Story stirs memories of columnist’s Amish Friendship Bread
Laurel Canyon music, vibe moves to Grammy MuseumTucson band wins Ellington jazz competitionEurovision winning drag queen returns in triumphRep. Rogers hopes for ‘smart debate’ on radio showAustrian drag queen wins Eurovision song contestSummer movies highlight 20s to 30s shiftLed Zeppelin’s Page honored at Berklee graduationDynamic duo: The success of Jimmy Iovine, Dr. DreToday’s feature on teen entrepreneur Robert Ahrens and his sourdough starter and bread bakery brings to mind a starter of another kind Amish Friendship Bread.It began when a reader asked her for a recipe for a Friendship Cake made with a yellow cake mix and fruit. She was unable to locate the recipe, but during a search through her home computer, Jayne found instructions on how to use Amish Friendship Bread Starter. She thought she had the recipe for making the starter, but she discovered the file was empty.She asked her readers for help.The response was terrific, she noted in a January 1996 column. “Lots of you had just what I was looking for, and I promised I’d share the recipe and its variations in the future.”But that never happened.”It seems an Ohio newspaper after getting the go ahead from the Cooperative Extension and the University of California ran an article on ‘starter’ recipes,” Jayne wrote.Upon seeing the story, a “local food scientist still questioned the safety of any unrefrigerated milk mixture.”The newspaper contacted Professor Manfred Kroger, an expert on fermented milk and dairy products at Pennsylvania State University, notes Jayne’s column. At the time, Kroger also was a representative of the Institute of Food Technologists.According to Kroger, creating foods from starters that are the result of “wild” fermentation may contain harmful bacteria or toxins or both.”We have no idea whether they might make you sick,” he said, adding he wouldn’t “trust” such a product.Kroger was referring only to starters made without yeast, Jayne wrote. Although he “considers starters that use controlled fermentation prompted by the addition of yeast to be safe,” he recommended against sharing starters with friends because of possible cross kitchen contamination.Jayne didn’t agree with Kroger or the naysayers, but she noted she couldn’t “in good conscience print information” regarding Amish Friendship Bread Starter. Instead, she offered to send a copy of the recipe to anyone who mailed her a self addressed, stamped envelope. She got more than 50 requests.Because the topic was so popular, she decided to wrap up her column, “A Little Help,” with some additional Amish Bread information given to her by a friend. who processed her starter in a Ziplock bag so she wouldn’t touch it with anything metal. The instructions call for using wood, plastic or nylon containers and utensils.In that final column, dated April 23, 1996, Jayne informed readers her column would be replaced timberland shoes with On the Table by Nancy Edwards (me). She told folks if they have the starter and are interested in the recipe for processing it in a Ziplock bag or if they wanted the recipe for the starter to send their requests to me with a self addressed, business size envelope.I was not prepared for the volume of mail I would receive 133 requests.And how do I know exactly how many? I counted them. I still have those letters in a red folder in a cabinet near timberland shoes my desk. I am not sure why I saved them, but I am glad I did. I enjoyed going through them and reading people’s comments, including this one from a Kelso woman who wrote:”I would love to have the recipe for the starter. About eight years ago, I was given some friendship bread (starter) to work with. It was in a Cool Whip container. I left it on the counter to work and my husband, who thought he was helping, cleaned the kitchen for me and that was the last I saw of my friendship bread (starter).”I asked him the next day where it was.”He said, ‘You mean timberland shoes that stuff in the plastic container? That stuff was rotten. I threw it out!'”I would love to have the recipe to start it and the instructions to keep it going.Also, if you have a regular sourdough starter recipe for Sourdough Bread, I would be forever grateful. My mother died 11 years ago and my fondest baking memories were her sourdough biscuits and pancakes. She always kept some working in a jar in the refrigerator. I would love to do the same.”Seventeen years later, the Amish Friendship Bread Starter recipe is easi timberland shoes ly accessible on the Internet along with many variations of breads and cakes.