. This type of yeast does not need to be bloomed and can be added directly to your dry ingredients.
Instant yeast is also known as ‘fast-acting’ or ‘rapid-rise’ yeast and is the best choice for recipes that have a short rising time. One advantage of using instant yeast is that you can add it directly to the flour, which saves time when making bread. Instant yeast is also more tolerant of temperature changes than active dry yeast.
Instant yeast is my go-to yeast when baking bread at home as I don’t have to bloom it or worry that it will spoil as easily.
Fresh yeast, also known as ‘compressed yeast’, is the least common type of yeast and can be difficult to find in stores. This type of yeast is perishable and has a short shelf life, so it must be used within a few days of being purchased. Because of its short shelf life, it is typically found in the refrigerated section of most stores.
Fresh yeast is sold in small blocks and has a high moisture content. This type of yeast needs to be dissolved in warm water before it can be used, similar to active dry yeast.
Fresh yeast is the best choice for bread recipes that have a long rising time.
So, How Much Yeast is in a Packet?
How much yeast is in a packet depends on the type of yeast you buy and how it is measured.
Active dry yeast and instant yeast usually come in packets of 3 and up to 9. Each individual packet, or envelope, has about 7 grams of yeast. This might not seem like a lot but a little goes a long way when baking bread.
When using fresh yeast, each block is about 57 grams or 2 ounces. You can also find fresh yeast in 0.6-ounce size (17 grams).
Substituting instant or active yeast for fresh yeast can be a little tricky as it’s not as simple as measuring out 7 grams. A good rule of thumb is to use 3 times the fresh yeast for instant yeast and 2.5 times for active dry yeast.
So, for 7 grams of instant yeast, use 21 grams of fresh yeast and for 7 grams of active yeast, use 17.5 grams of fresh yeast.
7 grams of instant or active yeast equates to 2 1/4 teaspoons. So, if your recipe calls for a packet of yeast but you only have jars, add 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast.
If you are measuring in ounces, 7 grams will be 1/4 ounces.
If you only have tablespoons to hand and are wondering how much 2 1/4 teaspoons of yeast equates to, measure out 3/4 tablespoons.
If I were you, I would recommend you stick to instant yeast. It’s easy to use and easy to measure out. Measuring out fresh yeast, as you can see, needs some deciphering.
How many packets of yeast do I need to make bread?
The short answer is: it depends on the recipe.
Most recipes will call for either one packet of active dry yeast or instant yeast (7 grams).
If you want to make a large batch of bread or rolls, you might need two packets. But if you’re just making a small loaf or two, one packet is more than enough.
Some dough recipes that require slow fermentation can ask for as little as 1 or 2 grams of yeast. How on earth do you measure such a small amount?
Luckily, my kitchen scales are very sensitive and can pick up the tiniest amount of yeast. You can also get your hands on electronic measuring spoons which can detect even 0.1 grams.
If you find yourself measuring small amounts quite a lot, investing in small measuring spoons is essential in the kitchen. If you struggle to get 1 or 2 grams to show on your scales, keep in mind that 1/5 of a teaspoon is a gram so can always base your measurements on that.
How To Store Yeast
In terms of storing yeast, it depends on what type of packaging it has come in. Active yeast in individual packets can be stored in the pantry for up to a year, even if it passes the expiry date.
Active dry yeast that has come in a jar should be refrigerated once it has been opened and can be used until the expiration date on the package. Just make sure you bring it to room temperature when you want to use it.
Instant yeast is usually found in packets and can be stored at room temperature. If you open the packet and you don’t use it all simply put the remaining yeast in an airtight container and store it in the fridge.
For active dry yeast or instant yeast that is in packets or unopened jars, make sure that they are stored in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. If you get your hands on fresh yeast, make sure you refrigerate it as soon as you can and use it before the best before date.
All 3 types of yeast can also be stored in the freezer for up to 3 to 6 months if used. Unopened yeast can last a few years in the freezer.
So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about yeast and how much is in a packet. Always stick to the recipe when it comes to adding yeast and you can’t go wrong.
If you are not sure what type of yeast to buy, I would go with instant or rapid yeast. It’s hassle-free!