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Q&A Tuesday: Buying yeast in bulk?

You do a lot of yeast baking. What is the most cost efficient way to get yeast? I find that buying it in the jars gets pricey, but I am nervous that by buying in bulk it will lose its effectiveness. Any suggestions? -Brandy

I highly suggest that you buy yeast in bulk. The last time I price compared, it would cost $20 more to buy yeast by the jar at the grocery store versus in 1-lb. bags at Sam’s Club. And I’m guessing prices have only increased since then.

Since we’ve not found it to be cost-effective to purchase a Sam’s Club membership and we don’t have Costco here, we buy yeast once a year on the get-in-free days at Sam’s Club. It’s currently priced at $4.68 for two pounds–which is enough to last us for a year.

The yeast comes in vacuum-packed bags. These do not need to be refrigerated or frozen, but I go ahead and stick them in the freezer. Once I open the bags, I put the yeast in a ziptop freezer bag and continue to store it in the freezer.

I just use the yeast straight from the freezer in my recipes. For more information, you can read a very detailed tutorial on yeast from King Authur’s Flour.

I’d love to hear from the rest of you: What’s your target price for yeast? Any great suggestions for where to find good deals on yeast other than buying it at a warehouse store?

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105 Comments

  • I also found the best price to be at Sam’s. I have a friend pick it up when she goes since it is the only thing I buy there.

  • Mealr says:

    I always wondered about purchasing it at Costco. I just am hesitant because it does not look like the same active dry yeast that I would typically purchase in the store. I think the vacuum packed cube is throwing me off.

  • Wendy says:

    I buy SAF instant yeast in 1 lb bags on Amazon (because no stores in my area carry it- some specialty kitchen and baking stores do in some cities, though), and like Crystal, store it in the freezer in a ziploc bag. It’s the best yeast, and buying it in bulk is a much better value than buying it in the grocery store.

  • Kim says:

    We get ours at Costco and keep it in the freezer. I’m sure that anyone you know with a Costco membership would p/u some for you if you don’t have a membership. Also look for other restaurant supply stores in nearby large towns. A $4 package should last you an entire year. This is the best deal I find at Costco (and the produce and dairy)

  • We have homemade pizza once a week and have found that aldi’s has a great price on yeast.

  • Lana says:

    You can go to Sam’s website and print a one day pass. You can use the pass every 90 days. You do pay an upcharge but it will still be cheaper. If you live in SC you will not pay an upcharge because it is against state law. I have always used the yeast from Sam’s and it has always kept well until I use it up. It should actually be stored in the refrigerator instead of the freezer.

  • My daughter has been buying the yeast in bulk at Sam’s as she lives in the mountains of Colorado. She has had some last more than a year and keeps it in the freezer until ready to use. Then she puts in Tupperware in the frig. She bakes a loaf of bread about every other day. So, when we went to Sam’s the day after Thanksgiving I took note and bought the 2 – 1lb bags at $4.88. I bake a loaf of white and one of cinnamon raisin each week during the winter months. What a significant savings from buying by the jar.

  • The past few years Kroger has had seasonal baking Catalina deals for Fleischman’s yeast that has resulted in free yeast during the holidays (after the Catalina). Plus, there are Fleischman’s coupons available this time of year, so I’ve always stocked up on yeast this time of year when I can get it for better-than-free.

    We went gluten-free in January, so I don’t check out the deals on yeast anymore. But I’d highly recommend checking out what Catalina deals are out there this year before you buy your year’s supply.

    • beingjennifer says:

      You can still use yeast in gluten-free bread recipes. Check out the “Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day” book from the people who did the Artisan Bread book. Fabulous stuff!!

    • I’m gluten free and I still use yeast quite often! It can be done. 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Myself and our 4 kids are gluten free and the only way they can eat bread is if I bake it and we use the Red Star Yeast that I buy on Amazon or in bulk from out local co-op. FYI the only way my kid can eat bread is if I bake it because I would not be able to afford the GF breads in stores plus my kids don’t really like those breads. I bake about 4 loaves a week. It only takes one lunch of pb and j to finish off a loaf of bread for us. That only equates to about 2 sandwiches/child then if they are still hungry, they will have fruit or veggies or some other left over from the refrigerator.

