While the way dry pasta is made has changed over time, the product itself has
remained the same: a simple blend of flour and water. In Italy, while fresh pasta can
also be made with soft wheat flour, dry pasta is made exclusively with durum wheat
semolina, which contains gluten, a tenacious substance that remains al dente even
Selecting the durum wheat is a key phase that has great influence on the quality of
the final product. Pasta making uses only the highest quality durum wheat that
comes from the heart of the kernel without the bran. It has a uniform yellow color
and high protein content, with high-quality gluten.
Wheat is brought to a mill to be dried, cleaned and ground. During the milling
process, the kernels pass through a series of separators that break them down,
remove their external layers and grind them into progressively finer flour. The last
phase refines the flour and creates a product called semolina.
Wheat semolina is then kneaded with very pure water. The starch and protein in the
wheat bind with the water to form gluten, a protein network that holds the
hydrated starch granules together.
During the extrusion phase, the dough is molded by dies into one of many possible
shapes. An extrusion die has holes at its entrance and exit points that form the
dough into a specific shape as it is pushed out of the pasta-making machine. The
holes in the dies can be made of bronze or covered with teflon. Bronze die extrusion
creates a very rough and porous surface on the pasta, which helps sauces to cling
much better. Teflon die extrusion, on the other hand, creates pasta that is
smoother, and more lustrous and elastic.
Drying is the most critical part of the entire pasta production process. During this
phase, pasta is left to rest inside dryers that are ventilated with hot air, which
reduces their water content down to the 12.5% max. moisture level provided for by
Italian law. The length of the drying process will vary depending on the type of pasta
being produced. The final product is then slowly cooled at room temperature.
At the end of the production cycle, the pasta is packaged in various types of boxes
and bags depending on its shape and size. Packaging serves two purposes: to
protect the product from external contaminating agents and to provide consumers
with full nutritional information.
BOX: HOW DO I STORE PASTA?
To conserve the nutritional value and quality of pasta, store it in a clean, tidy, cool
and well-ventilated place. Open or damaged packaging can attract insects, so always
store pasta well-sealed in its package.