Quarantine kitchen swaps: What to substitute for yeast

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Americans are baking up a storm as the coronavirus pandemic continues, and emptier supermarket shelves have thrown a curveball at home chefs. Bread baking, in particular, has risen as a popular pastime, pushing dry active yeast into high demand — and short supply.

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Year-over-year sales of yeast surged by an astonishing 410 percent during the four-week period ending April 11, Adweek reports, citing Nielsen data. The month-long span began almost immediately after the global COVID-19 outbreak was declared a national emergency, and people’s bread-baking aspirations apparently came to fruition while sticking closer to home for the first time.

You don’t need yeast to bake away your boredom and create delicious breads, one expert said.

You don’t need yeast to bake away your boredom and create delicious breads, one expert said. (iStock)

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Despite these pure intentions, dry yeast is flying off grocery store shelves and remains hard to come by. Fortunately, you don’t need yeast to bake away your boredom and create delicious breads, Rebekah Ziesmer, Development Chef at Conagra Brands, told Fox News.

Ziesmer is a development chef on the innovative culinary team at Conagra, and previously served as a sous-chef for one of Chicago’s top chefs. In her current role, she also works on recipe and product development, while managing the test kitchen.

That being said, Ziesmer offered a shockingly simple swap for yeast when there’s none to be found: baking soda. But you can't use it in just any recipe, she said.

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“If I don’t have yeast, I like to stick to quick breads that use baking powder instead of yeast.  My favorites are beer bread and peanut butter bread!” she told Fox News. “Or if you are feeling super ambitious and have at least five days, you can make your own sourdough starter, which will produce its own natural yeast.”

Feeling up to the challenge? Check out these tips for peanut butter bread and “quick breads” like biscuits, Irish soda bread and tortillas, with no yeast required.