My 200-year old sour-dough starter
I received my starter in 1976 from a friend who got it from her friend George Ashby, who owned the Copper Center Lodge, located on the Copper River in Alaska. I drove to the Lodge from Anchorage and talked with Mr. Ashby, who had bought the Lodge back in 1948. Mr. Ashby told me that he got the starter many years ago from a preacher from San Francisco, who had come to Alaska during the 1898 gold rush. The preacher told Mr. Ashby that the starter was over 145 years old at that time. My best estimate is that my Alaskan starter could be between 200 to 245 years old.
George Ashby died in 1979, but the Lodge is still open and now owned/operated by the 3rd generation of Ashby's. To this day the restaurant features pancakes using the "century-old sourdough pancake recipe.” They may now need to change that to “centuries-old…”
I've had this starter for 36 years and use it to bake bread, pizza, chocolate cake, banana bread and more, including of course, pancakes and waffles.
Sourdough starter is easy to transport...put about ¼ cup of flour on some plastic wrap, make a well, and then put in about a tablespoon of starter in the center. Wrap the plastic around the starter/flour, and then put it into double zip-lock bags. Double because sourdough can and will "grow" and if it gets into your suitcase you will not be happy. Oh, and also include a simple note to any custom inspector that might open your bag to explain what this strange stuff is so they don't panic and put you and your starter in the lockup.
When you get home simply mix some flour and water into a thick paste (lumpy is OK), then add the "lump" of starter and mix in. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight. Next day take out ½ cup of this mix (discard the rest) and mix into a fresh flour/water mix. Let this work overnight as well...that should do it. You should have a bubbly bowl of sourdough ready for your favorite recipe. If you need more information from this point, just drop me a line and I'll respond.