News & Opinion | October 15, 2018 5:00 am

Watch: Tour the World’s Only Sourdough Library

Belgian baker Karl De Smedt has created an archive of more than 100 sourdough starters.

Sourdough bread proving at the Haxby Bakehouse, York's artisan bakery in Haxby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom on 10th February 2017. The sourdough library in St. Vith, Belgium is the only of its kind in the world. (Photo by Tessa Bunney/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Sourdough bread proving at the Haxby Bakehouse, York's artisan bakery in Haxby, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom on 10th February 2017. The sourdough library in St. Vith, Belgium is the only of its kind in the world. (Photo by Tessa Bunney/In Pictures via Getty Images)
In Pictures via Getty Images

The Puratos Sourdough Library in St. Vith Belgium is the world’s only one of its kind, making its proprietor Karl De Smedt the world’s foremost sourdough librarian. Inside the Puratos Library, you can find 107 different starters, curated from about 20 different countries. The goal of the bread archive is to preserve the history and many different varieties of sourdough.

“In order to try and get as many sourdoughs as possible identified in the world, I am on the quest for sourdough,” De Smedt told Atlas Obscura on a guided tour. The selected starters each tell a story, with different birthplaces and cultural legacies built into them. The process of making sourdough is magical for a baker like De Smedt. “You see it bubbling. It’s alive, it’s like a pet,” De Smedt said of the baking process.