Above: A bagel with lox from H&H Bagels Midtown East. Photo by Flickr user Kenneth Lu.
A story by the business news site Quartz on Oct. 7 confirmed what New Yorkers already know: The secret to NYC's bagels is in the water.
Bagel entrepreneurs are so desperate to mimic NYC's water that they have spent years and lots of cash adding those minerals back into their own water in places like Denver and Florida, Quartz reports.
The site interviews Josh Pollack, a bagel maker in Denver, who has developed a secret formula to put NYC-style water into his bagels:
“It’s mainly New York’s watershed program that’s the difference,” he says of the initiative that protects the region’s natural water sources, enabling local utilities to minimally-process the city’s drinking water. “They don’t use a sediment filter for their water, so a lot of the minerals that come from the reservoirs, as a result of those watershed protections, are still in the water." ...
Pollack, a New Jersey native, spent nearly a year sending water samples from across the NYC metro area back to Colorado State University for testing in order to narrow down the specific elemental differences. He then contracted with a local filtration company to build his shop a system that would reintroduce the necessary minerals, in the proper proportions, into his metro Denver tap water.
Unlike most cities, which have filtration plants, NYC's water is unfiltered, most of it piped straight over 100 miles from its system of Catskills reservoirs.
According to Quartz, the lack of filtration keeps a specific proportion of calcium and magnesium in NYC's tapwater. The minerals "strengthen the glutens" in bagels, making them chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.