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QuestionIs yeast a vegetarian product? Where does it come from?
What about yeasts that contain extra ingredients ( certain emulsifiers...)?
Which type of yeast is best in pizza/bread making?
Jay, Australia

AnswerHello Jay!
Thanks for your enquiry.

Yeast is a single-celled fungus and works in bread by feeding upon the sugars in the dough. Later, it feeds on the maltose produced as starch granules are broken down by malt enzymes. As the yeast metabolises the sugars, it produces carbon dioxide and alcohol, a process in bread-making referred to as fermentation.

When the bread is placed in the oven to bake, the carbon dioxide expands in the heat and as it does it enlarges all the little air pockets by stretching the gluten.

Two types of yeast are available for baking bread: dry baking yeast, sometimes called dehydrated or dried yeast; and fresh yeast, sometimes called compressed yeast.

Brewer's and nutritional yeast are not suitable for breadmaking, since neither have any rising properties.

Note that although dry yeast and fresh yeast are interchangeable in a recipe, you will need about twice the volume of fresh yeast as dried yeast. In other words, if a recipe calls for one teaspoon of dried yeast, you will need about two level teaspoons of fresh yeast.

Yeast in Australia typically is a by-product of the brewing industry. If you consider yeast (it is a fungus, like a mushroom in a way) to be a vegetable then it is vegetarian.

You have to check the labels for the emulsifiers used in the dried yeast. Some may be 471 or 481  (mono- and poly- diglycerides of fatty acids) which can sometimes be from 'non-veg' origin. Ring the manufacturer's toll-free number or enquiry line listed on the packet to find out.

Fresh yeast is 'pure', if you consider a by-product of the brewing industry pure!

I prefer fresh yeast for all baking. You have to find more specialised shops that sell it - not available everywhere, and not usually in supermarkets.

Hope this helps.

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