What do You do When Your Yeast Runs Out or Gets Old?

You are getting ready to make a few loafs of bread from your freshly ground wheat and you grab your yeast and see it is a few years old what do you do?  You don’t want to waste the food by using bad yeast. It is simple you proof the yeast by mixing a small quantity of yeast with an equal amount of sugar.  Add the mixture to warm water (105-115 degrees).  Active yeast will begin to expand and become bubbly within five to ten minutes.  If this reaction takes longer, you can still use the yeast, but you will need to use more than normal.  Yeast that shows no reaction should be discarded.

Active dry yeast should have a shelf life of approximately 2 years at 70 degrees.  Keeping it refrigerated should extend the storage life to around 3 to 5 years.  Freezing it will extend the storage life, but you should proof a sample before use if it is over a couple of years old..

Red Star Yeast states the following.  “Each package and jar of dry yeast is stamped with a Best if Used by‘ date.  This date is two years from the date the yeast was packaged.  The month and year reflect when you should use your yeast by.

Unopened  packages and jars should be stored in a cool, dry place such as a cupboard; and can also be stored in the refrigerator or freezer.  Yeast is very perishable when exposed to air, moisture and/or heat. Once your package or jar is opened the yeast must be refrigerated or frozen in an airtight container (see storage tips below).  Under these conditions, we recommend using the Dry Yeast within 4 months after opening if refrigerated, or within 6 months after opening if frozen.

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Dry Yeast should be at room temperature before using .  When you are ready to bake, take out only the amount of yeast needed for your recipe and let it sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes before using.  Immediately put remaining yeast back into storage, following the storage tips below.

Yeast is a living organism, and will lose activity over time – even if the package is unopened.  If you are unsure of your yeast’s activity, perform the Yeast Freshness Test before using.


To prepare your dry yeast open packages for refrigerated or frozen storage:

  • Fold the package down to yeast level (this removes the extra air).
  • Seal with some tape or a clip before putting into storage.
  • If you have a large opened package, separate dry yeast into multiple zipper bags and push out any air before sealing.
  • Label bags with “Best if used by” date and date package was opened.”

If you are out of yeast, you can use one of the following recipes from some older articles in my blog Soda Bread with Vinegar, Salt Rising Bread, and Old Ways to Leaven Bread

With a little knowledge, you will be able to bake bread without yeast.



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2 thoughts on “What do You do When Your Yeast Runs Out or Gets Old?”

  1. I tried your “proof” test on some old yeast. No bubbles. I threw it out and bought a 113 gram bottle of Fleischmann’s bread machine yeast dated Jan 27 2023 for C$4.99. I “tested” it – 1/2 teaspoon of yeast and also of sugar and 1 tablespoon of warm water. Got the same result – no bubbles. After 10 minutes I added more hot water to that mix and got a bit of “foam”. Should I take the yeast back or change the test/proof?

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