Many of the city’s top bakeries have kept their doors open through the novel coronavirus pandemic by delivering freshly baked bread and pastries. Due to a rise in home cooking, though, several have also started to deliver the bubbly yeast cultures behind their popular sourdough loaves.
In pre-COVID-19 times, sourdough starters were commonly handed down in glass mason jars from friends and family members — or from a neighborhood baker who didn’t mind scraping a few ounces off the top of their leaven. But in the more than two months since NYC has been on lockdown, the visibility of homemade sourdough bread on social media has seen a meteoric rise. While a perfect loaf of bread can only come with practice, these sourdough starters — many of which are free and some of which are as old as eight years — are certainly a good start.
Below, find a list of just a few neighborhood restaurants and bakeries selling housemade sourdough starter by the ounce, cup, and jar, listed in alphabetical order.
Bien Cuit: New York’s James Beard award-nominated bakery Bien Cuit has pivoted to pantry delivery during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The new delivery service, called Borough Provisions, delivers crusty sourdough bread, pantry staples, and, more recently, containers of the bakery’s eight-year-old sourdough starter. Chef Zachary Golper says the starter, named Quinto, is the same one used to make Bien Cuit’s popular miche loaves. Containers of the starter are available in $30 containers and as part of $130 sourdough making kit, which also includes a bench scraper, bread basket, and two-pound bag of flour.
The Four Horsemen: This natural wine destination in Williamsburg sold out of sourdough starter shortly after launching its new online store, called Next Door Space, earlier this month. Due to demand, though — and with another rise cycle under their belts — the Four Horsemen team is back with two-ounce jars of starter ($4), available for delivery along with bags of white, wheat, and rye flour.
June Wine Bar: Up to 30 grams of sourdough starter can be added onto any delivery order from June Wine Bar for free. The Cobble Hill natural wine spot also has a $12 sourdough starter pack, which includes three pounds of hard-to-find flours like King Arthur.
L’imprimerie: Housed inside a former Bushwick print shop, banker-turned-baker Gus Reckel has spent the last five years perfecting the hearty and funky loaves served at L’imprimerie. The French baker’s sought-after sourdough starter — which is also folded into its many varieties of baguette — is available for free pick-up at the store, where Reckel also sells stone-ground flour and his own loaves of bread.
Ole & Steen: Manhattan bakery Ole and Steen has temporarily shuttered all but one of its three NYC locations due to the novel coronavirus shutdown. The bakery’s remaining open location, on Broadway near Union Square, is delivering enough bread for all three, though, and a large selection of rye breads, seeded rye rolls, and the shop’s signature skagen loaf are all available for delivery. Sample the bakery’s bread, and if desired, tack on a $2.50 container of Ole and Steen’s housemade starter.
Partybus Bakeshop: This Lower East Side bakery is the work of Jacqueline Eng, a former freelance percussionist who had stints kneading bread at Arcade Bakery and Petee’s Pies before becoming head baker for the Altamarea Group. Eng struck out on her own last year with Partybus, a well-liked bakeshop where the croissants are good and the cookies are apparently even better. A cup of the bakeshop’s “baby mama” is available for $5 through Caviar.
Simple Loaf Bakery: Simple Loaf, from baker Shari Call, has been in the neighborhood for less than a year but has already become popular among locals looking for cinnamon sugar buns and airy sourdough loaves. The bakery, available for takeout only, lets customers add a “little piece of sourdough starter” to orders for free, while half ounces of commercial yeast are also available for $2.