The Best Way to Travel with Sourdough Starter
Have you been curious to hear how traveling with sourdough starter went? If you've been following my sourdough series on social media, you'll know I just moved back to the States from Japan and brought my beloved sourdough starter with me!
I spent so much time cultivating and caring for the starter, affectionately known as Max Danger Davis, that I absolutely could not leave the country without bringing it with me! I tried two different methods for transport, and here's how it went.
A day or two before hopping my flight, I made sure to have enough starter that I could take some off the top and leave the rest with Eric. I took a sheet of parchment paper and smeared some starter across it in as thing a layer as I could manage. I set it on a tray inside the cracked oven with the light on so it would have a little warmth and circulation to dry out. Worked like a charm! A couple hours later, and I had little chips of starter that I stashed in a sandwich bag.
The other option was to take a pea-sized portion of starter and incorporate as much flour into it as possible. Basically, I was stuffing it with food, which it couldn't eat because there was no water. I put that "flour ball" into a small airtight container and stored it in the fridge until I got on the plane.
A million miles later and I was in Seattle. Max the Dried Chips was briefly stolen but then returned with the rest of my bag, and I eventually made it to a hotel where I spent the next week. The room didn't have a mini fridge and it was 3-4 days later that I discovered I could request one and I refrigerated Max the Flourball, but kept Max the Dried Chips at room temperature.
When I finally made it to my semi-final destination of Idaho, I began the process of resuscitation. Max the Flourball smelled a little bit like blue cheese, but I knew if he was still alive in there, the good yeasts would win out over everything else. I used filtered water to rehydrate both versions, slowly adding water until the consistency looked right, and began feeding every 24 hours. Dry Chips just never seemed to show any life signs, and after several days, I called it quits. Flourball on the otherhand, revived immediately and quickly lost its blue cheese smell. He was the clear winner! So if you ask me, the flour ball version is the way to go.
A few days in and I was ready to bake. Max's first job back was a delicious batch of sourdough cinnamon rolls. So tasty! And there are artisan loaf plans in the works as well.
How to mix up your starter for traveling:
Starting with a pea-sized amount of starter, mix in as much flour as you can using your fingers. Add more flour until you can’t add any more. The ball will be quite stiff. Keep refrigerated if possible. To rehydrate your starter at your destination, smoosh the ball flat and barely cover with water in a narrow container. Allow to sit a couple hours. With a fork, break up the ball and incorporate into the water until you achieve the usual consistency of a just-fed starter. Leave 12-24 hours before feeding as usual.
**If you know a home baker who might need to travel with their starter some day, please feel free to share this post via email, Facebook, or Pinterest.
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