Does Yeast Go Bad? How Long Does Yeast Last?

Yeast may not be like vegetables that get soft and smelly after a few days, but it is still an important ingredient in many recipes. You might have bought a package of yeast to try your hand at more complicated baking, or you might have just forgotten about that package of yeast shoved to the back of your fridge from months ago. Has it gone bad?

Quick Answer

If you keep your dry yeast from the store unopened, it can last for up to two years when stored correctly. Keep it in a cool, dry place like a pantry and protect it from heat sources. Fresh yeast will last for about two to three weeks in the fridge, as it is a living organism. Always keep your yeast in a container that seals completely to avoid airflow.


Yeast is a unique ingredient in baking. It causes your bread to rise and get that soft, airy middle that everyone loves! However, this also means that extra care must be taken to keep your yeast in good condition. For the tastiest and softest baking products, make sure that your yeast is not spoiled by following these steps to store it correctly.

Does Yeast Go Bad? How Long Does Yeast Last?

Yeast is a form of single celled fungi. It speeds up the fermentation process to get your bread nice and fluffy. As it is a food item, it will eventually go bad. Keeping your yeast in the right storage conditions will lengthen its shelf life.

How Long Does Yeast Last Outside

Yeast is not ever meant to be stored outside. In fact, storing yeast outside puts it in the complete opposite conditions that it needs to stay good.

Yeast does not like to be stored in direct sunlight or heat. Instead, it prefers a climate-controlled, inside environment. If you keep either dry or fresh yeast outside, it will lose its effectiveness and become unusable.

How Long Does Yeast Last in the Fridge

If you have purchased a container of dry yeast from the store, you will not have to keep it in the fridge. As long as it is somewhere cool and dry, and remains unopened, your yeast will last for a long time on its own. Once it is opened, you can keep your dry yeast in the fridge for 4-6 months.

If you have purchased fresh yeast, however, you will need to refrigerate it to keep it fresh. The cold will slow down the processes of the fungi in the yeast to keep it from going bad.

Keep fresh yeast in your fridge gives it the longest shelf life possible. You can expect your fresh yeast to last in your fridge for 2 or 3 weeks.

How Long Does Yeast Last in the Freezer

You can freeze your yeast to preserve it for a longer period of time if you so desire. Yeast in the freezer stays good for a noticeably longer time than yeast stored elsewhere.

You can even keep opened yeast in the freezer to extend its shelf life. Opened dry yeast can be kept in the freezer for about 6 months.

You should not keep fresh yeast in the freezer, as this will make it unusable in recipes. Keep fresh yeast in the fridge.

When you store your yeast, always make sure that you are using an airtight, sealed container. Yeast reacts to whatever is available, including fresh air. By preserving your yeast in a sealed vessel, you will prevent it from going bad before it is time to bake!

How To Tell If Yeast Has Gone Bad

Yeast is very similar to other powders used in baking, such as baking soda and flour. When yeast starts to go bad, it will show many of the symptoms that these other substances do as well to indicate their spoiling.

Clumping: In the case of dry yeast, you can look for clumps to indicate rancid yeast. Moisture will cause your yeast to stick together and form lumps in the substance. If you see a clump, it is a good indicator that your yeast is going bad.

Color: Yeast will also change its color when it goes bad. Yeast should be a light gray color. If you notice it darkening and turning brown, it is time to throw it out. Look for spots that are a different color from the rest of the yeast; these indicate spoiling as well.

Texture: Your yeast needs to be soft and uniform throughout. A small amount of moisture is naturally present in yeast, but if too much moisture is present, it will spoil. Check your yeast for hard spots. Hard yeast is yeast that has gone bad.

Smell: By giving your yeast a quick sniff test, you can check if it has gone bad. Rancid yeast produces unpleasant odors. Your yeast should not smell bad.

How to Store Yeast?

Keeping your yeast fresh is nice and easy if you follow these tips! Yeast is not too difficult to keep fresh, but you should always be conscious of the conditions that you keep your yeast in. Check your yeast every now and then to make sure that it has not started going rancid.

Keep it cool: Yeast will go bad very quickly if you expose it to heat. Whether you are storing it in the fridge or the pantry, make sure that the area is nice and cool to keep your yeast staying fresh.

Minimize exposure: Do not allow any airflow on your yeast. Moisture in the air can cause clumping, or it may dry out your yeast if the air is too dry. Always make sure your yeast is completely sealed in an airtight container when you put it into storage.

Keep track of when you open your yeast: Once the package containing your yeast has opened, you have a certain amount of time to use it before it goes bad. Write down the date you opened your yeast on the packaging to help you keep track of it.

Can You Freeze Yeast? How?

Your dry yeast can be stored in the freezer, but it should not be frozen like other foods. Fresh yeast should not be placed in the freezer, as this will ruin it. If you are storing your dry yeast in the freezer, just keep it in a sealed container with minimal air.

Frequently Asked Questions About Yeast’s Shelf Life


Does yeast pose a health risk when it goes bad?

It is not a good idea to use bad yeast for a number of reasons. Usually, yeast that has just expired will not cause any kind of health problems. Expired yeast will not make your bread rise, however. Of course, when yeast goes rancid, it can certainly be a health risk to whoever eats it. By keeping your yeast correctly stored, you can avoid these problems altogether.

How do you test yeast’s effectiveness?

If you are unsure about how effective your yeast will be, you can perform a simple test to see if it is still good. First, you should check for any of the indicators above that your yeast has gone bad. If you do not see any warning signs, you can go ahead with the test. Take a packet of dry yeast and mix it into a ¼ cup of warm water (no hotter than 130 degrees Fahrenheit). Once you have thoroughly mixed the two ingredients together, check on your mixture again in ten minutes. If the mixture has reached the ½ cup mark through expansion, it is still potent enough to make your bread rise.

Wrap Up

Yeast is essential for any baker. The unique nature of this ingredient can confuse some first-time cooks, but with a little practice, you will be able to effectively use yeast in your recipes and keep it fresh when it is not needed. Always remember that heat and moisture are the two biggest enemies of your yeast, so seal yeast in an airtight container that is in a cool space for storage. By following this advice, your yeast will last you much longer than expected!

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