The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

My starter's first international voyage!

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EricD's picture
EricD

My starter's first international voyage!

I'm moving in about ten days, and I'd like to bring my starter along with me. I'm not exactly moving across the street though, and I was wondering if anyone has experience with travelling on airplanes with their starter. I also have the idea that it may not be 100% legal to do so, but I've got a good starter going here that I know well, and I'm really interested to see how it reacts and changes in a new environment (I'm moving from northern Italy to Rio de Janeiro). I'd also hate to have to wait until I got another one going before baking some sourdough bread!

So in summary, my questions are essentially does anyone know what kind of regulations I may encounter, and the best way to pack it either way? Also, with the extremes in temeprature it may encounter for example in the baggage hold of the airplane, in what kind of shape can I expect to find it when I arrive? I'm completely fine if I have to smuggle it in a shampoo bottle or something in my checked baggage.

Thanks,

Eric

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

it will stink and be bitter and shampoo has stuff in it that isn't good for you to eat.  Bad plan!

Run a site search on travel starters and there is lots of info.  I would try several ideas, drying, firm starters, and label everything for exactly what it is.  Wheat Sourdough Starter, June 11, 2012  for use in baking. 

Put samples in the lugguage, toiletries, some in carry-on (I've declared a sample in with the toothpaste, lipstick, and other allowed liquids (total of 150g I believe) in see-thru zip lock bag.  But don't try to transport wet starters or anything above 50% hydration because it will expand when the plane reaches altitude and make a mess!  

My suggestion is to take a few tablespoons of your starter, add a few tablespoons of water and then enough flour to make moist crumbs (pinch pinch pinch to mix)  that just barely hold together when you press them inside the palms of your hands and form pingpong size balls of starter.  Use zip lock bags and press out the air, refrigerate until you pack them last minute.  Put a sticky note on your suitcase to retrieve the starters from the fridge.  (I forgot them once.)    Put them into the center of the suitcase so they are insulated from outside cold and heat.  Do not wrap in foil.  Put one zippy bag ball into your hand carry zippy bag that goes thru security.  Always label and you should be fine.  

When you get to your destination you can re-hydrate the ball of crumbs and if it has soured, more flour to feed.  It should be up and running sooner than dried.  Save other starter dough balls as back-up.  Have a nice trip.  You do realize you're flying into my neighborhood?  

EricD's picture
EricD

I was thinking more like the clear travel shampoo bottles made for transferring the shampoo rather than actual shampoo bottles. While some shampoos may add different, new flavors to my sourdough, that doesn't mean it'd be appetizing or safe in the end!

Thanks for the advice. For some reason I had in my mind that a liquid starter would have been a bit easier to transport. No logic to it, I just had that idea in my head. I'll absolutely make a couple, some to try to carry on and some others for the checked luggage. I'll also do some more research here on the site.

Which neighborhood is that, exactly? You live in Rio?

Thanks again for the advice!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sorry, I got so excited when I heard northern Italy I thought you were moving there.  So you're moving farther away!  :(

An interesting thing happened downstairs, I was talking with the owner and mentioned TFL, It came up first in English and then with a mouse click, it was translated into Spanish!  Absolutely amazing!   Wonder if that works in Portuguese?

EricD's picture
EricD

I'm abandoning the old continent for the new world yet again! 

I'm sure with google translate the site could be translated into most languages. My English is much better than my Portuguese at this point though, so I'll keep going with English! It's amazing the bridges of communication our technology can build these days, I agree!

clazar123's picture
clazar123

One of the people here moved back from South Africa to the US. He had a whole post on what he did and a comparison of the reactivation activity.Very interesting. I have only travelled across country (not internationally)but I did a liquid form (in with my declared liquids)and I did a dried form. Dried form wins, for me. I found out about the expansion-good thing it was in a plastic bag! :)

Liquid-I bought a NEW2 oz plastic shampoo travel bottle and half filled it and put it with my declared liquids in my carry on. No problems except it really does expand and escape.

Dry-I really activated my starter over a few days (2 feedings a day) and then took 1 tablespoon of the hyperactive starter and mixed it with flour until it was a powder. Best to do with fingers. It resembled a commercial baking mix when I was done and took longer than I would have imagined. Ziploc bag and labelled. Just add water at the other end to reactivate.

Have fun!

EricD's picture
EricD

I've just found and read that post actually, and it was very helpful. I'll probably be going for the crumb method, but I might try for a miniscule amount in a travel bottle of sorts as well just because I'd like to see just how much it will expand up there!

Thanks again!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

the pressure will force it out.  I also squeeze all the air out of toothpaste and shampoo bottles (the shampooly ones) and anything else.  Also totally sealed plastic bags may pop if there is no way for the expanding air to leave.  So I zip them almost shut.   :)   

plevee's picture
plevee

When I took mine from the West Coast USA to England I put about half a cup of just fed starter in the botton of a half gallon plastic sandwich bag. I squeezed out all the air and knotted the very top of the bag, giving it lots of room to expand. I put this in another plastic bag , just in case, and put it in my checked in baggage. It was ready to go when I reached my destination.

Patsy

Laurentius's picture
Laurentius

I've carried starter from US to Germany, US to Japan no problem(post 9/110). I wouldn't put anything in to a shampoo bottle, a ziploc bag will be fine. You only need to carry a small amount in your carry on bag. I would also bring a bread baking book, so if custom officials question you, reference in the book would be helpful with your explanation. Good luck with your new adventure.