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? Transporting my bram

FaithHope's picture

? Transporting my bram

My friend is coming to visit, I want to send her home with some of the bram I have already going.  How should I do it?  She'll be in the car for at least 6 to 7 hours and in the plane another 4 hours.  Should I just freeze it, and give it to her in the morning when she leaves?  Should I feed it first, then freeze it?  Any suggestions?  Thanks so much!


dmsnyder's picture

Do you want to give away your pram?  Your brain? Your barm?

Hmmm ... given the context, I'm guessing you mean "barm," and I'm guessing you mean the sourdough starter that Reinhart incorrectly calls "barm."

I think there are two "best" ways, but first you have to understand that you can adjust the hydration level of your starter up and down more or less at will.

For both methods, I would feed your starter and let it start to ferment for one hour at room temperature before proceeding with one of the following.

Method 1: Dehydrate your starter

1. Cut a piece of wax paper about 12 x 12 inches and lay it on a hard surface.

2. Spread 2 or 3 tablespoons of your fed starter on the wax paper as thin as you can, using a rubber spatula or the like.

3. Leave this film of starter on the wax paper, at room temperature until it is completely dry. At that point, it should easily separate from the wax paper in flakes.

4. Transfer the flakes of dehydrated starter to a sealable container such as a Ziploc bag, plastic food storage container or small caning jar.

This should keep for a very long time at room temperature. You can also freeze it, as a back-up for your starter, for .... I'm not sure how long, but I'd bet years.

To rehydrate the starter, take a tablespoon of the flakes and mix with a tablespoon or so of water and about the same amount of flour. Let this sit for 24 hours. Feed it again every day until it is bubbly. Then, feed it as you would any other starter.

Method 2: Make a super-firm starter

1. Put 2 tablespoons of fed starter in a bowl.

2. Mix with flour, adding the flour gradually until the ball of "dough" just can't absorb any more. It should be very dry - just hydrated enough to stick together.

3. Put the ball of "dough" in a container that can be well-sealed.

This will keep for a few days at room temperature. It should be dry enough so the yeast will not really ferment the flour. 

To re-constitute the starter, chop the dry dough ball into small pieces (pea- to marble-sized) and place them in a bowl. Cover the pieces with water and allow them to soften for a while, then mix them into the water to make a milky "soup." Then add enough flour to make a thick batter. Ferment this until it is bubbly and expanding somewhat (8-12 hours). Then feed it as you would your regular starter.

Comment: If the starter has to travel less than a day or two, I think Method 2 is much easier. I used this method earlier this month when I went on a vacation. The dough traveled in my backpack and remained at room temperature for 2 days before getting re-hydrated. It made great bread.

I hope this helps.


FaithHope's picture

HA!  What a nut I am!  Yes, I mean barm, but I guess my brain is going too! :)  Thanks so much for this totally awesome help!  Wow, David this is great!  The only book I have right now is BBA so I'm just learning a lot.  Peter R. is all I have now besides what I've been reading on TFL.

So, your information is so helpful!  Thanks for taking the time to write it all out for me I really appreciate it! :)


FaithHope's picture

PS.  Why shouldn't it be called a barm?  Just wondering?

Yumarama's picture

Barm is a term for a product in beer making. Mr Reinhart has since acknowledged the misuse of the term although that doesn't repair the error in already printed books, of course. But it is Starter or the French term, Levain .

BTW, if/when you ship off your friend with starter (powder or paste) make sure it goes into their suitcase and not their carry-on. Airport security may not "get" that the little bag of powdery stuff is just innocent starter. They have problems with toothpaste, after all. No sense setting off red flags at the check-in line.

Also, you can always mail it. Powder form can take as long as it needs, stiff dough can go for many, many days.

dmsnyder's picture

FWIW, I carried both dried and firm starter in my (carry on) backpack a couple weeks ago. No questions from the TSA folks. Of course, YMMV.


gcook17's picture

I've mailed barm 2 different times and both times it worked fine after arrival.  I put a fairly small amount (about 4-6 oz.) in a big baggie so there was room for expansion and put the baggie in a box.  I sent it priority mail so it hopefully wouldn't take more than a week to get to its destination.  I fed it the day I shipped it and it was cold but not frozen when I packed it.  One of the times I mailed it was in the summer but it wasn't killed by its journey in hot weather.

I think it's a lot hardier stuff than we give it credit for.


Nora Claire's picture
Nora Claire

Hi Greg,

I realize this is an old thread, but maybe you're here! What method did you use when mailing your starter? I will be shipping it priory mail from NY to North Carolina in the winter.



FaithHope's picture

Great!  Thanks again for the helpful info and tips! :)