    • Jaimie says:

      Anne:

      Our family is also g free (DD has Celiac), so we just made an incredible Thanksgiving feast for 15, complete with both traditional stuffing and to-die-for dinner rolls. It is totally do-able, and Jules Gluten Free has the best-ever g free baking recipes. Check out here Thanksgiving (or Christmas dinner) recipes here: http://blog.julesglutenfree.com/2011/11/crash-course-for-a-gluten-free-thanksgiving/

      BTW, we don’t use Jules’ flour due to cost, as we are able to buy 25 lb. bags of Domata Living g free flour blend for $50 at a local Mennonite market. Our results w/ Domata flour and Jules’ recipes are fantastic.

      If you were a bread baker in your pre-g-free days, I encourage you to try some of Jules’ recipes. They are fabulous! My bread-loving dad who isn’t gluten free and is accustomed to fresh, homemade bread-maker wheat bread was over the moon when he tried our dinner rolls. He couldn’t believe they were g free!

  • Lea Stormhammer says:

    I too buy my yeast at Sam’s Club – it is WAY cheaper than the grocery store kind. I just keep my in the cupboard in an air-tight container once it’s opened and have found that since I make on average at least 2 loaves of bread and a batch of pizza dough and breadsticks per week it doesn’t go bad or loose it’s effectiveness. If I did less baking or lived in a hot and damp climate (I live in Minnesota) , I probably would keep it in the freezer too.

    Check the yeast information sites (like the one mentioned). The yeast from Sam’s Club is Instant Dry Yeast NOT Active Dry Yeast, like you can buy in jars or packets in the grocery stores. It is slightly less volatile and you need slightly less than you do for the Active Dry.

    Happy Baking!
    Lea

  • Becky says:

    I make most of our bread, and I used to drive an hour from MD into Lancaster County (Amish Country) to buy yeast, flour, and oats. There are lots of stores that sell things in bulk/by the pound in that area. Since we moved it’s no longer cost effective (although it still a lovely drive), and I just did a trial at BJs so I can stock up–after that, find a Sam’s Club friend I guess!

  • Sonya says:

    The WinCos in my area (SW Washington) carry one-pound vacuum packs of SAF yeast for about $3. So I just buy that and keep it in a tupperware in my fridge once I open it.

    • Emily F says:

      Me too. Works great.

    • Jennifer J says:

      Me too, except I keep it in a mason jar or ziplock in the freezer. I’ve been freezing my yeast for 30 years. It has never gone bad. It just always works. We used to make 6 loaves of ww bread every week. Most of the children are gone now, so it just makes rolls or pizza now and then.

  • Kathie Jones says:

    I get my bulk yeast from BJ’s Wholesale Club or Sam’s Club. I keep most of it in the freezer, but I have a pint jar that I refill that I keep in the fridge. I use this straight in all my baking recipes and never have an issue with problems with the yeast proofing. I make a couple of loaves of bread a week. 🙂

    • Courtney says:

      That’s what I do. Except my jar is a leftover yeast jar. I noted on the lid that 2 1/4 tsp = 1 packet, so I could remember.

  • I do pretty much the same thing. I buy yeast at BJ’s Wholesale Club – I got a 14-month membership last year when I held several large parties at my home and found it economical to join. I keep it in the pantry until I open it, then keep it in the freezer in a sealed plastic bag. I make yeast doughs – pizza dough and challah – twice a week and it took me about a year to go through the first 2 lb of yeast. Once the membership runs out (soon!) it’ll probably be to Sam’s during their free weekends, or pay the extra 10% that non-members are charged at BJ’s.

  • Sara says:

    I buy it at Costco…and keep it in the refrigerator in a jar…which I have been doing for years. It never goes bad before I use it up in about a years time.

  • Andrea says:

    I keep it in the refrigerator. After a year or so, I might use a little more than the recipe suggests.

    • Courtney says:

      Check the expiration date. The yeast I just bought at Costco is actually good through December 2013. I try to buy the yeast around the holidays as there’s more of a turnover than at other times of the year.

      • Andrea says:

        Yeast will still work long after the expiration date if it is stored in the fridge or the freezer. After the package has been opened for a year or more, I add a bit extra, as it doesn’t seem to be as active.

