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The secret to New York City bagels isn’t (just) in the water

“It’s all about the water.”

New Yorkers love to claim that the secret behind their delicious bagels flows from the faucet.

A new 3-minute explainer from the American Chemical Society (ACS) begs to differ.

The video blog admits that bagel quality is influenced by water’s “softness” — a textural feature dictated by levels of two benign minerals: calcium and magnesium. The mineral content in water can toughen the dough by interacting with gluten, but this facet plays a minor role in defining the character of a New York Bagel, according to the video.

The NYC best bagels, they say, rely on some extra love and care given prior to baking. The first key is letting the bagels sit in a cooler for a couple of days, which offers enough time for the yeast to ferment and release extra flavors. The second is boiling the bagels, which changes the chemical makeup of the dough’s starch, locking liquid water inside. The result is the shiny, crunchy exterior people seem to love.

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