Take a Virtual Tour of Belgium’s Sourdough Library

Sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco, the city that gave the library its very first sourdough starter back in 1989.
Sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco, the city that gave the library its very first sourdough starter back in 1989.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As scores of people take up baking to pass the time (and alleviate stress) while self-isolating, sourdough bread has seen an astronomical rise in popularity. Whether you’re just getting introduced to the properties of yeast or you’ve been cultivating your own sourdough starter for ages, you could probably learn a thing or two from Karl De Smedt, who’s spent several years gathering sourdough starters from all over the world for the Puratos Sourdough Library in St. Vith, Belgium.

According to Smithsonian, most of the starters are from European countries—there are 38 from Italy alone—but some hail from other places, too, including the library’s very first starter from San Francisco. That sample was collected by Belgian bakery supply company Puratos in 1989, and it was De Smedt who later suggested they display their ever-growing, multicultural assortment to the public.

They opened the one-room library in 2013, and you can now explore the collection for yourself via a 360-degree virtual tour, which features an introduction by De Smedt, refrigerators containing a total of 125 sourdough starters, and videos that tell the unique stories behind 12 of those starters. In one, for example, De Smedt travels to Italy to explore the origins of the famous Altamura bread, which ancient Roman poet Horace called “the best bread to be had” all the way back in 37 BCE. In another, De Smedt heads to China’s Hebei province for a mouthwatering lesson on steamed buns.

On the left side of the virtual tour is a menu that lists 87 of the starters; if you click on one, you’ll be shown that particular jar along with information about its history, flour type, and bacterial characteristics. Since sourdough starters’ microbial colonies can evolve over time, it’s not clear how old some of them actually are.

“If someone insisted she had a 500-year-old sourdough, I’d have to believe her,” De Smedt told The New York Times.

You can explore the virtual tour here.

[h/t Smithsonian]

Amazon's Best Cyber Monday Deals on Tablets, Wireless Headphones, Kitchen Appliances, and More

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Amazon

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Cyber Monday has arrived, and with it comes some amazing deals. This sale is the one to watch if you are looking to get low prices on the latest Echo Dot, Fire Tablet, video games, Instant Pots, or 4K TVs. Even if you already took advantage of sales during Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday still has plenty to offer, especially on Amazon. We've compiled some the best deals out there on tech, computers, and kitchen appliances so you don't have to waste your time browsing.

Computers and tablets

Amazon

- Amazon Fire HD 10 Tablet 64GB; $120 (save $70)

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- HP Pavilion Desktop, 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100 Processor; $469 (save $81)

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Headphones and speakers

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Video Games

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TECH, GADGETS, AND TVS

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- Amazon Fire TV Stick; $30 (save $20)

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home and Kitchen

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Hate Brown Apple Slices? Use This Simple Trick to Keep Them Fresh

Jessica Lewis, Unsplash
Jessica Lewis, Unsplash

Though they're perfectly safe to eat, brown apple slices aren't the most appealing-looking snack. If you love sliced apples but can't stand that fading color, eating them faster isn't your only option. All you need is a bowl of water and a bit of salt to keep your apples looking and tasting fresh and crisp long after you cut into them.

This trick for keeping apple slices from browning comes from Reader's Digest. Before picking up your knife, prepare a bowl of cold water. Stir in roughly half a teaspoon of salt for every cup of water and set the bowl aside until your apple slices are ready. Soak the slices for 10 minutes, drain them, and rinse them off to get rid of any excess salt. You can eat your apples right away or store them in a plastic bag or container for later. Either way, they should keep their appetizing white color for longer than they would without the saltwater soak.

Discoloration on an apple slice doesn't mean it's gone bad. When the enzymes inside an apple are exposed to air, they produce benzoquinone and melanins in a process called oxidation. This chemical reaction is behind your apple's rapid browning. Salt inhibits these enzymes, which slow down the oxidation process.

The saltwater trick is great for keeping apples looking fresh, but it only works if they've been sliced. Here's a tip for stopping your whole apples from going bad after bringing them home from the grocery store (or picking them straight from the tree).

[h/t Reader's Digest]