The Fresh Loaf

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Travelling with a starter

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L_M's picture
L_M

Travelling with a starter

I'm now on the other side of the world (for me at least) visiting family and I was so happy to bring some of my starter that lately seems to be more active than before... so I dried some and I also made a small amount of very stiff starter to take in my suitcase - so far sounds good - but... now my suitcase is lost!! I'm really wondering what to expect when/if my suitcase ever does show up. I'm having all sorts of flashes in my mind of it oozing out all over everything - yuck!! Well it will be a lesson to me for next time, that's for sure!

L_M

zolablue's picture
zolablue

That is certainly not a good thought.  Wow, I hope you get your luggage soon.  I have to travel tomorrow and I'm dreading it.  I am so worried about this very thing and although I'm not taking my starter (:o) I am not packing certain things I would love to take just in case they'd be lost.  I hope at least you put it in a sealed container in a ziplock bag so you will not have a mess in your luggage.  Yowsa.

sourdough-guy's picture
sourdough-guy

Yeah put it in your hand luggage. That's where I keep my valuables.  : -) 

 

Sourdough-guy

pelosofamily's picture
pelosofamily

We had the same experience on a family holiday.  We had packed ziplock bags with basics like sugar flour salt pepper so we didn't have to purchase where we were renting.  They had said the luggage had got lost but I've come to learn that anything that is not recognizeable is held back for inspection and doesn't  go on the flight with you. You get it the following day with appologies. 

Susan's picture
Susan

I've waited for that question in airports but haven't had it asked. Also for the wet variety. I've practiced saying "Just smell it, you'll smell that it's sourdough starter. It has Sourdough Starter written right there on the baggie, can't you see it."

Susan

L_M's picture
L_M

Well it seems from all of your comments that this certainly has happened before!

It sounds weird, but since I live in Israel and we have very tight security when leaving and entering the country and a lot of it goes on behind the scenes - they have ways of deciding who and what to check, but but my main concern was my connecting flight within Canada and that's why I put it in my suitcase and not my handbag. Anyhow, by now it may have gone around the world and back or maybe they are just inspecting it...

Now maybe this was really silly, but I made a loaf of sourdough rye and put that in my suitcase as well! If the dogs start sniffing, I may never see that suitcase again!

L_M  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

put plenty of address stickers inside.  Also a tip:  All your hand carry loose items, make up, etc. have to go into a see through zip lock bag so put a business card in there.  My girlfriend lost all her new expensive stuff when she came back to claim it 30 min later.  
Most international customs agents see SD as biological contaminators and if they find it, take it.  Hope your suitcase is not sitting in the sun somewhere.  Also Americans are the worst of the inspectors, they ruin things, break things and are most unpleasent.  Traven agencies recommend all bags going to North America be unlocked.  Did you lock your bag?  Hope all comes out well.  Mini Oven

comn's picture
comn

Yeah, that's been my experience with locks; if you put a lock on it, they figure you have something to hide and just break it. 

L_M's picture
L_M

It has been now about 36 hours so I'm starting to loose hope. Address stickers inside the case is a good idea Mini Oven so I'll make sure to do that from now on, and I never lock my case - they are so easy to break anyhow and sometimes for security they do open to inspect. One thing for sure is that I always travel with a nightgown and a spare pair of undies in my handbag.

In the meantime I've got a new starter in the making. It will be interesting to see if there is any difference now that the flour is completely different from back home. I'm using what we've got at the moment which is all purpose enriched and OJ again so now this one I'll call 'oj -ca' (for Canada).

I think I better start shopping because everything I took was in this one suitcase...

L_M

oven so Ill make sure to do that from now on

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Most of the time it takes at least a day.  Two is not uncommon.  Three, can still happen.  It will show up soon.  I wonder what it would say if it could talk.  I've lost lots of luggage.  And it always seemed to find me.   Whenever I fly with my pink bags from the 70's, and they get lost, they're found while talking on the phone.  :) Mini Oven

L_M's picture
L_M

Just reporting, as I haven't been around a computer for a couple of days - my suitcase finally arrived last night (after 4 whole days!) and everything is in perfect condition. They just showed up with it at the door at 11:30 PM, and I guess I'll never know where it was. The starter smelled a bit from alcohol and I hope it will be fine after a feed or 2, and the new starter is progressing very well - smells a little more fruity than I remember the one at home did, but looks good. Time to start baking...

