The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bringing sourdough into the USA by plane

harvey_pekar's picture

Bringing sourdough into the USA by plane

Hey everyone!


I´m flying to the States tomorrow from Spain. I´ve got my sourdough bathed in olive oil, in a honey pot.


I was wondering if it would be a good idea to try and get it over the border? Would I put it in my check in baggage, or in carryon? I would have to declare it, right?


Does anyone here have experience?

rainwater's picture

I just returned home from the Ukraine and brought in a bag of "Buckwheat".  I don't think you will have a problem.  Just fill out the "customs" card you receive on the plane.  They are more obsessed about plants, fruits, seeds, and vegetables that may bring in unwanted insects and such than regular food.  They are also more likely to be observant of larger monetary sums of "duty free" items, which I think there is a limit.  The immigration officer will probably ask what your starter is????? because it's an unusual food item, but with a short explanation, he will most likely be accomodating.

flourgirl51's picture

There are pretty strict regulations regarding carrying on any type of liquid, lotion etc. Even sealed tubes have to be thrown away. My guess is that you won't be able to carry it on. Good luck.

clazar123's picture

Curious to hear.

For future reference, I know there are some threads here that talk about drying a smear of your starter for a few days on a coffee filter and then just carrying it dry to the new location.Soak it in a little warm water and innoculate some flour and water with it, once you get to your new location and start building an instant starter. (The coffee filter would withstand a soak in a little warm water better than a paper towel or napkin.)Ingenious!

pattycakes's picture

When I returned to the US from Tuscany, I did what the old Fortyniners used to to: I added as much flour as I could to the sourdough, making it a solid ball, and I tucked it in my suitcase.

It is still happily serving me.


kneading's picture

I did the same thing after going to  one of Mike Avery's classes in Texas.

On my return flight home I made the starter "firm"  where it was no longer

considered a liquid. I also labeled the bag "sourdough starter". I left it in my suit

case and had no problem with it.

gardener-cook Joan's picture
gardener-cook Joan

I think it depends on which airport is your point of entry in to the U. S.  Entering through Dulles International I find it extremely difficult to bring any foodstuff in.  One suggestion others have commented on was to put it into your suitcase.  Do not try to carry it on.yourself into the air plane cabin.  You will lose it.

kneading's picture

That's the airport I had to go through to bring my starter home. I had it in my carry on and they didn't say a thing. I thought about putting the starter with my liquids but it wasn't a liquid.. I also brought back 9 sculpted Santa heads and metal armatures. I always get searched when I travel with armatures so I had 4 trays full of things they get worried about all laid out  .. that left only my  starter and clothes in my bag. I wasn't coming from out of the Country though.

As for my starter,it no longer smells as sour as it did in Texas but it works great.  

LucyBee's picture

I've been told by an acquaintance who works for CDC that transporting any kind of live bacteria is illegal.

I've taken live kefir grains from US to Europe and Asia, but have never brought any into US because, as the person stated above, Dulles International is a nightmare of an airport.