Take a Peek Inside the World’s Only Sourdough Library [Video]

Baking bread is an art form. Especially when you’re making sourdough from scratch. You need the perfect temperature and humidity, you have to tend to your starter every day, and even if you do everything by the book, sometimes your bread just doesn’t turn out right.

But once you’ve gone through plenty of trial and error, making sourdough can quickly become a passion. And one man is so passionate about sourdough, that he established the world’s first and only sourdough library.

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Karl De Smedt is the brains behind The Puratos Sourdough Library in St. Vith, Belgium. And while San Fran may be a well-known bread capital to Americans, Karl says that sourdough belongs to the world.

A baker and confectioner by trade, De Smedt, the Sourdough Librarian, has made bread his lively hood. The library consists of 160 different sourdough starters from 20 different countries. Each jar is labeled and the starters need to be fed and maintained on a regular basis.

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De Smedt is so invested in this collection that he can tell you the origin story of every sample. For instance, he says that 64 was from an older lady in China, while 79 is from Josie, a baker in San Francisco. 104, 106, and 107, on the other hand, are from the Klondike Gold Rush of 1899!

This unbelievable collection doesn’t come without hard work, though. Every two months, all the individual starters are fed with the original flour from their recipe. This keeps the integrity of the bread alive and reassures De Smedt that his starters are the exact same as when he initially inherited them.

feeding sourdough starters
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See the original story at Atlas Obscura.

Written by Leigha Staffenhagen

Leigha Staffenhagen is our managing editor. When she isn’t writing and editing for Insteading, she’s reading, going to Mariners games, practicing yoga, tap dancing, weeding in her grandma's garden beds, and attempting to grow her own apartment garden.

One Comment

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  1. “Sourdough Librarian” may very well be one of the cooler resume lines I’ve ever heard of. How interesting! We start our sourdough from scratch every year–I found that the sourdough I made and used in Ohio was slightly different than the ones I’ve created here in the Ozarks. Each year’s starter has had a different character. I love that the localness of every sourdough is inherent–something of the land itself, hidden in each loaf. It would be fascinating to taste bread from every starter and compare them all!

    The music in the background makes it even more epic. Hilarious!

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