A month ago, to the day nearly, I arrived in Durham, North Carolina. Most of my possessions came later (including most of my baking supplies. But I brought my partner, my two cats, and my barm. I have had this beauty since 2009 in Seattle. She has made 1,000+ loaves, crackers, pancakes, and cinnamon rolls. She has been in the San Francisco wild yeast air, and survived at least 5 moves.
I put her in a refrigerator bag, brought my scale, water filter, and flour. I think that my barm took up as much space as a cat, and I worried about her nearly as much. Once in Durham I noticed that she seemed sluggish, super sour, and not especially yeasty. She smelled like sea weed and rice, an olfactory flavor I had never smelled in her. I knew that the trip had been difficult. It was difficult for all of us (We had to drug one of the cats and she still yowled and rubbed her nose raw a few hours a day for 6 days). I just didn’t realize how rough it was on her.
Thinking back is like watching a movie that you have already memorized: you see all the plot twists and know exactly where the main character messes up. The car was not an even enough temperature. I left her in there for no more than 10 minutes (to use the bathroom, check into the hotel, get gas…) but it was enough time for her environment to shift too much, even in the refer bag. I fed her every night (should have been twice a day), and should have used bottles water, not just filtered from the tap.
Well (once “home”), I fed her a few times a day, but no change in her look or odor, for 5 days. I decided to go back to the feed from when I first started her from pineapple juice. I fed her honey, with the water and flour mix. I fed her honey for 3 days. On the fourth morning, she had exploded! She smelled like sweet yeast, bread, and heaven. I literally hugged her container, crooning to her like a baby. I think my partner feels I am a little crazy (he had been suggesting I start over with a new one, to which I nodded but secretly seethed at him-never abandon your barm!).
I am happy to say she is back. She’s off the honey and still growing well with each feed. My first Sour dough loaves in Durham are about ready. Time to break in the oven!!