The Puratos World Heritage Sourdough Library

Nothing demonstrates our commitment to bread making more than the Puratos Sourdough Library. Set within the Center for Bread Flavour, the Sourdough Library aims to safeguard the sourdough biodiversity and preserve the sourdough heritage and baking knowledge, and is the only of its kind in the world.

The world needs safe places to store its precious things

Whenever you hear someone talking about keeping something valuable in a safe place, you tend to assume they are talking about one of those traditional financial institutions you see on your local high street, but Puratos, like a few other organizations, has something else in mind.

A seed vault in Norway - Spitsbergen

svalbard

Many people will have heard of the Svalbard global seed vault in Norway. Its mission is to provide a safety net against accidental loss of the world’s biodiversity due to accident, equipment failures, funding cuts or natural disasters. It is an important world resource as traditional seed banks do suffer these types of problem with some regularity. Indeed there has already been a first withdrawal at the Svalbard seed bank (in 2015) when the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA) ran into difficulties moving its headquarters from Aleppo to Beirut because of the Syrian Civil war.

A new ice archive in Antarctica – Ice Memory

Icememory

The world’s ‘ice core’ archives are also being moved to a snow cave at the Concordia Research Station in Antarctica after concerns that warming temperatures could put stocks held elsewhere in jeopardy. Obtained by drilling down into glacial ice that has been built up in layers over thousands of years, ice cores let scientists examine the world’s changing climate conditions over thousands of years. They contain actual atmospheric samples at the time the snow fell as the snow crystals include trapped air bubbles, made when the ice was formed.

Safeguarding the world’s sourdoughs

In a similar fashion, the Puratos Sourdough Library in Sankt Vith exists to store and safeguard the world’s best sourdough cultures. More than hundred bakers from all over the world had accepted to send a sample of their sourdough culture to the Puratos library for safekeeping, for just like seeds, sourdoughs are fragile and can occasionally be lost or damaged leaving the world a little poorer than before. The bakers recognise this too and are delighted to have someone take care of a portion of their live sourdough culture elsewhere than at their bakery. After all, their unique sourdough is not just part of the taste heritage of the world but directly linked to their livelihood as well.

Every new arrival to the library is checked and analyzed for microorganisms in the laboratory of Professor Marco Gobbetti from the University of Bolzano and Bari or other universities in Spain, France,...and to date, more than 800 strains of wild yeast and lactic bacteria have been isolated and recorded. These microorganisms are then stored in a freezer at -80°C/-112°F so as to preserve the biodiversity for the future.
The actual sourdoughs themselves are kept in optimal condition in refrigerators at 4°C/39°F and refreshed every two months with the original flour with which it was made, thereby replicating conditions in the original bakery. Have a look at the sourdough collection already in the physical library here.

Have you registered your sourdough already? Then maybe one day it might end up in this unique collection. If not, do not wait any longer.
Register yours by clicking here