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Old 07-22-09, 11:20 AM   #1
Fl Randonneur
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Touring with sourdough starter?

I've been using sourdough starter for baking bread, hotcakes, snack breads etc for the last few months and I know how sturdy this stuff is as long as it's looked after. It seems like the perfect road food. I'm in the early stages of planning a cross country trip next year and would love to take some starter with me for use on the road. Hot cakes etc.
The early settlers took it across country with them I don't see why I wouldn't be able to. Has anyone tried recently?
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Old 07-22-09, 11:50 AM   #2
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Seems like it would be heavy. Of course I am always a big fan of eating food on the road instead of carrying it. Where that is possible of course.
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Old 07-22-09, 12:01 PM   #3
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Sounds yummy, but also sounds like extra weight and bother. I try to keep it real simple on the road. When we had a appetite for hotcakes we usually just stopped for second breakfast at a diner. I think that maybe twice on the entire TA we did the pancakes where you mix the batter in the plastic jar the mix comes in.

I try to carry as little food as possible and buy daily and late in the day whenever possible.
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Old 07-22-09, 12:07 PM   #4
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Calling SRS.. SRS?? hello???? (Oh yeah, you're on your bike today....)

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Old 07-22-09, 12:33 PM   #5
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Whatever makes your tour enjoyable, that's what you should do. Making your own dough sounds like a lot of trouble to me, but others question why I take a 2.5 lb. sleeping mat and a nearly full size pillow on my tours. Knock yourself out.

I love breakfast foods, but I rarely eat breakfast when I'm not touring. The good stuff (sausage, eggs, bacon, hash browns, etc.) is too high in calories for me to eat every day. Cheerios don't do much for me. However, I can eat whatever I want when I'm riding six to eight hours a day and still lose weight. I take full advantage of that by seeking out the local breakfast diners and coffee shops. I avoid the chain restaurants and look for the local places where the waitresses call you "hon" or "sweety."

Fresh sourdough hotcakes sound great and if you enjoy the process of making them yourself, go for it. There are also great local dining options in small towns if you want to leave the bother to someone else. The early settlers didn't have the choice.
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Old 07-22-09, 01:48 PM   #6
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old method

The "sourdoughs", people that traveled in the back country and used starters to make their breads, carried the starter as a soft dough ball in the top of their flour sack. This eliminates the need for a jar and liquid starter. The ball of dough is reconstituted with water, half the batter is used for cakes or whatever and half is made back into a dough with flour and nestled into the top of the flour sack. No breaking or leaking or exploding jars to worry about.

I would suggest experimenting with this at home before leaving on your trip.

Last edited by sedges; 07-22-09 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 07-22-09, 02:22 PM   #7
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I have been making breads, including sourdoughs, since at least 1977, so I am sympathetic to the idea of hauling one's own starter and using it to make fresh breads, muffins, pancakes, and other yummy baked goods. I wouldn't do it myself, but I totally get it!

Some of the problems associated with carrying sourdough starter on a bicycle trip might be:

1. Heat. If your starter gets too warm, the starter will die. Riding on a hot day, the temperature inside a pannier may be too much for your starter. Keeping the starter in an insulated container might help.

2. Vibration. I am not sure what the effect would be of all day bumping around. It might have no effect on the starter, or it could cause it to lose leavening power. After all, when rising dough, it is usually best to keep it in a quiet, vibration free place.

3. Feeding. A sourdough starter needs to be fed regularly to keep it alive. You can use almost anything edible that breaks down into sugars: cooked potatoes, wheat flour, and so on. You will need to keep your sourdough starter on some kind of feeding schedule, whether you use it or not. That may prove to be inconvenient.

4. Cleanliness. It's no fun to discover that a sourdough starter that one has maintained for months or years has gone moldy. Contaminants can be introduced into a starter by adding unclean materials, or by stirring with a dirty spoon. It's not impossible to keep everything clean on a bicycle tour, but it is a lot harder than in a kitchen!

5. Containers. Don't carry a sourdough starter in a container that can break. You probably should not use aluminum. Plastic is a little iffy. And although glass is the preferred material, don't! Glass containers are too easy to break while traveling. I know; it happened to me.

While traveling in rural France, I visited a bakery that leavened all its breads with a sourdough starter that had been passed down for generations. And what delicious bread it was. I asked the baker for a sample of the sourdough to take home. He put it in a glass jar. Later that day, while changing trains in Paris, my backpack fell, the jar broke, and all I was left with was a mixture of sourdough starter and glass shards.
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Old 07-23-09, 12:36 AM   #8
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I travel with the sourdough made up into a small ball, just add flour untill it is not sticky. Sourdough is not fragile, it can be re-constituted from almost any state. Over night, 8-10hrs ?, is enough time to get a batch ready to use. Buy flour as you go.

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Old 07-23-09, 07:58 AM   #9
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i cannot imagine the usefulness of bringing a sourdough starter along unless you planned to be doing a lot of time around the campsite preparing cakes, muffins, breads, etc versus riding a bicycle on a bicycle tour.

to each his own, but I'd just buy a box of Bisquick or Krusteaz as needed if needed.
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Old 07-23-09, 08:24 AM   #10
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I wouldn't have the time or inclination to cook bread on a tour as part of the fun is to sample baked goods in local bakeries.

For me sourdough starters fall into a gear category of "why on earth would you bring that", like guitars and paella pans which just points out how personal gear choices and touring styles can be.
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