There is something absolutely magical about yeast, wouldn’t you agree? It is fascinating how you can pour something into a bowl of wet and dry ingredients and watch the dough rise. Some strains of yeast can also be used for brewing up delectable spirits. Yet, depending on the kind of yeast you use, the results and flavors of your edible or potable concoction might vary dramatically. That is why we’re going to discuss the differences between distillers yeast vs bakers yeast today.
After all, you don’t want to go picking up the wrong kind of yeast and end up with flat bread.
What is Yeast?
Yeast is alive, in a sense, as a single-celled organism that loves to consume sugar and produce carbon dioxide. There are more than 1,500 identified strains of yeast, and many of them are naturally found across the planet.
How Does Yeast Work in Baking?
Yeast, as you know, feeds on sugars then produces carbon dioxide and alcohol, which is more or less the whole fermentation process. That is why yeast is used both in alcohol production and baking. Yet, some yeast is better for baking bread than it is for brewing beer. For instance, with some strains, the carbon dioxide produced will get trapped in the dough as small bubbles that create enough lift that the dough will rise.
Any alcohol that is created during this process will evaporate when exposed to the heat of your oven. The alcohol forms gases that also contribute to the rise of your bread.
What is Distillers Yeast Used For?
Distillers yeast, as you may have guessed, does its best work when distilling spirits. The species is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and it works wonders when metabolizing sugars and producing strong alcohol in exchange. The kind of distillers yeast you select will affect the outcome of your alcohol. The flavors and aromas of rum, whiskey, and moonshine tend to be based on the quality of distillers yeast, while the depth of vodka is caused by the lack of yeast.
Kinds of Distillers Yeast
As mentioned above, there are many kinds of distillers yeast available. Some brands, like Turbo yeast, are made specifically for alcohol fermentation. Others are best at producing ethanol. What you need to know is that some distillers yeasts are considered bread yeasts, meaning that they can produce CO2 quickly, allowing the dough to rise. However, those same bread yeasts fail at making alcohol, because the yeast does not survive long.
What is Bakers Yeast?
Baker’s yeast is a kind of yeast that is used for commercial and home baking and comes from the same strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae as distillers yeast, though bakers yeast variants are better suited for bread than distilled spirits. You will find bakers yeast in a number of grocers anywhere in the world, and those include Wet (or Cake or Compressed) Yeast, Instant (Fast-Rising) Yeast, and Active Dry Yeast. Interestingly, all forms of bakers yeast are derived from a liquid called cream yeast.
Kinds of Bakers Yeast
As mentioned above, there are a couple types of bakers yeast that you can choose for use at home. The two you will find most often are active dry yeast and instant yeast.
Active dry yeast comes in a packet that is filled with dehydrated yeast cells. A number of the cells are dead, but there are some that are alive yet dormant. This is why “proofing” is usually the first step involved with using active dry yeast, where you must reactivate the yeast by dissolving it into a warm liquid. The dead cells are sloughed off, leaving the living centers ready for action.
Though you don’t always have to proof your active dry yeast, it is a good idea if you have scrounged up a dusty old packet from the back of the pantry.
Instant yeast is sometimes called bread machine yeast. Finer than active dry yeast, this form does not require proofing and can be poured immediately into your dry ingredients. Instant yeast is also more potent, since it contains far more living cells.
Lastly, there is fresh yeast, also known as cake or wet yeast. This is the closest to that cream yeast we mentioned earlier. Being that it is composed entirely of living cells and not hydrated, fresh yeast is highly perishable. Cake yeast, as the name implies, is mainly used by professional bakers who want more distinct flavors in their creations.
Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast: Which is Best for Baking?
Wondering, “Can I use distillers yeast to make bread?” It may seem like a dilemma, but most generic brands use a mixture of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast. You should be able to make bread from distillers yeast, in most cases. One thing to keep in mind is that the density and flavor of your bread might not be what you were craving. Since distillers yeast will release carbon dioxide in much greater quantities, you will get larger air bubbles, which could affect the constitution of the bread.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t give it a try! Who knows, you might end up adoring the flavor of bread made with distillers yeast.
For all around baking, active dry yeast, instant yeast, and wet yeast are all excellent choices. The most robust flavors come from wet yeast, but you can get the same crusty, hearty breads from active dry yeast.
What about using active dry yeast or instant yeast for making alcohol? While distillers yeast is designed to produce more ethanol, you can certainly use bakers yeast in a pinch. However, you must keep in mind that the amount of alcohol produced is going to be much lower that what distillers yeast would generate. Still, you will be able to make an acceptable cider or mead.
Final Thoughts on Distillers Yeast vs Bakers Yeast
At the end of the day, yeast is yeast. You can use any kind of yeast in baked goods and for making alcohol. However, they have names for a reason. Distillers yeast is ideal for making stronger alcohol, while bakers yeast is formulated to make dough rise. Plus, distillers yeast might not impart the same amount of flavor and scent in freshly baked bread as bakers yeast would.