1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter from Carl Griffith

Clearly this sat awhile before I reconstituted the sourdough starter.
November 14, 2011 it came.  I had read about a sourdough starter and sent off for it.  It arrived and has sat in the envelope on my counter at the end against the tile until I resurrected it per Carl's directions 3 evenings ago.  He has a brochure available on line telling the historic nature of the starter and how to use it.  is the link to the information as Carl passed away in late 2000 and a group of his loving friends continue his tradition of giving away at no charge with directions for reviving and using the starter at no charge.

Summary of the History:

It is given is that it started west in 1847 from Missouri.  Presumably with the family of Dr. John Savage's daughter, one of Carl's great grandmothers.  It came west and settled with them near Salem, Or.  Doc Savage's daughter met and married Carl's great grandfather on the trail and they had 10 children.  The tale and the starter have been passed parent to child since then.  Carl learned to use the starter in a basque sheep camp when he was 10 when they were setting up a homestead on the Steens Mountains in southeastern Oregon.  The bread was baked in dutch ovens on an open campfire.  People at that time had no commercial starter for their bread so it has been exposed to may wild yeasts for our enjoyment.

A more complete history can be found given at the link given above.

Through the years I have had several sourdough starters and enjoyed them very much.  All had been purchased commercially.  I am truly excited about this as when I reconstituted it as directed it has the most pleasing sour aroma of any I have ever used.  Perhaps because of all of the natural wild yeast?  At any rate it came together perfectly as directed.

The starter came dried and in a small zip lock bag.  To reactivate you dissolve the dried starter in 3/4 cup  warm water (90 degrees) and add 3/4 cup white bread flour and 1 teaspoon of sugar in a glass or plastic container, NOT METAL.  Also you want to be sure to use a filtered water of some sort without the chemicals of treated tap water.

Place the bowl, covered with a damp towel in a warm place (About 85 degrees F. like the oven with the light or pilot light on.) for up to 48 hours.  It will get bubbly from the fermentation because it has come to life!

Next mix 1 cup warm (95 degree F) water, add 1 cup of flour, and 1 tablespoon of dried potatoes or use potato water instead of the dry potato flakes. NOTE:  I made Brian mashed potatoes last night for supper so I poured the water off of the potatoes and into a glass measuring cup and left it to cool and used for this step.  Again cover and let sit in a warm place until bubbly again.  (I left covered sitting on the counter until this morning.)

Next I stirred well and stored in a one quart mason jar in the refrigerator until I am ready to use.  It Is natural to become somewhat lumpy and for a liquid to form on top.

I love the prospect of it's history, I love what I have read of Carl Griffith, and the starter has pleased me very much!  Stay tuned for sourdough bread and recipes!

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