Puratos Opens World’s First Sourdough Library

17 Oct 2013 --- The inauguration of the Sourdough Library has taken place at the Puratos Center for Bread Flavour in Saint-Vith (Belgium). The sourdough library is the first of its kind in the world and aims to preserve sourdough biodiversity and sourdough baking knowledge.

It is home to a unique collection of sourdoughs from bakers across the globe. Eric Kayser, master artisan baker and Chairman of the Board of Maison Kayser in Paris, joined the inauguration to place his sourdough in the Puratos Sourdough Library, amongst some 40 other sourdoughs coming from Italy, USA and Greece. Other collection programmes are running in France, China and Spain.

The official opening of the Sourdough Library at the Puratos Center for Bread Flavour in Saint-Vith (Belgium) introduces a truly unique and exceptional concept: the first-ever collection of authentic sourdoughs from around the world. The aim is to preserve sourdough diversity and sourdough baking knowledge, as well as to maintain the sourdough heritage.

At the Sourdough Library, the different sourdoughs are kept and grown in perfectly controled conditions, ensuring the viability of these sourdough strains for years to come. To date, Puratos’ scientists working together with universities (amongst others with professor Gobbetti from the University of Bari, one of the leading references in sourdough microbiology) in different countries have identified more than 700 different yeasts in their samples and more than 1,500 lactic acid bacteria.

Sourdough is a natural leavening agent for bread, which can be traced back as far as ancient Egyptian civilisations from around 3000 BC. A typical sourdough is a blend of flour and water fermented by microorganisms: lactic acid bacteria and wild yeast. They are naturally present in the flour and in the air, as well as in other raw materials like appel juice or yoghurt, which are sometimes used by bakers to give some uniqueness to their sourdough. Sourdough gives a very distinctive taste to the bread and depending on the type of sourdough; the result can be very different. With the introduction of baker’s yeast some 150 years ago, bakers started to forget how to make sourdough.

However in recent years, as a result of the trend towards more authentic tasting bread, sourdough has made a convincing comeback
Mr. Eddy Van Belle, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Puratos Group, explains the significance of the new Sourdough Library: “Consumers are increasingly looking for traditional recipes and authentic flavours. Sourdough has been used for thousands of years as an active agent in the baking process, but also as a key ingredient to give flavour. It is important to preserve this heritage, and what better place for it than at our Center for Bread Flavour.”

The Puratos Center for Bread Flavour in Sankt-Vith (Belgium) was established in 2009 as a centre of excellence specialised in sourdough fermentation and bread flavour development. In addition, the Puratos Group has four sourdough factories: in Andenne and Saint-Vith (Belgium), in Pennsauken (USA, NJ) and in Sils (Spain). Production lines at these four factories faithfully reproduce the methods of traditional bakers and respect the traditional fermentation times.

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