The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Prepping starter for travel

pmccool's picture

Prepping starter for travel

As part of my preparation to move from South Africa back to the United States, I dried my sourdough starter using two different techniques.  The first was to simply smear a thin layer of batter-consistency starter across some parchment paper and allow it to dry at room temperature.  The second was to mix flour into some starter until it was reduced to crumbs.  I found that a mezzalune was very helpful in the latter stages of incorporating the flour by allowing me to chop the progressively stiffening starter into smaller and smaller pieces while blending in more flour.

The finished product, two bags of crumbed starter and three bags of flaked starter:

That gives me one packet per suitcase.  Each will be appropriately labeled.  Hopefully, at least one and maybe all will arrive home with me. 

I'm interested to start rehydrating a bit of each to see which one comes back to fighting trim more quickly.  I'll post follow-ups when I can.



GermanFoodie's picture

... and beware of the "beagel brigade". :) ~ Sofie

clazar123's picture

It was a newly bought, plastic screw lid jar that was about 1 ounce and travelled in my carryon as "face cream". Of course, I was only going across the US-not the world. But it arrived active and ready to be used. The trick was to make sure it wasn't too active while travelling! It travelled in its own ziploc bag.

I like the dry dough method. Didn't immigrants used to bring dry dough starter in this manner when they came to the US ?

Good luck,safe journey on your move.

Janetcook's picture


I just have to chuckle reading this.....and wonder what customs will say when they see your packets of starter in your belongings....

What lucky wee beasties you have - that they aren't being left behind and get to travel the world - albiet in an altered state.

I can only imagine your partents would be proud of your care with your packing job!

Hope all goes smoothly for you all and welcome home :-)

Take Care,


trailrunner's picture

Make sure and show the results of the warm water as it is added and the dried starter flakes respond. Can hardly wait to see. I have a number of friends in the US that want my starter and I have done nothing about sending a start. You will open new doors. c

chefscook's picture

I wish I was there when the custom officer looks in your suitcase and sees the sourdough

proth5's picture

legal, you know... But I've brought back starter in flake form from Japan with nary a question asked.  You need to crunch it up pretty well to get it to disolve, but use the water as the base for a new starter and in a couple of days you should be back on track.

During the initial phases of the "no liquids" rule I had a lot of trouble with tooth powder (remember there was that brief interval where no liquids at all were allowed in carry ons...) and the TSA agents told me that some powders read as liquids in luggage. 

Happy and successful travels!


pmccool's picture

as we have learned from our experience in having our household goods shipped back home.  My wife, who moved back a month ago, was aghast at the damage that Customs caused.  Even the shippers were taken aback.  Their first comment after opening the crate was "Somebody get a camera!"  A bunch of items are missing (cookbooks, mixing bowls, CDs, DVDs, part of a dessert set) and others were damaged (a stainless steel bowl).  Boxes were cut open but not taped back together, leaving the contents to slosh around loose in the crate.  Some boxes, apparently, were never put back in.  Oddly enough, our iMac arrived without any apparent damage.  From what we have been able to glean, the crate received an "intensive" inspection in Atlanta.  That appears to be Customs' euphemism for "tornadic". 

If every packet is found and confiscated, then I'll have to begin a new starter.  If so, it will be annoying but not devastating.  After all, I began this one after arriving here in South Africa.

I hope that the law of averages works in my favor, plus my openness about identifying the contents, so that some of it gets through.

Since I leave Jo'burg Thursday evening and arrive in KC Friday afternoon (both local times), it will be few days before I have anything to report.