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Sunday, 22 August 2010

Yeast Equivalents – AGAIN

summary: calculating yeast equivalents; why guessing is sometimes less painful; (click on yeast image to see larger view and javascript yeast measurement converter)

post edited to add nifty javascript yeast measurement converter


There will be no guesswork in OUR kitchen.

– my sister’s grade 10 Home-Ec teacher, 1st cooking class ¹

Yes. It’s true. I love measuring. And I LOVE to play with calculators. It’s particularly thrilling for me when I get to halve a recipe.

I used to be good at multiplying and dividing in my head but I’ve become spoiled by machines and am now entirely dependent on them. If I were very good at the bead work, I’d use the abacus instead – I love the idea of being unplugged.

Every so often, I want to make a recipe that calls for fresh yeast and I don’t have fresh yeast. Of course, I have nothing against using fresh yeast. And I can get it but I’m a.) lazy and b.) a skinflint. (Fresh yeast is not that easily found around here and when it is, it’s not cheap.)

yeast Instead, I use the Fleischmann’s active dry yeast we always have on hand. (Why do I always choose active dry yeast? Because that’s what my mother always uses.) Ironically, if I lived in the USA, I could buy Fleischmann’s fresh (aka compressed or cake) yeast, but in Canada, only the dry versions are available.

But this is only a good thing! I get to use my calculator!

Every time I use a recipe calling for fresh yeast, I have to look everywhere for the formula in order to go through these same calculations. Every time!!

Okay, okay. I know that it doesn’t really matter in a home bread recipe exactly how much yeast, right down to the gram, is used. But it’s the principle!! (And besides, if I’m going to do the calculations, I want them to be right!)

I always look at the various likely books on our shelves, as well as scouring the internet for yeast conversion charts and data. The pain of it all is that I can’t seem to remember that I’ve done the searching and calculations until after I’ve done them. :stomp:

Harold McGee, of course, has a huge section on yeast in his book “On Food and Cooking” but nowhere does he talk about equivalents. Pamela Cross’ “Kitchen Wisdom” is entirely useless, mentioning the three types of yeast: wild, dry and compressed then goes on to give a basic bread recipe (that looks fine) calling for active dry yeast and no hint at how to substitute one kind of yeast for another. In “Piano Piano Pieno”, Susan McKenna Grant writes at length about the various yeasts, saying that “if you use fresh yeast, you should use roughly three times as much by weight [as instant yeast]” and goes on some more to say how much by weight you should use if you are using active dry instead of instant yeast. The backtracking and rereading of these three or four paragraphs required to calculate from fresh to active dry following McKenna Grant’s formula are enough to make one decide to just go out and buy the bread ready-made.

Of the sources I have found that succinctly address (heh, I could learn from them, yes??) the substitution, NOBODY seems to agree about what is equivalent!

Here are the various yeast conversion formulae I have come across in my travels:

nifty javascript yeast measurement converter

for every cup of flour in the recipe, use either of

    3 grams compressed fresh yeast
    2 grams active dry yeast
    1 gram instant active dry yeast

-Maggie Glezer, “Artisan Baking Across America”

Substitute twice as much (by weight) fresh yeast for the amount of dry yeast called for in the recipe.

-Daniel Leader, “Local Breads”

1 g fresh = 0.5 g active dry = 0.4 g instant

-Susan (Wild Yeast),

2+1/2 tsp (one package) active dry yeast = 18 gm cake fresh yeast

-Carol Field, “The Italian Baker”

A .6-oz [17gm] cube of cake yeast is roughly equivalent to 1½ to 2 tsp. instant yeast or 2 to 2¼ tsp. active dry yeast.

-Sydny Carter, Yeast: The Basics,

One .6 ounce [17 grams] cake is equivalent to 1 envelope [.25 ounce/7 grams] of dry yeast.

-Fleischmann’s Yeast FAQ,

yeast, compressed . . . . 1 cake, 3/5 oz . . . . 1 package active dry yeast

-Irma S. Rombauer, Know your ingredients, Joy of Cooking

To convert recipes calling for fresh compressed yeast to instant yeast; Use 0.32 times the weight; or, for 1 packed tablespoon (21 grams) fresh yeast, use 2 teaspoons [6.4gm] instant yeast.

-Rose Levy Beranbaum, “The Bread Bible”, p.562

1 packed tablespoon of fresh or cake yeast=21 grams which=2-1/2 [8gm] teaspoons active dry (so for 100 grams fresh yeast use 1/4 cup + 1/2 teaspoon or 40 grams active dry)

-Rose Levy Beranbaum,

Some years ago, with mixed up logic, I managed to work out the following formula. Remarkably, the bread I made rose beautifully.

2½ tsp (8gm) active dry yeast = 50gm fresh yeast

-me, my house

I consulted with the other BBBabes about this (actually, I ranted and raved to them) and here are some of the replies:

42 grams of fresh yeast is standard amount for 1 kg flour in Austria. 7 grams of dried yeast (we only have one kind) for same amount of flour.