  • Diane says:

    Yes Costco or Sam’s. I keep my in the fridge as well and it is fine now a yr later. I also share with my grandma and mom. I was really glad to share with my grandma when she told me she was paying for the little packets and has very little money.

  • jenny says:

    I buy mine in bulk at the co-op. You can buy large or small amounts, which is nice. I keep it in the freezer and have never had a problem with it.

  • Ashlea says:

    We looked into this and as others have mentioned, Sam’s is the best price. It is instant yeast instead of “active dry” like Fleischman’s at the market. However, there is little difference and the differences are positive. Instant does not need to be proofed. It can be added directly to your recipe without the “proof by mixing in with the warm water” step in many recipes, and you can get by with a bit less. For example, if a recipe calls for 2 t active dry, you can use just 1 1/2 t instant.
    We buy ours from Sam’s as we use them for gas on a weekly basis as well and have seen significant savings. (I also buy meat in bulk as I think it is sometimes easier than waiting for the local market to put theirs on sale.) It comes in two separate 1 lb bags that are vacuum packed. One bag goes on the shelf. The other I pour about 1/3 into a small mason jar to keep in the frig. The rest goes in the freezer. I just re-fill my mason jar as needed. It may work just as well straight from the freezer, but in the interest of getting it to warm up quickly for bread making, I usually use it from the jar in the frig.
    Using the one day pass once a year is a great idea if you don’t have a Sam’s membership. I bake at least twice a week and my last purchase was a little over a year ago. Not bad for $4.68 for 2 lbs of yeast!

  • Chrysa says:

    I buy it from the bulk containers at our local co-op/health food store. That way I can buy as little or as much as I want and I’m always guaranteed that it’s fresh AND cheap.

  • Becky says:

    I’ve never purchased yeast in bulk. Does it have an expiration date? I’d like to make sure I’d use that quantity before it would go bad.

  • Jenn says:

    I keep mine in the fridge as well in a ziptop bag. It took me about 9 months to go through one vacuum-packed bag that I purchased at Sam’s and it still worked great!

  • Susan says:

    Amazon!!

  • Heather says:

    Sam’s gets my vote for best priced yeast! I haven’t found any other seller to beat the deal…and I do a lot of yeast baking!

  • Deana Wood says:

    I get mine on Amazon in bulk bags. I keep it in the freezer & it lasts a long time. I have never had it go bad before I use it all. Just put in a freezer bag , open it long enough to get a couple of tsp out, and put it right back in. I think I paid $4 for enough to last me for months.

  • Leah says:

    The least expensive (and healthiest) option is to make your own sourdough starter! It only takes a little flour, water and a few seconds 2 times a day to keep it going. Here’s a link to a video that talks about the what, how, and why of sourdough, http://gnowfglins.com/2011/04/20/free-video-make-a-sourdough-starter-the-science-of-it/ . You can also search the GNOWFGLINS website for more information. (I’d not affiliated or associated with GNOWFGLINS in any way. Just thankful for their helpful information on healthy eating.)

    • WilliamB says:

      What makes you think that sourdough starter is healthier than yeast?

      • Leah says:

        I don’t just think it, I know it! Sourdough breaks down the phytates in grain making it much more digestible and less irritable to the gut. I’d encourage you to do some research for yourself! I shared a great link with LOTS of information. 🙂

    • Kathie Jones says:

      Sour dough is good, but its not usable or practical for all baking applications that yeast is used in. There is a significant taste and rising difference.
      That said, I love to use my home made sour dough starter. If someone has never tried this they should. Its easy and makes great bread.

  • Alice says:

    I buy my yeast at amazon. We fill up a pint jar and keep that in the fridge, the rest goes in the freezer. I probably could keep it all in the freezer, but then the jar gets really cold to handle. 🙂

    While visiting family in Oregon last week, we went to a bulk food store called Cash and Carry. They had bulk yeast and bulk instant yeast too.

  • I buy mine at an Amish bulk food store! It’s very cheap and I love to support them. I also buy all my flour and seasoning there.

