The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Looking for starters from around the world

Jean-Paul's picture

Looking for starters from around the world

I am looking into trying out different sourdough starters from around the USA and the world, without having to pay $5-10+ shipping each. Who out there has an established starter I can get a small bit from so I can try them out? I would love to have starters from, naturally, San Francisco, along with other places like Alaska, France, Russia and Africa. Let me know! Thanks,



Jean-Paul's picture

As a way of saying Thank you to those who send me their starter, I will send them back a starter (or two or three...) I received from someone else, somewhere else. That way we can have an exchange of starters to try out! Imagine sending your SanFran starter and getting back a French and a Russian starter in return. Thanks again, Jean-Paul

flournwater's picture

A flat rate priority mail shipping box is $4.85 anywhere in the U.S..  Can't beat that.

althetrainer's picture

Can we dehydrate the starter and send the dried stuff on a strip of paper?  That would be regular letter mail rate, wouldn't it?  Or would it be too long a procees to get the starter to work again?  Just a thought.

gaaarp's picture

I have mailed dried starter in a regular envelope. I spread the mature and recently-fed starter on parchment paper, let it dry for a few days, peeled it off the pater, then pulverized it in the food pro. 

I mailed about 1 tsp with instructions to mix it with 1 tablespoon each water and flour, and to continue to add 1 tablespoon water and flour every 24 hours until it was nice and bubbly. As far as I'm aware, everyone to whom I mailed the starter received it and succeeded in reviving it.

qahtan's picture


 I think what a friend sent to me comes under the heading of around the world.

 He sent me some from London, England, some how it got mixed with other mail and went to Australia, from there it finally arrived in my mail box here in  the Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada.

 Yes it worked OK but I couldn't see a whole lot of difference in it.

 true there is a lot of wild yeast here as there is a lot of vinyards and fruit grown in this area. But,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,qahtan

Soundman's picture

I appreciate the input of Emily Buehler, who, like microbiologist Debra Wink, knows a lot about the science of sourdough starters. Both have a lot to teach us.

Though I am a non-scientist, I think there is a simple experiment any of us can do that will demonstrate that how we maintain a starter has everything to do with the microbial population it supports.

Here's the experiment: take your starter and split it into 2 parts, and maintain each part differently for 2 weeks, feeding each every day. For example, feed one a mix of 2 parts AP and 1 part whole wheat. Feed the other a mix of 2 parts whole rye to 1 part AP. Feed them on different schedules. For example feed the wheat starter three times a day, and the rye starter twice a day. Keep them at different temperatures: keep the wheat starter in a warm spot in your house, and the rye starter in the coolest spot in the basement. Within 2 weeks you will have fostered 2 very different communities of microbes.

(Not speculation; I've done it. And there's no way for me to turn my rye starter back into my wheat starter, even if I wanted to. They are now 2 significantly different microbial populations.)

The experiment is a little stark. I suspect that most of us would agree, just thinking about it, that the resulting starters would be different. The point is that there are differences, some subtle, some overt, between our climates, our flours, and our SD feeding schedules, that have everything to do with the "identity" of our SD starters.

I suspect it's fair to generalize that maintenance-routine, flour differences, and temperature differences, will change the nature of any sourdough starter. I would guess that these factors have a lot to do with the anecdotal evidence that location seems to change starters.

I suspect too that unless you can maintain your purchased starter in a very similar fashion to how it originated, and unless your climate is similar as well, it will change.