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A moist mass of minute fungi that ferment sugars to form alcohol and carbon dioxide. The word is derived from the Sanskrit 'Yas', which means 'to seethe'.

Understanding the full nature of yeast only really occurred after Louis Pasteur"s discovery in 1857 of the micro-organisms responsible. It eventually became possible to identify and culture pure strains of yeast which gave fast and predictable results for bread- makers.

Of the 160 or so known strains of yeast the one commonly used for baker"s yeast is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, an unicellular swiftly-multiplying fungus, that becomes active at around 78

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