I handle yeast once a week when I bake bread. I bake a batch of loaves and put them in the deep freezer. I’ve been doing this for years. The yeast that I use is the dry granulated variety. This is the type that needs to be added to warm water that has sugar dissolved in it.
Just recently I got hold of a batch of granular yeast that didn’t perform properly. The culture didn’t froth up as normal. My experience told me, there was something wrong.
What I had here was a batch of duff yeast. This has never happened before. I now have a load of granular yeast that I need to get rid of. This poses the question: Can you put yeast in a compost pile?
I had four small tins of duff granular yeast. I tried a small amount in a test to see if there was any hope of being able to use it. I didn’t want to throw it out without giving it a chance.
The test didn’t look good. It wasn’t going to be worth taking a chance with all the other ingredients that need to be put together and then find that it all had to be thrown out. This has happened before and it sucks.
So, I had this yeast that I couldn’t use. The obvious thing, for me, to do was to feed it to the Rolypig composter but I had no idea what would happen and how it would affect the compost. This was a first.
You can put yeast in a compost pile
Putting yeast in compost
Making compost using the Rolypig is much the same as any compost pile, except that there is the advantage of being able to feed in fresh waste at one end and take out compost at the other. You can give it an occasional roll (and pull his head upright) and it sits on the ground which allows worms to easily get in.
I couldn’t see any reason why the Rolypig couldn’t eat yeast. So, in it went. I didn’t think any more about it for a couple of weeks. I made regular visits to feed fresh waste. Then I noticed that it became unusually easy to feed fresh waste in. Usually, feeding the Rolypig involves pushing the fresh waste in with short stick, just to help it in. When this becomes difficult to do I roll him over, just half a turn, and then the waste will go in much easier.
After feeding in the yeast and allowing for a couple of weeks to go by, I noticed that fresh waste was disappearing into his mouth much more easily and I wasn’t having to help it along with a stick.
The volume of material inside the ‘mouth-end’ of the Rolypig appeared to have shrunk away. The only explanation that I have for this is that the dose of yeast had accelerated the composting process and that the resident worms liked what was being generated. It remains to be seen if the performance, that the yeast appears to have started, continues or if it will be necessary to make further doses to continue the effect.
So, the answer to the question: can you put yeast in a compost pile? I can say that it hasn’t done any harm to the Rolypig. It’s unlikely to do any harm to a compost pile, heap or bin.
About yeast in compost
Yeast and compost appear to go together
What will yeast do in compost?
Yeast is a fungus. Just like all the other forms of fungi that form mould colourings on waste-food in compost, yeast will do the same but in its own way.
Yeast feeds on sugars. The sugars in a compost pile will be made up of basic starch compounds that are in the mixture of waste food that’s thrown out. The yeast will break down any sugars that it can find and release carbon dioxide. This is nothing to panic about, it’s just a small part of the massive carbon cycle that’s been happening since fungi and sugar first came into existence.
My own experience of allowing yeast to find its way into compost has been positive. Fungi, of any kind, plays a big part in the early stages of composting and having a dose of yeast in the mix can only help with the process.
Dough will disappear in compost
Can you compost dough?
If you’ve attempted to make bread or anything that involves dough, you may, from time to time, encounter the odd disaster. We’ve all been there. These embarrassments can be hidden in the compost pile. It will behave in much the same way as baked bread. It will go mouldy, the yeast factor will come into play and help with the degeneration. It will decompose with the rest of the compost.
Looking around to see the experiences of others, I’ve found a few thoughts and ideas that cover the subject of yeast.
Any type of yeast can go in compost
There’s fresh yeast and dried yeast
There are two types of yeast for baking. There’s dried yeast and there’s fresh yeast. Fresh yeast is available in a block and is sometimes referred to as ‘block yeast’. It resembles cheese. It needs to be moist, soft and crumbly. If it’s, hard and cracking, then it will be no good for baking as it won’t produce enough of a culture. This can go in the compost pile and, possibly, do some good in.
The dried yeast gives us more options. It’s much more convenient to use. It has a shelf life which dictates a cut-off point when you need to think about discarding it. It can go in the compost pile. It won’t adversely affect the composting process, you may find that it will help.
What is the best way to store yeast?
Dried yeast granules are easier to store than the fresh yeast. The general advice from others is to store dried yeast granules in the fridge or freezer after you’ve opened and used part of the container.
If you make bread or yeast-baked products regularly, this won’t be necessary. I bake bread every week. There’s never been a problem with putting an opened container of dried yeast granules in a cupboard. One container will last me for three weeks of baking. My procedures of handling dried yeast in storage have never let me down.
Fresh yeast is very different. It isn’t dormant as dried granules are. This is best frozen. No one seems to know what length of time fresh yeast can be frozen for. The important point is that it must be well wrapped to avoid dehydration from freezing. Having not used fresh yeast myself, I would suggest getting hold of enough yeast to last 2 or 3 months and use it all in that time frame.
The best way to store fresh yeast in the freezer would be to cut out and weigh, small portions from a block. Each portion to be enough for every baking session. This would be better than trying to grind it away from the frozen block every time you need some yeast.
Is it Ok to use expired yeast?
Expired yeast usually ends up in the compost
Dried yeast that has gone past its expiry date may still have enough life in it to be of use. The only way to find out is to try a small amount and see how it performs. Warm some water in a bowl, stir in some sugar. Calculate the quantities of water and sugar to match a small amount of dried yeast e.g. a teaspoon full. Just do the test and see and see if it froths up as you would expect. If it looks dull and flat, then your compost pile, heap, bin or Rolypig awaits.
Can you freeze dough?
Dough can be frozen very easily. You can freeze it as soon as you’ve formed it. You can freeze dough before it’s risen. Weigh it into the weight of portions that you need and seal it in plastic bags. You need to use it within twelve months or it may start to dry out. If you know that you will be using it tomorrow, take it out tonight and put it in the fridge, for overnight.
It will thaw out enough to be soft but it won’t start rising and get out of control. When taken into warm air it will carry on rising as though it’s never been frozen.
Is it better to freeze dough or baked bread?
My preference is to make the dough and carry it through to the finished bread. Baked bread can be frozen. As with everything else that goes in the freezer, don’t expect to be able to leave it frozen for too long. One month is long enough.
This may be an option if you know that you’re going to be away and you want bread for when you come home. There’s the option of freezing fresh-made dough. This may be a convenient thing to do if you’ve started making dough for a baking-session and a sudden change of plan happens and you can’t take it through to baking as you would like.
How do you activate frozen yeast.
To activate frozen yeast, you must allow time for it to thaw, then crumble it into the measure of warm sugar solution that you need. Then, just wait for a while for the froth to rise, showing that it’s ready to use.