Leaving on a Jet Plane with Sourdough Starter, Krautchi, and a Head of Cabbage

Reader Contribution by Blythe Pelham
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When my mother asked me to fly out for a visit, the first thing that went through my mind was how I was going to package and mail all the foods that I wanted to share while there. I envisioned dining with my mead, krautchi, various canned goods, and perhaps cooking fresh breads with sourdough starter. Having sent care packages to our children in the past, I knew the postage was not going to be cheap and I worried that the starter and krautchi might show the wear and tear of three days in the care of the postal service.

I doubted that much of what I wanted to take with me would work in my carry-ons due to current restraints (nothing liquid over 4 oz, etc) but I wasn’t sure about checked baggage. A quick glance at the rules and regulations eased my mind. While I usually never check any luggage, I decided doing so this time might enable me to take the things I wanted to for about the same price mailing would have been.

I knew I was going to see an aunt, uncle, sister, niece, sister-in-law, our daughter and her sweetie besides my mother and wanted to share tastings with each of them. My space was still limited since I wanted to avoid checking a bag on the way back. Thankfully, my puzzle-loving brain took on the challenge with vigor.

I happened to have two batches of krautchi coming ready for refrigeration during my planning phase and I decided to delay them just a couple of weeks. The day before I left, I moved parts of the batches into the fridge and loaded up a couple of Ziplocs for the suitcase. Just to make sure, I triple-bagged the lot. After all, no one wants a lingering kraut smell in their luggage and I really didn’t want to leave a trail of sour drippings along the way!

I used bubblewrap around the bottles of non-carbonated mead, then put them into a protected box in the center of the suitcase. The whole box was nestled in a 13 gallon trash bag, just in case. I also bubblewrapped the jars of preserves that I took for my daughter. She and her beloved wanted me to teach them how to make krautchi so I decided to take along some ginger and mustard seed to show them how I make mustard as well. Bonus! I ended up coming home with another recipe for mustard since my mom’s pantry is somewhat different from my own.

The sourdough starter was my biggest worry as I wanted to be able to use it right away due to the scheduling of guests and I didn’t want to have a delay. I needn’t have worried as the hold of the plane acted as a refrigeration unit and everything checked was still cold when I unpacked in warm, sunny Palm Springs. The biggest shock, temperature-wise, was my own. I left snow and temperatures in the 30s, clothed in my long undies and layered outfit (jacket included) and deplaned to low 80s in a mostly outdoor airport. I flexed easily and happily adjusted.

That first night I fed the starter after taking out a bit to make up pizza dough for cooking the second day. The next day’s starter discard became sweet rolls for the following morning… and so the first week of my trip continued. I repeated pizza and sweet rolls for my daughter. Her boyfriend is gluten-free but after a detailed discussion sharing some of my findings he decided to try some of the baked goods. We even made a lovely boule of sourdough bread and they took the rest of my starter home along with the krautchi and some of the mustard we made.

Everyone got to taste the mead and krautchis that I’d brought with me. Oh, and that head of cabbage mentioned in the title? That was a last minute addition. It went into my carry-on and only raised one eyebrow just the teensiest bit. I wanted my daughter to be able to make her krautchi with something from my garden. We also threw some of the cabbage around a pork roast for my aunt and uncle.

Even though I pared my luggage down on the way home by one sizable bag, I was still able to fly home with five grapefruit, six lemons, a passel of rocks, and the now-empty mead bottles as carry-on. Regulations have become much more restrictive than they were in my youth but I was happy to be able to travel with all the goodies that I wanted to.

Simple reminders include: Check the current regulations. Prepare to be stopped and searched by the TSA. Triple bag everything along with bubblewrap where needed. With a little planning, creativity in cooking can travel right along with you.

Blythe Pelham is an artist that aims to enable others to find their grounding through energy work. She is in the midst of writing a cookbook and will occasionally share bits in her blogging here. She writes, gardens and cooks in Ohio. Find her online atHumings and Being Blythe, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS postshere.

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