Pasta is one of the great pillars of Italian cuisine and an international symbol of Made in Italy. Simple, genuine and versatile, it is appreciated and consumed all around the world. Its productive process has a history rich in tradition, but also in important innovations. In this article, we will find out how pasta is produced industrially and what are the main steps to obtain this food with a unique taste.
The stages of the production of dry pasta
1. Grain selection
It all starts with the selection of the grain to be used, a crucial choice that will have a decisive influence on the quality of the final product. The selection is aimed exclusively at durum wheat, which, thanks to its tough gluten, is able to give dry pasta an optimal hold during cooking.
However, durum wheat groats are not all the same. In their selection there are two key aspects to be evaluated: physical (specific weight and impurities) and chemical-organoleptic (protein, gluten quality and yellow index) characteristics.
Therefore, only the semolina obtained from the heart of the durum wheat kernel, uniformly yellow, free of any cruscal residue, with a high protein content and quality gluten, is used for pasta making.
2. Milling durum wheat
At this stage, the grain is delivered to the mill to be sieved, cleaned of impurities and finally ground to obtain high quality semolina.
Through a machine called a rolling mill, millions of grains are freed from the layers that cover them, thus decreasing their size. Later, with the help of the tumblers, the mince is divided into bran, middlings and middlings.
The last step is the refining of the flour and regrinding of durum wheat. And this is how semolina is obtained in its purest form, ready to be kneaded.
3. Dough and gramolatura
At this point, in kneading tanks, the durum wheat semolina is mixed with pure water. During this process, the starch and proteins bind with the water to form gluten.
Essential at this stage is gramolatura, a kneading of the dough that, by compressing and stretching it, allows the gluten to distribute itself evenly, so as to obtain a homogenous and elastic mixture, suitable for drawing.
4. The drawing of the dough
The aim of the drawing is to give shape to the dough. The dies used in this phase have different shapes depending on the pasta format to be produced. Passing through them, the dough takes on the desired shape and texture, resulting in spaghetti, fusilli, penne and all varieties of dry pasta.
A curiosity: bronze or Teflon?
There are two types of dies, those made of bronze and those made of Teflon. Pasta made by bronze drawing has a rough, porous surface, which absorbs and binds better with sauces, but has the disadvantage that it darkens more easily. In contrast, Teflon dies form a smoother pasta that holds up better during cooking, but does not go as well with sauces and dressings.
5. Pasta drying and cooling
Drying is a crucial step in the dry pasta production process; it is necessary to reduce the moisture content of the pasta below 12.5 % (limit set by law). This process is carried out in special dryers, in which the pasta is ventilated with hot air, and can last from a few hours up to several days, depending on the type of dough and the parameters selected. Slow drying at low temperatures helps preserve the organoleptic qualities of the pasta.
Once dried, the pasta is then cooled and brought to a suitable temperature to finish processing.
6. And finally: packaging
The resulting pasta is then packaged inside cardboard boxes or transparent bags. This step allows to preserve the product from contamination by external agents and to present it to the customer complete with the necessary information.
Dry pasta machines: the perfect balance between innovation and tradition
As we have seen, the production of dry pasta is a complex process involving several stages. From the selection of high quality ingredients to controlled drying and packaging, every step contributes to creating the dry pasta loved all over the world.
In recent decades, industrial dry pasta production has benefited from the use of various innovations, while maintaining a substantial balance between traditional artisanal methods and modern technologies. This has improved production efficiency without compromising the quality of the final product.
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