sourdough starter

Sourdough bread starter is all the rage in kitchens across Canada right now

If you've been keeping abreast of what your friends and family are getting up to during COVID-19-imposed social isolation, you will have noticed that many are trying out new hobbies to pass the time.

A lot of Canadians are turning to in-home fitness to stay healthy and maintain some sort of routine, while others are reading or crafting more.

Some are also taking up cooking, which can serve as a great source of stress relief — and in particular, for whatever reason, baking bread.

Yes, dough as therapy is currently all the rage in Canada, with fluffy loaves taking over all of our social media feeds as some of us inch closer to becoming fluffy loaves ourselves.

The interest in sourdough bread, specifically, has spiked, with more and more people searching online for sourdough starter.

One Canadian coffee shop and bakery, Vancouver's Nelson the Seagull, has actually started selling the starter that it uses for its own famous sourdough bread so customers can make their own version at home during quarantine.

The initiative started with a one-time inquiry from a law solutions company called Clio, which wanted to supply its international team of 500 employees with their own kits to make bread.

Nelson the Seagull sent along packages that included its proprietary 9-year-old sourdough starter, as well as an instruction manual and a bag of flour to feed the culture.

The cafe also filmed a private sourdough class that the Clio staff can watch over Zoom, and has provided recipes elsewhere online.

Nelson the Seagull co-owner Evelyn Neves thinks that there are is a slew of reasons people are turning to breadmaking during this difficult time.

"Our first thought is that it must have been something a lot of people have always wanted to try and now they have the time to try it," Neves says. "Bread is a humble product that has held a place on the table in almost all of our lives, no matter who we are or what culture we come from."

She also thinks that the need for the starter to be "fed" daily may even offer some people a sense of structure, as well as a feeling of being prepared amid a pandemic.

"Perhaps in this time where people are living somewhat unscheduled yet limited lives, they are finding a calm in knowing they have something to check on and a task to accomplish," she says

Neves adds that sourdough is simple enough for just about anyone to try their hand at, requiring only three ingredients and a bit of time to sit and wait — something many Canadians have a lot of right now.

Though the shop isn't offering its special starter to the general public just yet, it is still selling its bread and other baked good, and looking forward to partnerships with other groups — it is already in touch with a few businesses looking to make mass purchases of the kits.

There are also tons of guides on how to make starter itself online for anyone looking to join the new club of quarantine boulangers.

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