-Astrid (Paulchens Foodblog)

50 g of fresh yeast is the standard amount for doughs (savoury or sweet) that you let rise quickly, from 30 minutes to 1 hour. You should use a little less than half that amount. It would be a normal amount for slow rising doughs of normal size.

-Görel (Grain Doe)

Depending on whose formula I use, to replace 50gm fresh yeast, I should use anywhere from 8 to 32.5 gm active dry yeast. (I think I have the arithmetic right with the various formulae: 32.5gm, 25gm, 22.5gm, 17.5-20gm, 20gm, 8.3 OR 8gm active dry in place of 50 gm fresh yeast)

So. After all these contortions? I’ve decided that I’ll use the higher amount of active dry to replace fresh yeast if there’s lots of sugar in the recipe, but the lower amount if there’s little sugar in the recipe.

measuring in OUR kitchen: abbreviations used . temperature conversion formula . a few equivalents and common ingredients . yeast conversions . flour weight equivalents . bread making notes

1. Re: no guesswork in OUR kitchen:

All this really proves to me is that my younger sister’s grade 10 Home-Ec teacher was wrong wrong wrong about there being no guesswork in the kitchen.

peeling apples It’s not the only thing she was mistaken about. This was the same woman who told the class that they were NOT to call this utensil a “potato peeler” because one could peel other vegetables with it and they were always to refer to it as a “vegetable peeler”.

We older sisters, being older sisters, tried to get her in trouble by telling her to go back to the teacher and ask innocently if it shouldn’t be called a “produce peeler” because one could use it to peel apples.


Maybe now after all these convolutions and droning about converting fresh yeast amounts for active dry yeast and vice versa, I’ll remember what I’ve come up with. I hope so. I hope so!

edit 24 August 2010: I’m not the only crazed person in the family. Here is a nifty javascript to calculate the conversion from fresh to active dry yeast that one of my sisters created after reading this post.

(I had FITS getting it to work online. It kept throwing errors until I removed the doctype declaration from the top of the page. Rrrrrrrr. Sometimes I loathe those freaks who are setting the standards with HTML. :stomp:

This online calculator really is handy. Although it doesn’t give substitutions….


edit 26 August 2010: Oops. I missed inserting this yeast conversion advice from The Fresh Loaf FAQ page (echoing Vesna’s reply that appears below):

If you are substituting active dry yeast for instant yeast in a recipe, […] add about 20 percent more yeast to the recipe than what is called for. […] If you encounter a recipe that uses fresh yeast, divide the weight by 3 to calculate the proper amount of instant yeast to use.

-Yeast FAQ,

This post is partially mirrored on The Fresh Loaf

  • Patricia

    As I recall, the teacher just pursed her lips at me. I had an instructor at a cooking class a few years ago that spoke quite severely to us about dry measurement vs liquid measurement and we should be sure never to use the dry measuring cup for the liquid measuring cup. I carefully followed the instructions in the class but as soon as I got home, I had to check. As I suspected, if I measure 2 half cups using my favourite stainless spoons it measures exactly 1 cup in the liquid measuring cup (that I had to search for). Now I use my favourite stainless measuring spoons for everything all the time–liquid OR dry. I’m such a rebel!

    I rarely measure anything below 1/8 cup. I have 3 large stainless measuring spoons–1/2 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/8 cup–that I really like. I use them for dry measure and liquid measurement. Everything else is eyeballed. If I have to be fairly rigid about small amounts, I use a tablespoon from the drawer that I would use to eat my cereal or a teaspoon from the drawer that I would use to stir my tea. I’m not even sure where the small measuring spoons are.

  • Claudia

    All I can say about measuring is that I love, love my digital scale. On another note, re your query to me, I thought you might enjoy this link: as there is a ton of good beet recipes there. Also, Thyme for Cooking has a new post up with pickled beets on it.

  • ejm

    I really like my digital scale too, Claudia. I’d love it if it measured in fractions of grams but do realize that it’s not really that important for me to be able to do.

    It doesn’t surprise me in the least that you have no idea where your official measuring spoons are, Patricia. I blame that teacher. (I think the spoons are in the drawer under the flour cupboard. At least that’s where I think I remember finding them the last time I was there looking for them.)

    Take a look at this really nifty javascript that one of my other sisters put together. I love the really useless information that it produces with the flick of the simple flick of the “enter” key. (I’ve also added the link to the bottom of the post too.)

    One really handy thing about all this is that I’m not likely to forget about the various formulae and calculations THIS time. :-)


  • Vesna

    The simplest way to covert fresh to dry yeast is 10g of fresh yeast equals 1 teaspoon (5ml) of dry yeast. This blog post goes into more details:


    P.S. Can’t live without my DS (digital scale), too :-)

    edit: Excellent!! I love that this is yet another formula, Vesna. I can now add another number, 17gm active dry, to my list of substitutions for 50gm fresh yeast! I’m surprised I didn’t come across your formula on my travels over the internet. -Elizabeth

    edited to add quote from

    from fresh yeast to dry – divide amount by 3, eg. instead of 30 grams of fresh yeast use 10 grams of dry […] 10g of fresh yeast = 1 teaspoon of dry yeast
    10 : 3 = 3.33 g


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