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Calgary woman’s ‘very potent’ sourdough starter has roots in ancient Egypt

A Calgary woman is now serving up an unusual ingredient for people who like baking. The taste may be new to some, but it’s part of a very old tradition.

Vivian Woods is selling a sourdough starter that’s got its roots in ancient Egypt.

“It’s 4,500 years old, from the Egyptian pyramids. They’ve gone in and done excavations, and they were able to actually find some clay pots from the very first bakeries,” Vivian said. “They scraped the spores and the flakes off these pots, and took them back to different labs to reactivate them.”

Two of the people involved in that project in Egypt now live in Idaho, which is where Woods’ supply of sourdough starter comes from.

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“So we were able to get our hands on this stuff,” Vivian said.

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She said despite its exotic origins, the starter is a fairly routine ingredient for most home bakers.

“Reactivating it is quite simple,” Vivian said. “It only takes water and flour.”

Woods’ mother Jan, a veteran baker, has been making bread with the ancient sourdough starter.

“It’s a very potent and interesting culture to work with,” Jan said. “Sourdoughs that are more mature are way more active, plus you get more of a sour flavour.”

Vivian sells the starter in a liquid form in the Calgary area, with another option for those farther afield.

“We’ve got some sourdough starter that’s dehydrated,” she said “We ship 10 grams of that all over the world”.


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