L_M

bwraith's picture
bwraith

L_M,

Good to hear things are looking up on the baggage front and also the sourdough front. I'll be curious to know if the starter can be revived after all that, but I bet it will be fine. Meanwhile, best of luck in your travels. I've tried some baking while traveling and found it challenging but very satisfying when it works. If you can fit it in without getting too much foot tapping from those around you, it can be a lot of fun and stimulates the creative juices, too.

Bill

L_M's picture
L_M

The old starter from home doesn't seem to be perking up too well so far - not dead, but not very lively either. Now on the other hand the new one is quite bubbly and smelling very different than I recall the old one ever has. It is very nice, like a mixed bouquet of fruits and flowers with a touch of alcohol. I think I'll still feed it a few more times before I actually use it to leaven bread on it's own, but should it stay smelling like this? If so, then all of my starters until now have been missing something. I don't have a scale here but I've kept it looking like it is a little bit looser than a 1:1 by weight for now.

Thanks for any comments...

L_M

bwraith's picture
bwraith

L_M,

I've had mine for more than two years, and it always smells the same after a couple of feedings. Once it is fed and fresh, it does smell very nice, like you can take a very deep whiff of it, and it just smells delicious. I would say flowers or fruits come to mind. So, maybe that one from home never quite was ever really right. That may explain some of problems you continued to have with it, even though it seems to have worked to make some bread, yet I remember you complaining about overly sour flavor even after quite a long time of repeated refreshments. However, why that would be, I have no idea. With the various "jars" I've tried recently, the ones that "took off" always smelled good like your describing after a couple of weeks.

I keep wondering what subtle details of a particular environment or the flour used cause things to go differently. Clearly, in my kitchen I always get a much stinkier first 48 hours than it seems is average for others, which is why I've spent time messing around with acid in the starter recipe early on. Maybe you have had some other similar subtle problem at home that keeps the "right" orgranisms from getting established.

I hope it turns out the new one is good, and maybe you can transport it back and have it continue to be good back home. If the old one comes back to life, I'd be curious how its flavor compares to the new one.

Bill

L_M's picture
L_M

Hi bwraith,

You know I really am starting to wonder if I've ever had a good starter. The one I brought - 'oj-jr', had changed just before I left, after living on the counter almost all the time and I used sourdough-guy's suggestion of feeding major amounts - anywhere between 1:10:10 - 1:20:20 and just letting it do it's thing. It took about a week of this and then one morning I woke up and it was different. It looked like after the first day of my 1 cup 12 hr experiment, but the smell was always the same - my good old sort of banana like ( maybe yeast?). The bread I brought over was too sour and quite dense, never mind hard, but again I have no idea what conditions my suitcase went through, and of course the starter was in there as well...

In the meantime I've been making yeasted bread with some of the left overs from feeding 'oj -ca' for flavour. Probably by the time I get either of them really lively enough for bread it'll be time for me to go back home! It sure is fun playing around and learning though. If this one does do well you can be sure I'll take some home with me.

L_M

bwraith's picture
bwraith

L_M,

I've had that experience with my starter "jars" each time. They seem to putter along very sluggishly after 3-4 days (after being very stinky and rising like crazy in first 48 hours), but then at some point after that, usually a few days but sometimes it has taken as much as a week or two, there is a very noticeable change that happens all of a sudden, like overnight. The smell becomes much more pleasant - fruity and flowery as you say, and the flour stays paste-like with big bubbles in it instead of deteriorating between feedings, and the rise is more vigorous, too. That change is when it seems to me I have the "real thing". 

Good luck with those starters. I'll be curious to know how it goes. Hopefully no luggage problems on the way back.

Bil

L_M's picture
L_M

It seems that 'oj-jr' has come alive again, and is now starting to smell almost the same as 'oj-ca'. Either it is the difference in flour or the fact that it had past that 'noticable change' just before I left. So far 'oj-ca' does get quite soupy by the time it is ready for it's next feed, whereas 'oj-jr' holds the texture better and has bigger bubbles. I'll see if there are any more changes tomorrow.

L_M