What Is Yeast?

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Learning more about yeast can help you become a better home cook. Click here to discover how to use this ingredient in easy recipes. 

Have you ever stopped to consider what yeast is? It’s more than an ingredient. Yeast is actually a single-celled living organism. That’s right. It’s a fungus, also known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 

But don’t let those words spook you! Although it’s technically a scientific-sounding living ingredient, this component is essential to making bread, beer, and wine. It’s officially been around since the time of the ancient Egyptians, but there’s a good possibility it was used long before that. 

Today, let’s discover more about yeast. We’ll cover where yeast comes from, how to use it, and then we’ll show you quick bready recipes and recipes you can make with yeast!

Where Does Yeast Come From?

Yeast comes from the mixture of yeast cells with molasses. From there, it grows until the chemical reactions within it make it large enough to use. 

However, yeast is not purely man-made; it occurs in nature, too. Take fruit, for example. When you cut a piece of fruit open and expose it to the air, yeast cells in the air will react to the sugar inside. As they react, the fermentation process begins, which produces ethanol and carbon dioxide as byproducts. 

You can also make yeast in your kitchen by combining water and flour to produce a sourdough starter if you're making sourdough bread. Yeast cells in the air will feed on your flour and grow.

The formation of this microorganism seems somewhat magical. What you can make with yeast can be even more satisfying and delicious.

What Is the Purpose of Yeast?

How often do you enjoy cake, avocado toast, dinner rolls, or cinnamon buns? If you enjoy those foods, you can thank yeast. One of the primary uses for yeast is leavening bread and other baked treats! 

Have you ever wondered what makes alcoholic drinks alcoholic? The chemical process that takes place in yeast helps lay the foundation for beer and winemaking. The presence of yeast is what influences the alcohol present in beer and wine. 

Which Foods Contain Yeast?

Although bread, beer, and wine are the most prominent foods that contain yeast, there are a few more surprising foods that contain yeast products. 

Here is a brief list:

When yeast is included in a food’s ingredients, it can serve different purposes. In some cases, yeast helps add carbonation. In others, this single-cell organism adds a unique flavor. Still, one of the most common purposes for yeast is that it helps bread rise.

All About the Different Types of Yeast

When learning about yeast, you’ll want to know about the several different varieties that are available to you. Knowing how each of these varieties is unique will help you produce the best bread and baked goods.

What Is Fresh Yeast?

The first yeast variety we’ll learn about is fresh yeast. You might hear other people call this type wet yeast, compressed yeast, or cake yeast. This kind is available in small square chunks consisting of fresh yeast cells. These fresh yeast cakes are often used in professional baking, and they contain a 70 percent moisture content.

What Is Active Dry Yeast Vs. Instant Yeast? 

Yeast is most often available in active dry yeast and instant yeast. Instant yeast contains smaller particles than active dry yeast, and it comes in tiny granules that can quickly absorb liquid. This strain of yeast is often used for bread machines along with a dough conditioner. 

The biggest difference between these types of yeast is the fact that instant dry yeast is ready for use while active dry yeast needs to be activated.

One thing to know about instant yeast is that it can come in a variety called quick rising or rapid The enzymes and additives in this rapid rise yeast can help your dough rise more quickly. Keep in mind that when you use this kind of yeast, it can cause your bread to rise in half the time. Then, you can move on to kneading and shaping your dough into loaves.

Here’s How To Cook with Yeast

Before you begin cooking or bread baking with yeast, you might want to check to see if the yeast is still alive. This step is called “proofing” the yeast. To test its status, pour a half cup of room temperature or slightly warm water into a bowl. Then, sprinkle a small amount of yeast and add a pinch of sugar. Next, mix it, and then let the substance rest for 5-7 minutes.

If, after a few minutes, the yeast dissolves in the liquid and you notice bubbles or foam forming, that means the yeast is active! You can add it to your dough and let the rising time commence. 

