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An interesting thread, indeed.
My starter has been well-travelled...Simpson's Ranch in Sierra Nevada foothills --> a former librarian of Sutter's Fort --> Cambridge, UK --> Me in Malaysia. There could be some missing links along the line, but, it possibly dates back to the prospecting days.
My starter is a week and a half old.
That's the oldest starter I've ever had...
So far... So good. I've gotten three loaves and 4 dozen muffins out of it.
The muffins have been pretty good, the loaves... I'm working on them.
Mine oldest one is a wheat one from 1857. I live in the UK. It was given to me by an American friend who got it from her college room mate who got it from a friend of hers who got it from his grandmother and it had been in her family in the US since it's birth. It's amazing really, and often sits around in my fridge for years without being used. Whenever I pull it out and refresh it, it just bounces back.
I just started a "sour dough share save scheme" that people in the UK can sign up for to get some of this starter - just for fun really. People sign up on the web and go on the list and when you go on the list you commit to refreshing the starter when you receive it and then sending some on to to the next person on the list who refreshes it and sends it on, etc etc.
I work on BBC Radio 4's Food Programme. I would be very interested in talking to you about your starter dating back to 1857. Please can you send me an email to email@example.com
There was a story some months back in the Denver Post about an old rancher woman in Colorado who still summers at her high ranch. Her old starter is only 50 years or so old. Here's the link to the story in case anyone cares to read about the not so rare tough old gal (we've many tough old folk here). http://www.denverpost.com/recommended/ci_16139067
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