    • Kathie Jones says:

      Lynette are you in the Lancaster area? If so I would love to know what bulk stores you know of. I love to shop in Lancaster (I am about an hour south of Lancaster proper).

      • I live north of Columbus. I have two favorite bulk food stores. The Ashery Country Store in Fredericksburg, Ohio is awesome. It’s not close to me but I’m up that way twice a year anyways to “tour” Amish country. I also shop at the Country Variety Store in Bellefontaine which is closer to where I live. That’s typically where I buy my yeast. I buy my flour out of an Amish family’s home about 10 minutes from where I live. She has a little building outside her home and you can stop by any day but Sunday. I buy my bread flour there. She sells 10 lbs for 4 bucks! She only sells chocolate and flour though so I buy most of my bulk at the Country Variety Store.

        The best way to find one near you is to look for Amish in your area and ask. Many of them buy in bulk and buy from each other as well as sell to the public.

        Oh, and make sure you always have cash on hand! 😉

    • Jaimie says:

      Similarly, I buy in bulk from our Mennonite food store, and it keeps in a small, plastic, upright container in the door of my freezer for YEARS. It seems like last time I bought any, it was something like $0.40/lb. The packets contain 0.75 oz., so you would need about 21 of them to equal a pound.

      Ditto for seasonings. Cost per ounce for all of these are unbelievably cheaper.

  • Grace Hurd says:

    Amazon has a great 4 pk! Since I make bread daily (sometimes more than daily when all the kids are home), I go through it quite quickly. If you are nervous about having four, just find some friends that are looking for a yeast deal 🙂 I am not sure that you can find a better bulk deal for Saf instant. I believe it is about $12 for the four pack (1 lb ea)

  • Miranda says:

    I don’t use a lot of yeast. I’m still using yeast from my grocery shower from over 3 years ago! It hasn’t gone bad yet and I store mine in a container in the fridge.

  • Nancy says:

    I have purchased it at Sam’s for years. I pour enough for at least a month in a zip lock bag and put it in my refrigerator. The rest is stored in the freezer, in the original bags, that I tape shut, and also put in a zip lock bag.
    It will keep indefinitely in the freezer. It is so inexpensive to buy at Sam’s. We do have a membership, because we buy most of our staples (that never seem to go on sale) at Sam’s and also buy paper products and office supplies there.

  • Ellen says:

    I buy all of my yeast at Costco and I bake all of our bread— using the Artisan Bread in 5 Mins a Day technique. (Crystal, can’t wait to hear about your experience with it!) We go through a LOT of yeast, but one large $4 pack at Costco lasts just over a year. It’s a phenomenal value.

  • Tricia says:

    SAF is the best! We are lucky to have a local grocery store that specializes in bulk foods. (Go Maceys!) I watch for sales and try to get it for $2.50 (1 lb.). The freezer trick is spot on. Yeast can store for years in the freezer. You can also try beprepared.com they often have they same stuff on sale (it’s at $4 right now).

  • Becky says:

    I also buy yeast in bulk. I’ve always gotten it at Sam’s – since we’ve had a membership forever. We recently gave up our Sam’s membership for a Costco membership, but I haven’t needed to buy yeast there yet. I store the unopened packages in my baking cabinet and the opened packages get dumped into a tupperware that stays in our fridge door.

    2 pounds of yeast last us about a year – I bake all of our bread and rolls – about 1-2 loaves a week. It’s much more cost effective than the little packages. One package is about 2 1/4 tsp so if a recipe calls for a packet, you have to do a little math, but well worth it in my opinion!

  • amy says:

    GFS (Gordon Food Service) is also a great place to buy bulk yeast.
    No membership needed.

  • KimH says:

    I just bought a 2# bag of Red Star active yeast today. It cost $4.29 @ Costco.
    I have been printing coupons for Fleshmanns to stock up at my regular grocery store and almost didnt look at the price, but decided to look anyways, and boy am I glad I did. Even with coupons that double, there is no way I could have gotten anywhere close to that price for that amount.
    I’ll put some in a glass jar in my frig and put the rest in a canning jar & seal it with my Food Saver, like someone else already mentioned.

