Puratos, which hosts the World Heritage Sourdough Library in Belgium, is developing a new sourdough collection in Oxfordshire.

Housed in the company’s Innovation Centre in Fringford, the new project currently comprises 20 sourdough starters and has been developed to help understand UK sourdough and the impact local environment and ingredients can have.

Ingredients from the surrounding area, such as waste from a nearby winery, fermented nettles grown on-site and milled flour and sloe berries from a few miles away, are being used to create sourdoughs particular to the location.

Puratos researchers will look at the impact of variables such as hydration, temperature, fermentation time, handling and storage conditions on the starters and on end-products.

“By creating this UK collection, we are further demonstrating our commitment to bread-making and using the learnings from our World Heritage Library to gain more detailed insights,” said Puratos UK bakery NPD manager Kurt Van Vlasselaer.

Two of the sourdough starters have been DNA-mapped, revealing the specific strains of wild yeast and lactic acid bacteria they contain.

The research has revealed these are unusual strains, which are contributing to fast fermentation times, darker crust colour and interesting flavours, said Puratos.

The next piece of research will focus on furthering understanding of the science behind the sourdough starters and will include studying the effects of scaling up, as well as continuing to DNA-map all of the sourdoughs.