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Need fresh yeast

Hi going to make some Hot Cross buns for Easter , I can get the instant yeast but would love to find some fresh, no real problem where to get can travel

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  1. D'you mean cake yeast? You can get that at most decent supermarkets, though likely only Fleischmanns. It's usually in the dairy case next to the butter.

    Although having used all the usual forms of yeast (cake, active dry, instant and rapid-rise), I'm all about instant. Easiest to use and I find it most consistently gives a good controlled rise.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline

      Agreed, there is no difference in how it performs. Biologically there is very little difference in the actual organisms.

    2. The easiest avenue to purchase fresh yeast is via bakery that uses it. Piantedosi in Malden always has it at their outlet, albeit frozen. Central Bakery on Cambridge St in Cambridge is a bit more iffy and this is a very busy time of the year for them with Easter Folar, but if you are nice you might be able to get some. The folks at Winter Hill Bakery are very mellow and I think they still use fresh yeast, but its been a while since I bought any from them so not certain (they sell a lot of dough). There are others and Paul W Marks in Everett distributes fresh yeast (in larger quantities), but getting it from a bakery is easiest (and a lot cheaper by wt than the small squares a supermarket will offer).

      1. I have found them at my local Trucchi's and Sudbury Farms.
        Haven't seen them in Shaw's or Stop & Stop.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Chocomom

          Earlier this month, I was surprised to find some at the Shaw's in Porter Square. I don't know if they've restocked it.

          Also, according to a previous post on Chowhound, "Arax (in Watertown) usually has it in blocks that are around the size of a stick of butter". I can't confirm this because I haven't checked it out yet.

          I would try calling either location. Good luck.

        2. Last I bought fresh yeast (which admittedly is a while ago, maybe a year), I found it at the Super Stop & Shop in Watertown. I grew up with, and learned to bake with, fresh yeast, so really like it, but agree with Jenny that I don't think it makes a big difference in the final result.

            1. As a homebrewer - where this has been an ongoing debate for years - I am curious what makes fresh yeast more desireable from dried yeast when applied to baking?

              3 Replies
              1. re: LStaff

                I bought a 2 pack of Red Star bricks at BJs a year or two back, and have just about finished it. I keep a jar in the fridge, the rest in zip lock bags in the freezer.

                Re: homebrewing, you really want the most viable yeast. In contrast to bread yeast, when using homebrew yeast, you want it as active as possible as soon as it hits the wort, to in effect - crowd out- anything else that might impart off flavors to your brew. Unless you're into the Sommerville lambic style... :)

                1. re: okra

                  Really the argument for or against dry yeast these days comes down to the strain of yeast you want to use and the style of beer you want to make. Most dried yeasts are very comparable to its fresh counterpart of the same strain these days, but there is a limited variety of dried yeast strains compared to fresh.

                  And I'm really looking for the difference between dry and fresh when it comes to baking, not compared to homebrewing.

                2. re: LStaff

                  I am not an expert so take this with a grain of salt. With commercial baking you have active dry yeast, instant dry yeast (not "rapid rise"), and fresh yeast which is available in multiple forms (and there are some specialty yeasts for sugar dough). Active dry yeast generally you hydrate first, instant yeast you mix with dry ingredients, fresh yeast you usually mix with the wet ingredients but can pulse it with the mixer to break up and add dry ingredients (and there are multiple forms, not just cakes). Active and instant store particularly well, so are popular for pizzerias and restaurants, plus are easy to purchase from places like Costco, BJ's, and Restaurant Depot. Fresh yeast is easy to use and reliable if you have a good supplier, so its remained the standard for commercial baking recipes. You can freeze it, but then its no longer easier to use for production. There are bakeries moving to instant and active dry yeast has improved a lot. Aside from not having to change production and calculate percentages for formulas, fresh yeast maybe better than instant for pre-ferments and making starters like a poolish. Instant hydrates rapidly and gets off running so quickly it can let off a lot of CO2 -- I had an issue once with my starter making pizzas for a wedding, so went back to active... its also more expensive at least compared to active dry, not an issue for home bakers, but certainly a consideration for commercial use.

                  Translating for home bakers, it really doesn't matter whether you use active dry or instant yeast and its pretty easy to convert. Its most economical to get a commercial sized brick of the yeast and store it well sealed in your freezer (wholefoods does carry SAF or Red Star instant in this size, but is more expensive). I would stay away from the small cakes in most supermarkets, but for those who like fresh yeast bakeries are a good source and you can freeze the 1lb block cut into smaller pieces as it will make a lot of dough. At home you can also play around with different quantities of yeast, sometimes skip hydradating if the temperature is right, use fairly old yeast which hasn't been stored very well (if it hydrates...). When you are making commercial quantities, though, you don't want to mess around and end up with something that doesn't properly rise (or rises more quickly than you can form everything).

                  Bakers yeast is saccharomyces cerevisiae so ultimately its the same organism as beer/wine yeast (and why grapes are good material to make a sourdough starter). However, the manufacturers don't publicize exactly what strains they use in their formulation. Part of this is potentially because they sell baking yeast for 1/10 of the cost of their fermentation products, but there are differences between baking and brewing. In baking you are talking at most overnight rising vs multiple days to even months in wine making. Temperature isn't as variable (a proofing container is pretty manageable equipment, even for a restaurant), there is minimal sugar so alcohol isn't killing the yeast off, I don't think you have as low pH, etc. So with beer and wine yeasts, you certainly are paying a fair bit for marketing, but also for a yeast strain you are comfortable will ferment to an appropriate dryness in the conditions you need. And you know what is in there, the flavor characteristics, and that you can expect similar results from time to time.

                3. I am now swearing by hodgson mills packaged yeast - great rise and texture - for 40 cents a package, cannot go wrong; also switched to Hecker's unbleached flour which is great!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: phonelady

                    Heck I bought a pound bag of dried at Restaurant Depot, lasts in the fridge for years...

                    I do remember Arax having it. They sell dried and fresh I believe.