    I’ve always kept mine in the freezer and it lasts a good long time after the “use by” date. It does diminish its efficacy after a while but its still usable. But honestly, at a price that inexpensive, its just as easy to go buy more.
    That 2# cost about the same a 4 oz jar at the grocery store.

    • Emily says:

      I usually use the jarred Fleischmann’s highly active yeast. Do you know what the equivalent is of the Red Star active? I thought I had to proof that kind from reading the package and I am used to not having to. Thanks in advance!

  • becca says:

    I bought the large package at Costco when I was baking all of our bread. Now that I have two babies, it isn’t really worth my time when I can get an organic loaf at Kroger marked down to $1.59 with the same ingredients I use. But, I still have my giant package of yeast and I still use it for other things. I’ve had it for about 2 years now. I keep the big package in the freezer and I have a small yeast jar (from when I used to buy in the jar) that I store in the fridge. I just refill the jar when I need more yeast. It’s worked great this way. I’ve tried the artisan bread technique and it didn’t work for me. I want to try again though. I do miss the smell of baking bread.

  • Angela says:

    If you live in an area where they deliver, AzureStandard carries it. $9.40 for 2 lbs. Or split a 5 lb bag with a friend and it drops to $4 a lb (% lbs for $20).

    I keep it in the freezer in a glass jar and transfer some to the fridge as my jar in the fridge gets low. Never had any problems.

  • amelia says:

    I go to Earthfare or Whole Foods but I believe most health foods carry baking yeast in bulk. You have to ask where it is as it is usually in an odd place in the refrigerated section. I paid around $5/lb for the smallest container they had.

  • ashley says:

    I buy mine in bulk from an Amish store, where I also buy my oats and other baking supplies. Last time I bought it, it was $4.90 for 2 pounds.

  • Barb says:

    I was skeptical at first but have found that the yeast sold in bulk at Winco supermarkets high quality and value. I keep mine in a sealed tupperware container in the fridge and I buy 10 ounces which lasts one year. I have to say I do not even remember how much it cost.

  • Emily says:

    I usually use the jarred Fleischmann’s highly active yeast. Do you know what the equivalent is of the Red Star active from Costco? I thought I had to proof that kind from reading the package and I am used to not having to. Thanks in advance!

  • Megan says:

    Quick question – I usually make bread in my bread maker and always use “bread machine yeast” can I substitute regular yeast?

  • Jettsmom says:

    I purchased yeast from Sam’s Club years ago. The expiration date on the two packages was 2006. I opened the first one and kept it in a zipper bag in the refrigerator. The other package I put in the freezer. I finished the first package about a month ago and just recently opened the one from the freezer, again storing in a zipper bag in the fridge. It works fine. Properly stored, it will last a long time. Again, these were to expire in 2006.

  • Holly says:

    We get ours at Bob’s Red Mill – the big red barn store. I just pour it into a glass jar and store in the the refrigerator.

  • Laura says:

    I had bought some yeast from Sam’s Club several years ago and use it just once in awhile. Recently I thought maybe I ought to replace it, I check the date and it said it expired in 2004, but it was still working fine! It was kept in the refrigerator.

  • Betsy says:

    So I bought some yeast in bulk at Sam’s but haven’t been diligent to make bread. I’d love a great recipe for a loaf of bread to help me use that yeast in the freezer! 🙂

  • Jennifer Morbeto says:

    We buy our yeast from Azure Standard in bulk. It is Red Star Yeast. I think it is a good deal for 2lbs of yeast. I store it in the freezer.

  • Amanda F says:

    I purchase my yeast either from Azure Standard or Frontier Co-Op. I store it in the freezer in mason jars and use honey to make sure it is still nice and active!

  • Brighid says:

    I’m another Costco yeast buying person. At this time of year, I’ve nearly gone through a Costco-sized bag of King Arthur flour, a similarly large container of honey and need to go get some more nuts for baking and homemade granola. But… where can I get a good price on white whole wheat flour? Our Costco doesn’t carry any kind of whole wheat flour. And our budget doesn’t allow for a grain mill so grinding my own is not a choice at this point in time. I hope someone has a good suggestion! I live in the northeast so Amish markets aren’t really a choice.

    • Emily says:

      Your Costco sells King Arthur flour? I’m jealous! I just bought a 50 lb bag of bread flour there the other week. Are you talking about a whole wheat flour?

