Who Needs Yeast?

sourdough bread starter

It seems everyone wants to try their hand at making bread while we’re all stuck at home during the pandemic. But just go to the grocery store and try to find yeast: It’s almost as scarce as toilet paper. Inspired by that shortage, two local food professionals teamed up to create The Great Sour Starter Giveaway. For the past three weeks, Kurt Spataro, executive chef for the Paragary restaurants, and Teresa Urkofsky, a baking instructor at American River College, have been handing out free containers of sourdough starter to members of the public. The weekly giveaway is announced on the group’s Facebook page and takes place at local restaurant parking lots and other public places. “Whoever shows up, we have starter,” says Urkofsky.

Teresa Urkofsky

Made with organic flour and water, the starter contains wild yeast, so it can be used instead of commercial yeast to bake bread. It comes in a little plastic container with a label printed with a QR code that takes you to the giveaway’s Facebook page, where you’ll find information on how to use the starter, along with recipes and photos of breads made with the starter. There’s also a video in which Urkofsky explains how to maintain and feed the starter so you never run out of yeast.

For information about the next giveaway, go to the group’s Facebook page or to Spataro’s Instagram (@kurtspataro).