You probably know that yeast is used in both baking bread and brewing beer. But there are also probably a lot of things you don’t know about yeast and how it’s used in food and drink production.
Therefore, you’ll want to check out the following nine brilliant facts.
1. Yeast Has Been Used in Baking and Brewing Since Ancient Times
Yeast has undoubtedly been used in baking bread for centuries. In fact, evidence suggests that yeast was used for bread making in Ancient Egypt, around 2,500 BC. And we know that yeast has been used for fermenting alcoholic drinks like beer and wine for millennia.
2. It Takes a Lot of Yeast Cells to Create the Yeast Used to Produce Food and Drink
Yeast is a single-cell fungus, and it’s not even visible to the naked eye. A single cell of yeast is just three to five microns in diameter.
Just one gram of yeast is made up of twenty billion yeast cells!
3. Most Species of Yeast Reproduce Asexually
Yeast reproduces via a process called asymmetric division, which means it reproduces asexually. Yeast forms small protrusions on one side of a cell. Those buds then grow in size and mature. They eventually detach from the mother cell.
However, in some species of yeast, the mother cell divides into two equal cells. That process is known as fission.
4. Yeast Helps Dough to Rise
You probably already know that yeast is the ingredient used in bread baking that makes the dough rise. But do you know how it works?
Well, the yeast ferments the sugars contained in the flour and releases carbon dioxide. Due to dough being of a stretchy consistency, the carbon dioxide is unable to escape. As the gas expands, the dough rises.
The most common form of yeast used in baking bread is called Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The speed of the fermentation process depends on the other ingredients in the dough. Salts and fats can slow down the fermentation while eggs and sugar can speed it up.
5. Both Wet Yeast and Dry Yeast Can Be Used in Baking
Bakers can use either wet yeast or dry yeast. Wet yeast, which is also known as fresh yeast, comes in small square blocks. It consists of 70% moisture, which means it can perish quickly.
Dry yeast is available in two forms: active dry yeast and instant yeast. The main difference between the two types of yeast is the size of the granules. Active dry yeast has larger granules than instant yeast. Also, active dry yeast needs to be dissolved in water before it’s used while instant yeast doesn’t.
6. Yeast Aids in the Creation of Beer
Yeast is essential for brewing beer. It works by fermenting the sugar in beer to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol.
Various types of yeast can be used in beer brewing. One of the most commonly used is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, which as we have seen, is also commonly used in bread making.
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is mostly used to create ales with foaming tops. Other yeasts, such as Saccharomyces pastorianus, are more commonly used to make lagers. Saccharomyces pastorianus, a bottom-fermenting yeast, helps to give beer a cleaner taste.
Other yeasts are used to create other types of beers.
7. Yeasts Can Be Genetically Modified for Use in Beer Brewing
While several types of yeast are in existence, more forms of yeast can be produced via genetic modification. For example, the Omega Yeast company has recently engineered a strain of genetically modified yeast known as thiolized yeast, which is able to unlock aroma-enhancing thiols in beer to provide potent aromas to craft beer.
Check out this insightful article to learn more about how a blend of thiolized yeast is used to create aromatic and tasty beers.
8. Yeast Is Used in Winemaking Too
Yeast isn’t only used for brewing beer. It’s also used in winemaking. The alcohol contained in wine is formed by the fermentation of the sugars that are present in grape juice. Yeast is naturally present in grapes.
In modern winemaking, Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast is usually added to make sure the fermentation is reliable. To create sparkling wine, further yeast is added to the wine as it is bottled. That secondary fermentation process enables the carbon dioxide to become trapped in the form of bubbles.
9. There Are Lots of Different Types of Yeast
We have touched upon the fact that there are various forms of yeast, but in fact, there are around 1,500 different types of yeast in existence!
You now have some great knowledge about how yeast is used in producing food and drink. So, the next time you eat bread or drink wine or beer, take a moment to appreciate just how crucial yeast has been in creating the bread and beverages you’re consuming.