  • Mary Beth Patnaude says:

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I have been baking a lot of bread lately, so I have been using a lot of yeast- which costs a lot at the grocery store! I am going to tag some onto my Amazon Christmas order…and get free shipping!

  • Ruth says:

    It honestly depends on how much you bake bread. We make bread a couple of times a week, plus pizza twice a month and the 1 lb yeast from Sam’s lasted us almost 4 months. We store the packages in the freezer and then after we open one, it goes in the fridge. So we will go through 2 lbs of yeast in under 8 months.

  • Rachael says:

    I also buy my yeast at Sam’s. Incidently, I noticed that our Sam’s Club is now carrying 25 lb. bags of flour for around $7. This what I’ve been paying at Wal-mart for 10 lbs. For a lot of staples and baking supplies, they are so much cheaper than the regular grocery store.

  • Amie says:

    We also use Sam’s yeast. I have a membership, but once I drop it, I’ll just drop in with my mom when she comes to town as she has a membership.

  • Amy says:

    I buy it in bulk from Costco. It lasts over a year and I just store it in the refrigerator without any problems. Just make sure if you are transferring it to another container it is one that will keep it from being exposed to light.

  • HEATHER says:

    I stock up on Yeast, Beans, spices, vinegars, oils, flours, sugars at an Amish Store in central PA when I go home for the holidays. They have this old school walk in “cold” room where they keep cheeses, meats, yogurts and fresh veggies and fruits. It sure beats the hustle and bustle of a grocery store in the city!! No debit or credit cards, and definitely no coupons!!

  • Paula Laird says:

    I buy 1 lb cubes of Fleischman’s Instant Yeast at HEB for just over $3. Not as cheap as Sam’s apparently, but I don’t have to go anywhere special. One lasts me probably 6 months. I hadn’t thought of keeping it in the fridge or freezer. I’m going to try that!

  • Rebecca says:

    This is kinda off subject but I also buy bread flour at Sams. I find it’s way cheaper that way than at my local grocery store. Does any one else have ideas to get cheaper bread flour? I buy my yeast in bulk at Sams, also.

  • Rachel says:

    Yup, I got the bulk yeast from Sam’s on one of their get in free days 2 years ago- haven’t had to buy yeast since then! I keep it stored in the fridge in a tight fitting container (pyrex glass tubberware) once opened. The other unopened package I keep in the freezer as is. I’ve not had a problem with it yet! It still works great! Oh and I use it in my bread machine all the time.

  • K Quinn says:

    I buy mine at Costco two. It’s been a while since I had to buy it so I’ve forgotten the price on a 2lb pack but it was around $3 or so. I keep it in the freezer. I used to keep small jar of it in the fridge and the rest in the freezer but for the last 3 years I keep the whole thing in the freezer and use it from there.

  • Donna says:

    Girls- Can you use coupons at Sam’s???

  • Rachelle says:

    Your yeast will last longer if you store it in a dark-colored container in the fridge or freezer rather than a clear bag.

    I use a Costco or Sam’s pack of yeast in an old, plastic coffee can, and I usually split it up between family members (who don’t have a membership) so I can buy it more often and share the blessing of a good price. Even giving most of it away, it’s a huge savings to buy that way!

  • Brandi T says:

    Crystal–
    I don’t remember if you’ve blogged about this before–I’ve been a reader since Biblical Womanhood–but have you posted a list of things that you typically wait to buy until Sam’s get in free day (or Costco, we have one of those too)? If you have, I’d love a link! Or, if you know of another blogger that has posted something similar, I’d be interested. Thank you.

    • Crystal says:

      Mostly just yeast, since I’ve been buying honey through Azure now. There isn’t much else that is less expensive than sale/coupon/bulk prices I pay elsewhere. I know it does vary for different areas, though.

  • Louise says:

    I owned a restaurant for many years and bought the bags at Sam’s. I just kept it in the fridge and it lasted forever, even after the expiration date. Be sure to check the dates when you buy and get one with the best date.

  • Jessie says:

    I also buy this SAF Instant Red yeast at Costco. But I did not think that i had to keep it in freezer.

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