The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

"Alaska Jack's" sourdough starter a hybrid or the real thing?

aryaya's picture

"Alaska Jack's" sourdough starter a hybrid or the real thing?

I just received a packet of the "Alaska Jack's Sourdough Starter" off of ebay and am concerned that it is not truly Alaskan Sourdough. To me it seems like some kind of gimmicky/touristy hybrid.

The ingredients for one thing: bleached enriched flour, salt, fumeric acid, acetic acid, datem, soybean oil, lactic acid, ascorbic acid, 1 -cysteine, azodicabronamide, fungal enzymes.

This tells me its some kind of generic packet that does produce a starter - it has instructions on feeding it and keeping it alive - but this can't be a true hand-me-down alaskan starter can it? Thanks for any thoughts.

wdlolies's picture

Jesus, that doesn't sound good at all.  A starter should, in my opinion, only contain flour and water.  The fungal enzymes are a natural part of it.  I know that some people add juices and stuff to their starter, but surely not all these acids.  How did they advertise the product?

Regards from Ireland.


LindyD's picture

Bleached flour and chemicals?  Sounds more like a septic tank additive.

A search turned up the stuff at various souvenir shops - half an ounce for three bucks.

If you have unbleached flour and water available, you have the ingredients to develop a sourdough culture.

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough


It appears to me to be more of a gimmick / gift item that a true starter. More of a one time use thing. Product description says "bread mix".


I would chalk that up to experience and order a true starter from someone like Sourdough International or Northwest Sourdough. They will send you the real deal.



ananda's picture


This is the sort of dry powder as used by large bakery manufacturers, I suspect.   It reads like a bread improver, of sorts.

Flour is used as "a carrier"; Salt, I assume to control activity; Datem is an emulsifier; Ascorbic acid is an improver to give strength to protein structure; L-Cysteine is also an improver, but this relaxes the structure; Fungal enzymes cover a multitude of areas, eg fungal amylase added by the miller to control the reactions in the dough converting starch to sugar for the yeast to feed off.   Azodicarbonomide has been banned in EU for sometime, although I gather you lucky people do not enjoy such protection provided by the food authorities...yet!

No wild yeasts are listed, and the lactic and acetic acids will have been added in powdered chemical form to achieve dough with a consistent and known level of acidity [pH]

Don't know about "touristy", but it would be hard to call it a "natural leaven" don't you think?

Why don't you send it back to the manufacturers and let them know what you really think about what you have been sold?

Best wishes


aryaya's picture

and thank you for all the thoughts - confirmed my suspicions. The seller believed it to be the 'real thing' when I notified them, siting many of their customers care and feed for their starters and bake with it often - too bad they were all duped somewhat.

I went ahead and purchased an alaskan starter from sourdo before posting here - is that considered a good site to get sourdough starters? I should look into the other two sites suggested here.

Thanks again to everyone. 

Ho Dough's picture
Ho Dough

If your starter is from


That is Sourdough International. I've activated two of his starters (Not the Alaskan) and they were fine.

From what I've read, "Alaskan" starters tend to be yeasty fast risers more suited to pancakes, waffles and biscuits, vs. breads. If that is what you are after, you should be fine. If bread is what you had in mind, there are probably others like the San Francisco types that might be a better choice.

aryaya's picture

that's the site I'm talking about - duh to me - you're right that's sourdough international. That's why I wanted the Alaskan was for those reasons, looking forward to trying the pancakes with it. I've had a san francisco starter for some time, (and like it) and ready to try something new.

cryobear's picture

Last year I was invited to France to help solve a problem with CERN's cooling systems. While there I was taken to a "Food Fair" that had bread that was one step beyond great. I asked if I could have a sample of the starter. You would have thought that I wanted the bakers daughter. I don't need to repeat the words, but I got the point. However I timed it right when he was baking and I had a flight to L.A. that afternoon. Begging got me a unbaked boule that was to be baked at the lab. NO WAY, it was sliced and diced, frozen and shipped to 8 differend parts of the world. Thawed and fed, it still thinks it's in France.
This was not my idea. I had a buddy in school that loved De Carlo Sour Dough. This was back in the fiftys and they sold bread in the freezer section for people who wanted to bake their own. Some companies still do, and it's a great way to get a starter that YOU like.

LindyD's picture

Chances are that French starter really recognizes it lives on Main Street USA (or wherever) and has no memory of life in France.  Local wild yeast and the yeasts present in the flour refreshing it take over and prevail.

Am glad you weren't caught.  Probably would have created an international incident.  ;-)

Urchina's picture

I think that qualifies you as a starter mule. ;)

mishk's picture

If you guys want authentic Alaskan sourdough starter, go to

DaveW's picture

Sounds like a rip off of "Sourdough Jack" Mabee who sold a really good Alaskan starter back in the 1960s and 70s.  It was the first real starter I ever used.  At that time his culture was from a 75 year old stock. It would now be well over a century old.  I understand it is still available (although Jack died decades ago) from a poster on the Yahoo discussion group at:


It had a smooth flavor and hooked me on sourdough for life. Especially good for those Yukon style pancakes.

HorseDancer's picture

I also used both Sourdough Jack's starter and cookbook in the mid 60's and it was GREAT!

I LOVED the pancakes, too!  But I did find a great file from the University of Alaska that has both a starter recipe and cooking recipes including chocolate cake: