Where Does Baking Yeast Come From? Unveiling Its Origins!

Baking yeast is an essential ingredient used in the production of various bakery items. It is responsible for the dough to rise, making it soft and fluffy. Have you ever wondered where baking yeast comes from? We will dive into the topic and shed some light on the origins of baking yeast.

What is Yeast?

Yeast is a type of microscopic fungus that belongs to the family of Saccharomyces cerevisiae or Candida utilis. It is an essential ingredient in the baking industry as it is used to make the dough rise. Yeast converts the sugars present in the dough into carbon dioxide and ethanol, which makes the dough to rise and become fluffy.

The Origins of Baking Yeast

The use of yeast in baking dates back over 5,000 years. The ancient Egyptian civilization is believed to have been the first to use yeast in their baking. They used yeast to ferment the dough, which resulted in the dough becoming lighter and fluffier. The process was so successful that the use of yeast spread to other countries like Greece and Italy, and eventually, it became the norm in the whole world.

The First Commercial Production of Yeast

The first commercial production of yeast started in the early 1800s in France. The French chemist Louis Pasteur was the first to discover yeast’s role in fermentation in 1857, which he later developed to form the foundation of modern brewing and baking. The use of fresh yeast was limited to one day, and bakers needed a new method of preserving yeast. In 1868, a method of preserving yeast by the German chemist, Max von Pettenkofer, was developed by drying it, which could be reactivated by adding water.

The Process of Making Baking Yeast

Commercial baking yeast is different from the natural yeast found in the air, and its manufacturing process involves several steps. The process of making baking yeast involves the following steps:

1. Cultivation

The first step in the manufacturing process is to cultivate the yeast. The yeast undergoes a series of tests to check for purity, and the appropriate strain is selected for further use.

2. Fermentation

The next step is fermentation, where the yeast strain is cultivated for a specific period under favorable conditions to grow and multiply.

3. Harvesting

The yeast is harvested and then washed repeatedly to remove dead cells, unwanted proteins, and other particles. The yeast is then packaged for further processing.

4. Drying

The final step is to dry the yeast, which reduces its moisture content to 10%. The yeast is then packaged and sent to various bakeries and supermarkets where it is sold to customers.

The Types of Baking Yeast

There are several types of baking yeast available in the market, and each has a unique quality that makes it suitable to use in different baking items. The three most common types are:

  • Baker’s Yeast
  • Active Dry Yeast
  • Instant Yeast

Baker’s Yeast

Baker’s yeast is fresh yeast that is used primarily by professional bakers. It has a short shelf life and is not recommended to use in home baking.

Active Dry Yeast

Active dry yeast is the most common type of yeast used in home baking. It has a longer shelf life compared to baker’s yeast, and it is easily available in most supermarkets.

Instant Yeast

Instant yeast is a more advanced type of yeast that is finer and grinds more evenly. It is also called rapid-rise yeast as it reduces the fermentation time by up to 50%.


Baking yeast is an essential ingredient in the baking industry that has been in use for over 5000 years. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Egyptian civilization, and its evolution has been significant over the years. Today, there are many types of baking yeast available in the market, each with unique characteristics. Understanding the origins and types of baking yeast can help you choose the best yeast for your baking needs.


  • Q: Is yeast used in other industries besides baking?

    A: Yes, yeast is used in other industries like brewing, wine-making, and biofuels production.
  • Q: Can I make my baking yeast at home?

    A: Yes, you can create natural yeast at home by fermenting flour and water, known as sourdough starters.
  • Q: Is yeast a vegetarian or vegan product?

    A: Yes, yeast is vegetarian and vegan-friendly as it is a type of fungi.
  • Q: Can I substitute active dry yeast with instant yeast?

    A: Yes, you can substitute instant yeast for active dry yeast, but you need to use a smaller amount.


  • Poulain, J. P. (2002). Bread and yeast: a cultural and culinary history. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 76(1), 169-170.
  • Salmerón, I., & Gómez, R. (2016). Yeast: the soul of bread, beer, and wine. Microbial Biotechnology, 9(6), 665-678.

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