It’s a fact: New York has the world’s best bagels.
And now, thanks to the American Chemical Society, we know why.
Yes, it’s the water, but not quite in the way you might have thought. New York has “soft” water, meaning it has very low concentrations of calcium and magnesium. That mineral content is what gets the gluten in the dough to just the right consistency. But that’s not the full explanation: The best bagel makers cool their dough for several days before baking to give the yeast plenty of time to ferment and make their delicious flavors. And then, before they get baked, the bagels are boiled for 30 seconds to 3 minutes in a kettle full of that excellent New York water, pregelatinizing the starch in the dough and locking in the water to produce that perfect, chewy texture.
For the all the science-y details—and the trick to softening non-New York water—watch the full video.