This story comes from Lisa who runs GEM cultures in Washington, US. They actually have a Viili culture that has been cultivated within the family for over 100 years and possibly long before that! Ironically this cultural heritage have been maintained in the US and I still have not been able to get hold of such an old culture still being cultivated in Finland – but still hoping.
“My late Uncle Van who passed away at 97 would have been the last one of that generation you may have been able to talk to in our family. In addition, my father an only child has already passed away. So that brings you to my generation and yes, the Viili we have has been in our family over 100 years.
My Great Grandparents came from Finland and brought the Viili with them, dried on a corner of a handkerchief, rolled up and stored in a safe place until they arrived here. Once they arrived and settled here, they had 14 children and the Viili was passed to each of them, one of whom was my grandmother who of course gave it to my dad and now we care for it.
Our Viili did not survive all those years however due to any one person caring for it but many had a Viili, so if someone lost their culture for some reason they would just go get another one from Aunt Sally, Uncle Ed or Uncle Van etc (these were my dad’s Aunts and Uncles) This is how is has survived so long.
As my Great Uncle Van was falling asleep in death a couple years ago, my step mother Betty (who used to own GEM Cultures) was there. He quietly asked her if she knew how to care for “the seed” and she assured him that she did know how to care for it. He was asking her to make sure the Viili was kept alive. Of course, Betty was already caring for Viili as they had started GEM Cultures in the 80’s and Viili was one of their live cultures.
Sandor Katz, the author of Wild Fermentation, is writing a new book on Fermented foods and is going to have a little reference to my Great Uncle Van, the baby of the 14 kids mentioned above and how he had cared for the Viili so long, and his parting words regarding “the seed”.
The moral of the story is with proper care a Viili culture could out live you !”
I hope this was helpful to you.