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Puratos launched in 2013 the world’s only sourdough library. Located in the village of St. Vith, 87 miles southeast of Brussels, the library today houses the world’s most extensive collection of sourdough starters. Karl De Smedt lives this Quest for Sourdough every day. He is Puratos’ dedicated ‘Sourdough Librarian’, traveling the world in search of old bread traditions and preserving the sourdoughs in the Puratos Sourdough Library since 2013.

What is the Sourdough Library?

Traditions have been passed on, adapted, evolved or even forgotten about. Puratos believes that today’s bakers should have access to the expertise of the 250 generations of bakers that came before us. That’s why we research and preserve the heritage of bread in our Sourdough Library and re-introduce this tradition of sourdough baking with our own range of O-tentic and Sapore sourdough ingredients. Karl De Smedt, the Sourdough Librarian explains;

“In 2013 we decided that we wanted to provide a real heritage source for bakers and consumers around the world. An open one at that . The Puratos Sourdough Library now houses an amazing collection of sourdoughs. We don’t own them though. This is a non-profit initiative and the sourdoughs remain property of their respective owners. It’s Puratos’ way of contributing to the heritage of bread. Today, over 130 sourdoughs from over 23 countries are analyzed and preserved for future generations. Every 2 months the sourdoughs are refreshed with their original flour, following their original recipe. That way, we guarantee the sourdoughs microbial culture is stable”

Like Norway’s Svalbard seed vault, which safeguards crops against disasters, and the Ice Memory project in Antarctica, which protects glacial ice cores threatened by climate change, the sourdough library is essentially a preservation center. Besides showcasing geographically diverse varieties of yeast, it conserves a burgeoning stockpile for future generations to study. – The New York Times

The Sourdough Library truly shows how endless the variety of sourdoughs, flavours, and bread is. Each sourdough has its own culture, and shapes different breads. Re-introducing this complexity in modern days bakeries is the right way forward. In conclusion, modern technology and Puratos’ experience in sourdough make it possible to control every facet of the process when baking sourdough breads – from artisan up to industrial scale. with many major bakeries launching their own long-fermented breads with sourdough, sourdough is here to stay and promises to play a major role in bread making of the future

Discover the Sourdough History

Understanding the full scope of sourdough fermentation

Professors, professionals and baking enthusiasts flock to the Puratos Sourdough Library to research the microbial composition of traditional bread baking. Universities researched how bakers’ hands impact the microbial culture, for example. We’ve also investigated the stability of microbial cultures in sourdough with Rob Dunn, Professor of Applied Ecology at the North Carolina State University. And with our partner, Professor Marco Gobbetti from the University of Bari and Bolzano, Italy, we are analyzing the composition of micro-organisms on a daily basis. More than 1300 micro-organisms have been recorded so far – making sourdough perhaps the most complex ingredient in bread baking.  It is only by understanding the full scope of sourdough fermentation that we can discover the full potential of bread. New research shows that sourdough may impact more than taste only. The extra time taken to make the sourdough and bread can improve breads digestibility. Clearly, the benefits of long fermentation and sourdough on well-being are gaining better understanding, and consequently gain traction.

It is only by understanding the full scope of sourdough fermentation that we can discover the full potential of bread, leading ultimately to the most delicious, healthy breads ever baked.

Although rich in diversity, the Sourdough Library can only add about 20-25 new sourdoughs to its collection each year. But that’s without harnessing the power of the online community. “At www.questforsourdough.com everybody can put their sourdough on the map and make it known to the world. It is this online collection that truly shows how endless the variety of sourdough is.” Since the launch of the website at the end of 2016, over 2300 sourdoughs from around 100 countries have been registered. It is the largest online collection of sourdoughs in the world, and it’s open for everyone to explore.

Join the Tradition, Create your Future

We partner with our customers to make successful sourdough breads. While they are masters in the making of their bread, bakers can rely on us to master the fermentation of Puratos’ range of O-tentic and Sapore sourdoughs. By understanding every facet of natural fermentation, we guarantee bakers the consistency they need, and the diversity in flavors consumers expect.

What is sourdough?

Sourdough is a natural agent used for making bread which ferments and causes the bread to rise. It is made of flour, water, micro-organisms, lactic acid bacteria and yeasts, naturally present in the basic ingredients. The taste of sourdough depends on the micro-organisms and their association and can vary a great deal. A large number of different sourdoughs exist and each one gives bread a unique taste.