Free Sourdough Starter

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Looking for a free sourdough starter? I ran into an intriguing (and free!) source recently. I have not tried the starter, but my friend Christina is currently maintaining this wonderful and tasty starter. We enjoyed her sourdough bread a few weeks ago, and it was fabulous.

The starter is Carl Griffith’s 1847 Oregon Trail Sourdough Starter and you can get some of it by sending in a self-addressed stamped envelope (donations are welcomed, too!). Carl passed away in the year 2000, at the age of 80. Here’s a bit about him from the website:

Carl T. Griffith, who gave a sourdough starter to anyone who asked, or who sent him a self-addressed stamped envelope, died early in the year 2000 at the age of 80. He is known for his generosity and the high quality and vitality of his sourdough starts, which came from a sourdough culture carefully nurtured and preserved in his family for over 150 years.

Visit the Friends of Carl website for more information about Carl, the starter, and to find out how to get some of it yourself.

I’m sharing this resource for a free starter in Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet – and also with Fight Back Friday at FoodRenegade. Welcome to Kimi’s and Kristen’s readers!

Now, here’s a note for those of you who will be taking the Fundamentals eCourse. You’ll need to get a sourdough starter ahead of time. Dehydrated starters like this one can be acquired any time. And since this one could take a few weeks to arrive, better jump on it now. Please consider donating to support the work of Carl’s friends who maintain his ministry in his honor.

If you’re taking our Sourdough eCourse and don’t want to make your own starter — this could be an option for you as well.

Simple Plan for Healthy Food eCourse

And if you have any questions, be sure to let me know. Back to that starter, is anyone planning to get it? Or, are you using it already? What do you think of it?

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!


  1. barb says

    Long time lurker here. I’ve been using the Carl sourdough starter since Nov 2009 and have not had one bad loaf of bread. I can’t stress how good and active this one is. It’s tangy but not super sour. Works in every kind of flour i’ve tried.

    Also, their website is really helpful. Somewhere in there are instructions on ow to keep the starter going using very small jars (like babyfood small) which is helpful and a savings for me. Somehow i was always ending up with gallons of starter taking over my kitchen!

    One thing I’d like to note is that although the starter is free, it’s kept going by volunteers and it would be nice to be able to send a small donation along with your request to help defray some of the costs they incur.
    Peace and green blessings,

    • says

      Barb – I’m so glad to hear another good recommendation for this starter! I’m also glad you mentioned including a donation with requests, a really good idea for those who are able. Thanks for commenting, Barb!

  2. Cheryl Lee says

    What a fabulous story – and a generous man, a gift. Thank you Wardee for bringing us this valuable information!

  3. says

    This is really interesting.
    Although I know what sourdough bread is, I had NO idea you needed a sourdough started, and this culture has been nurtured in his family for over 150 years.

    How amazing!!!!

  4. Brook says

    I’ve also been using Carl’s starter for more than a year now. My starter always bubbles a lot when I feed it and I’ve even noticed that if I neglect it a bit, it is fine after it’s fed. I just throw it in the fridge and pull it out and feed it a few hours before I want to use it. I do feed it with white flour and but I use only 1/4 cup for my whole wheat loaf. I’ve been thinking about switching the starter over to whole wheat but, I feel ok with only using 1/4 cup of it for the whole loaf. I agree with Barb – it is not very sour and it is nice to give them a donation. I think I gave them $2 or $3 and it’s been worth every penny and then some.

  5. Kelli says

    Thank you for sharing the information on the free starter. My neighbor shared some of her starter with me, but then I got behind on feeding it, and it has been in the fridge for months being neglected. I am afraid to take it out and discover if I have killed it or not!

  6. says

    I am sending for the free starter, but since I have started the sourdough one you had on your website, I would like to know if I have to let it set for 8 days even if I am cutting the recipe in half, or is it ok to make bread after 5 days? Thank you.

    • says

      Marlene, hi! Are you referring to getting the dehydrated starter going? How long you want to do this depends on the room temperature and the development of the yeasts. In my instructions from Cultures for Health, it says “Repeat this process (adding water and flour) every 12-24 hours until the mixture becomes light and bubbly. If the mixture is kept quite warm, this process may be concluded within the first several feedings.” When the mixture is light and bubbly, then you make the bread. It doesn’t depend on volume of starter, just activity of yeast. I hope this answers your question – please let me know how it is going for you!

  7. says

    Is there a huge difference in adding a starter in making sourdough compared to just allowing the dough to get sour? Starters are hard to find here and as of the moment, I avoid ordering online that requires shipping from US. Thanks. If I couldn’t find any, I think the only reliable source I know is Cultures for Health.

  8. Joy says

    Hey! I just sent off for the sourdough starter. My question is about reviving the starter. I understand how to feed it but I want to use only whole wheat flour, are the measurements the same as for white flour? Also, the way I understand the instructions, you feed the starter then use about a cup of it to make your bread, then what do I do with what is left over? Do I just feed what is left again and make more bread when it bubbles or can I use the extra cup and freeze it so I will have a backup starter. I must tell you that I plan to take your ecourse to hopefully help me understand how to better use the sourdough. I think I am making it harder than it really is. Thank you for all of your wonderful information.

    • says

      Hi, Joy! As you revive the starter, you’ll be discarding portions of it. (Can be composted.) I would use the same amount of ww flour as white, yes. You can freeze extra starter for a backup.

      All these questions and more are covered in the sourdough lesson of the eCourse. It is open now! (Don’t know if you know that.) And you can grab the sourdough lesson right away to get you started.


  9. Barbara says

    I just received my starter today . It did not take long to receive it. I can’t wait to start it. Will let you know how it does.

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