So, since the last post (which was quite some time ago), we moved back to Canada after three years of living in Africa. I had a really good sourdough starter going in Zambia, it was reliable and very active, and I didn't want to just dump it. I looked around and found some pages which described how to dry starter for transport, so that's what I did. Here are the steps:
1) I shmeared (thats a technical term,ha) a thin layer of starter all over a piece of baking paper, which I put on a cookie sheet. In a couple of days it was pretty dried out and started lifting off the baking paper. I let it dry out another day and then it was really dry and coming off the baking paper in big flakes.
2) I took all the flakes, put them in a zip-lock bag and crunched them up into something that was close to powder. it was a little a chunky, but still fine.
3) I packed the zip-lock into our baggage and hoped for the best. With all the airline paranoia I was a bit worried about explaining a bag full of white powder to the customs agent. "Well, it is organic, and I use it...to..um....bake." Sure, what will the sniffer dogs think? Luckily, nobody looked at our bags and the starter made it to Canada without any questions being asked.
4) After we got home, I simply mixed the dried out started with some water and some flour in a covered container and let it sit. At first, nothing happened, but after a few days a few bubbles appeared, I then fed the starter some more and let it sit, and it became more active. A couple more feed and refresh cylcles and it was going good as new.
So, now we have Zambian starter in Canada. I've used it a couple of times and it works great, so I'm pretty happy. I'm no yeast scientist, I wonder if there are that many different strains of yeast that something that started in Africa would be very different than a starter started in Canada, from the "kind of yeast" point of view. Anyone care to venture a guess?