When you’re searching for a place for your dough to rise, try to find an area with no draft and a naturally warm atmosphere. If you need to, you can heat your oven to around 90 degrees by preheating it at 150 degrees and turning it off quickly. Then, wait a few minutes and set your dough inside, cracking the door ajar. This should provide an adequate temperature for your dough to rise without cooking.

A Few Tips if Dough Is Not Rising

If your bread dough isn’t rising, you might be wondering what’s preventing it. Here are a few of the common reasons your dough may not be rising well:

Two Easy Recipes You Can Make With Yeast

When you’re ready to try cooking with dough, you don’t have to follow an over-complicated recipe. You can try making our Cinnamon Rolls to cook with yeast and test your skills!

Our sticky, sweet Cinnamon Rolls are fresh and super tasty. Plus, they’re ready in under an hour! Perfect for serving guests at your next weekend brunch.

Homemade Pizza Dough hits different! Store bought is easy, convenient and delicious. We're all for it. BUT biting into a perfectly crispy, chewy hot pizza crust is an unmatched experience. You'll feel the reward in every bite. See for yourself with our step by step video tutorial for homemade pizza dough. You'll thank us later!

Quick Bread-Based Recipes You Can Make This Week

Some days call for fresh-baked yeast bread. Others call for paninis, bruschetta, french toast, and banana bread. When you’re in the mood for filling bread-based snacks and dishes, making something delicious is easier than you think! 

Let’s explore eight of our yeast-free Jow bread-based recipes. Then, we’ll talk about how we can make groceries easier for you!

Banana Bread

Have you ever visited a friend’s house to be delightfully surprised by them offering you fresh-baked banana bread? You don’t have to wait for a friend to make this rainy-day treat. You can bake delicious banana bread with a few ingredients.

Our Banana Bread recipe only calls for ten minutes of prep time. After that, you can stick your loaf in the oven and let it do the work. Then, cool it, slice it, and enjoy!

Best Garlic Bread

Let’s say you’re having guests over for an Italian-themed dinner party complete with delicious Fettuccine Alfredo and sparkling white wine. When you’re looking for the perfect side dish to serve your guests, look no further. Our Best Garlic Bread recipe is ready in less than fifteen minutes, and it’s a winner every time. 

Breaded Mediterranean Tomatoes

There’s something mouth-watering about fresh-cooked tomatoes. If you’re on the hunt for a breaded side dish for your main course, our Breaded Mediterranean Tomatoes recipe does the trick. This recipe only calls for five ingredients, and it’s ready in 25 minutes!

Prosciutto and Arugula Panini

There’s no need to visit a deli when this simple recipe exists! Our Prosciutto and Arugula Panini is a fancy version of a sandwich if there ever was one. Enjoy thin-sliced prosciutto, creamy mozzarella, pesto, and arugula on a perfectly toasted piece of bread. You can enjoy this dish in under ten minutes.

Caprese Bruschetta

You might be familiar with a Caprese salad. What if we told you that you could enjoy the same delectable flavors on delicious toasted bread? This Caprese Bruschetta recipe only calls for four ingredients, and you can enjoy it in five minutes. Talk about easy!

Apple Bread

You’re probably already aware of how delicious banana bread can be. If you’re in the mood for something different, why not give Apple Bread a try? This sweet loaf will make you feel like a professional home baker in no time. It only requires ten minutes of prep time, and then you can stick it in the oven and enjoy the fruits of your labor (no pun intended)!

Strawberry French Toast

French toast is already a swoon-worthy breakfast treat. Add brioche bread, and the meal gets even more exciting. You’ll love the taste of this authentic Brioche French Toast, and you’ll love how easy it is to prepare. It’s ready in 12-13 minutes! 

How Cooking With Jow Can Make Meals Easier

If you struggle with preparing meals from home, we don’t blame you. Whether you typically prepare solo meals or you’re prepping for a large household, we know it takes a lot of time and effort that you don’t always have at the end of the day. 

At Jow, there are a few ways we love making meals easy for you. Let’s explore them!

Let us make your meals more tasty and straightforward!

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