What is the real difference between active dry yeast and instant yeast? I used active dry (which I keep a container of in the fridge) in a recipe that called for instant (the crust for Chicago-style deep dish pizza) and it turned out just fine. I did add a tiny pinch of sugar and the water then walked away for a few minutes before continuing and adding the rest of the ingredients and mixing when I realized I was using active, not instant. Is that the only real difference? That it needs a little extra time to start working?
instant vs active dry yeast
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I think you hit on the answer yourself. You don't have to proof instant yeast--just throw it in with the rest of the dry ingredients and mix away. I think that instant yeast is more vigorous than active dry and I use less of it, but that is probably just superstition on my part.
Plus-- a pound of instant yeast ordered from KAF is wayyyyyy cheaper than buying active dry at the store. Pour out a little in a small jar--what you will use in the next few weeks--and stash the rest in a bigger jar in the freezer. It will last forever.
It's always been my understanding that you CAN proof instant dry yeast (IDY) but you don't have to.
Instant yeast has more live cells in it. You can use it straight from the freezer, no need to keep some separate. I go through about two of the SAF instant yeast in a year. I hope this helps
Most of the baking I do is in a bread machine and all those recipes call for active dry, so I keep a small container of it in the fridge. If I wanted to keep instant on hand, instead, then, do I just use a little less in the machine? I'm starting to try my hand at more outside the machine and it seems like a lot of those recipes want instant.
I don't think I've ever made a bread machine recipe that called for active dry yeast, which has to be proofed. I'm not sure I've even SEEN one, and I've got at least a half dozen books with bread machine recipes in them.
IDY is just easier to use and 99% of the time I can't tell the difference. I've found ONE recipe where it makes a significant difference, and that was James Beard's Monkey Bread recipe. It's a slow riser, and with IDY it's a REALLY slow riser.
BTW, usually I go through a pound of IDY in about two months here, (less during the summer when I don't bake as much.)
I keep it in the freezer and just add it straight out of the freezer. If I'm making several things in the same day, I usually don't bother to put it back in between batches.
If a recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, I'd probably use 1 3/4 teaspoons of IDY. I'm not sure that's enough to make a noticeable difference in either how much it rises or how it tastes, though.
I believe that the yeast cells collapse and die off more quickly in IDY. Active dry yeast works well with slow rise bread (which I think tastes much better :-)
Here's the difference, according to Harold McGee in "On Food and Cooking," 2004 edition:
"Active dry yeast [has] a protective coating of yeast debris. [...] can be stored at room temperature for months. [Needs to be reactivated by soaking] in warm water, 105-110ºF." I've also read (in Corriher, I think) that putting yeast in cold water is a good way to kill them.
"Instant dry yeast [takes up water more rapidly than 'active,'] does not need to be prehydrated before mixing with other dough ingredients, and produces carbon dioxide more vigorously than active dry yeast."
I have to say that I use them interchangeably, store both in the freezer and do not prehydrate either. I use yeast mostly to make bread, not so much sugar-containing doughs. It might make more of a difference in the latter.
Hope that helps.