Bernard Michael Tostanowski III

Sour Culture, Circa 1847 Oregon Trail

In Breads on August 4, 2009 at 2:00 PM

How cool is this? I saw a post on this sourdough a few weeks ago and immediately decided I wanted to try it. I sent one dollar, along with my address, and promptly got back what you see in the picture. And that’s dried sourdough starter, from Oregon. It was first started by a man named Carl Griffith, in 1847. Friends of his and descendants are still caring for this tender little sourdough today. Some people volunteer to share the joy, and send out dried pieces of starter all over the world.

While I love culturing my own sour starter and experimenting with different ratios of wheat, rye and semolina flours but I found this to be a fun experiment. I love the idea of caring for a little jar of bubbling goo that if not fed and taken care of properly can die, strikingly similar to human babies. Just imagine… a sourdough culture dating back over 160 years!

It seems strange that a sour culture can survive such extreme conditions during transport. But all it takes to keep this precious little baby dormant is some bread flour and a set of hands to crumble a blob of sourdough into tiny little pieces of stiff dough. When you receive the culture in the mail, it also includes directions on how to revive the culture and make your own sourdough. If you don’t feel like doing it yourself, feel free to visit the site and read all about Carl Griffith’s Starter. If you click on the Photos and Illustrations link you can see many variations of bread using this same culture from all over the globe.

Here is a picture of the revived starter before being fed on Day 4. Stay tuned! My very own Semolina Sourdough has just a few more hours of retarding before it gets baked.

  1. Wow! Very nice. It’s amazing that you can eat bread that has a little bit of 1847 in it. It’s like eating bread at the time of Cher’s birth. Keep up the good posts, I’m subscribing right away!

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