Many of our students ask me about the practicalities of taking their sourdough starters no journeys with them. They have travelled from all over the world to visit the school, so it’s only natural to have concerns about getting fresh starter back home. But in fact, it’s very straightforward. Sourdough starters, when they are refreshed correctly, can remain out of the fridge for between 24 and 36 hours, as long as the starter is kept at a regular temperature. This means that most journeys can be accomplished between refreshments… if not, it’s very easy to maintain your starter while still on the road (or train, or plane!)
When you leave the school, we supply you with a small pot travel which contains 80g of sourdough starter. We also give you a bag for the starter to travel in. We refresh the starter on the last day of the course before you leave, to ensure it’s at the optimum point and ready to travel home. We also supply small bags of flour, so if anybody needs to continue refreshing their sourdough starter for a few days before they go home or on the journey, then they are able to do so. Keeping your starter healthy is a very simple process, and will be fully explained on the course. But the instructions are here in case you forget.
HOW TO REFRESH WHEN TRAVELING
Essentially, to refresh your starter you take ¾ (60g) of the starter out of the 80g we give you. Then stir 25g of water and 35g of flour into the remaining ¼. All you’ll need is a small spoon or, at a push, you can use your finger for mixing. This ratio of flour and water keeps your starter slightly thicker than you would normally have it, which slows down the rate at which the bacteria consume their food source.
There are a couple of considerations to bear in mind – the main one to remember is that your sourdough starter is still fermenting, and is going to be producing gas. It’s worth opening the lid every few hours to release these. If you forget, the worst that can happen is that the gases build up and pop the lid so that a little of it spills out into the bag. This isn’t really a problem because you can simply wash the starter out of the bag when you get home, and you will only need 20-25g of it to refresh anyway.
Taking your sourdough on an aeroplane.
I don’t recommend keeping the bags of flour in your hand luggage, because more than likely you will be stopped and have it tested at the airport. But I do prefer to carry my starter in hand luggage, although it can also safely travel in the hold and it will get cold, but certainly shouldn’t come to any harm. If you decide to take it in your hand luggage, remember that it will be subject to the restrictions on liquids and gels, so don’t try to carry too much. I also find it helps to clearly label the container or bag with the contents… if nothing else it can lead to some interesting conversations at security!
It’s really not a problem to travel with your sourdough starter. I’ve taken mine all over the world. In fact, the sourdough starter you will be leaving The Sourdough School a starter that has already been all over Europe, as well as to India and the USA. So we’re sharing a very well-travelled starter with you!