I’ve been maintaining this sourdough starter at my house in Sicily for the last year and a half. I really didn’t want to throw it down the drain when we had to move but I was a little leery of packing it in my luggage and taking it on the plane. I don’t think I would have been allowed to carry it on board with me and I was worried about it being discovered in my checked luggage during a random search or at customs. Although it’s pretty much just flour and water, I was sure it would somehow cause a problem!
So, I shipped it to myself instead! I put about a quarter cup of my well-fed starter in a little thermos, packed it up with some of the other last minute things I was sending, and shipped it to myself Priority Mail. Priority Mail from an overseas military post office takes a bit longer than the promised 2-3 days here in the states. But the package arrived on Wednesday, several days quicker than I expected!
The thermos did leak a tiny bit but most of the starter was still inside and was smelling very, very strong after it’s journey around the world. I wasn’t sure if it was still alive but I had high hopes because that starter has managed to stay alive even through my most neglectful periods when I let several weeks go by at a time between feedings.
I was right to be hopeful because my beautiful sourdough starter, although a bit sluggish the first day, is now alive and well and bubbling and happy and smells absolutely wonderful! I am so excited that I brought it with me! I am imagining all those crazy little Sicilian yeast meeting up with the local-laid back southern California yeast and I can’t wait to see how they get along!
My sister and brother-in-law look at me like I’m crazy when they see me leaning over my bowl of starter with a huge grin on my face. But they are certainly looking forward to some homemade sourdough bread baked in their own oven! And they know what to expect because they were visiting me in Sicily when I baked my first perfect loaf of sourdough from this very same starter!
So that’s my exciting news for today! I plan on starting a new sourdough starter from scratch soon just to see how it compares to the one that I brought with me. When I start the new one, I’ll write more about how to start, feed, and maintain a sourdough starter. I also have some great sourdough recipes to share! I use my starter for everything from pancakes and muffins to pizza dough and bread!
Ciao for now!
bethany actually says
VeggieGirl: I don't know why I haven't written much about sourdough on this blog. It's one of those things that will take almost as much effort to write about as it does to make and it's a little intimidating for me. I'm also a little afraid that my passion for it will take over and I would end up writing about nothing else! But I'm sure I'll find that it won't be as hard to write about as I imagine...just as the sourdough starter itself wasn't nearly as hard to deal with as I had believed! So, sourdough recipes will definitely be coming soon!
Pam: Isn't it fun? After a while, it kind of starts to feel like family :-)
Kalyn: That's so interesting! I don't remember anyone in my family ever making sourdough although we all love to eat it...especially in San Francisco!!
BethanyActually: Well, like I said, the container I used leaked a bit so I am going to do some research and find out the best ways to transport it. I've heard that you can dry out some of the starter, crumble it and then transport it that way but I never got around to trying it. I'm going to test that out and if it seems to work because that way it could be carried on the plane without arousing any suspicions :-) I was certain I would be suspected of transporting some type of biohazard if my starter was discovered in my luggage! And yes, airport security has made me more than a little paranoid!
Teah: My favorite thing about sourdough is the stories and history behind it! I actually purchased a tiny bit of starter from King Arthur Flour (bought it online for five bucks and had it shipped to me in Sicily). I did this not because I couldn't start my own but because that particular starter is descended from a New England starter that has been maintained for over 200 years. I just fell in love with the idea of becoming a part of that history, even though the starter would completely change as I started maintaining it in Sicily. So my sourdough starter actually began it's life in New England, lived in Sicily for a while and is now making itself comfortable in San Diego. I love it!
Veronica: Sourdough bread has always been my favorite and I've always wanted to bake it at home but was intimidated by the idea of creating a sourdough starter. But once I learned more about it and got it going, I realized that it's really very simple to maintain and there are so many things you can do with the starter besides bake bread! I find it really exciting!
Ruby: I knew this post would make you say that :-)
Lewis: Thanks for stopping by! Unfortunately I had no choice but to mail several boxes back to myself since it will take a month for the earliest shipment of our belongings and possibly two months for the big shipment. I've had really, really bad experiences with the mail service and several things were broken during this shipment alone (three boxes arrived in such bad shape that there were gaping holes ripped in the cardboard). I just made sure that the starter was in a container that was impossible to break and that it was in a box that didn't have anything valuable reported on the customs form (so there would less chance of it being stolen)!
And yes, I know that the starter will soon be overrun with the wild yeast from this area (or whatever it is that happens, it's still kind of a mystery to me!) and the flavor will change accordingly but I love the idea that it's traveled around the world and I hope to keep it going when I move the next time, too! :-)