Why do spaghetti not stick anymore?

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Malaise in Italian kitchens … Our charming neighbors are no longer the only holders of art and how to master the cooking of pasta! Because this operation is now available to everyone, whether you are a talented cook or beginner. Decryption of this phenomenon.

The evolution of industrial processes has allowed some advances such as the reduction of cooking time – sometimes as short today as for a boiled egg! – But the most spectacular progress over the last thirty years has come from  breeders  and their work on  durum varieties . 

Pasta does not grow on trees, it’s well known. But we sometimes forget that they are made from durum wheat. It is even one of the most common forms of consumption of this cereal. Their quality is expressed through many factors such as cooking time, the amount of water absorbed during cooking, texture after cooking (firmness, elasticity), presentation, color, aroma and taste. sure.

Pasta too cooked, no more panic!

Let’s dive some spaghetti into boiling water. They will not only maintain a good resistance to cooking but also to overcooking. What to stay zen in case of unexpected phone call! They will also be very pleasant in the mouth because their texture will be firm and supple. 

These culinary qualities are directly derived from research on varieties . Because durum wheat contains naturally and in large quantities gluten, a set of proteins whose properties – viscoelasticity for example – play a key role at the time of cooking. 

Only here, the quality of gluten varies from one variety to another. All durum varieties are not equivalent. It was therefore necessary to select specific varieties containing a gluten of the desired quality. The block of pasta all stuck together and overcooked now belongs to the past, for the greatest relief of students!

Yellow pasta or pasta with eggs?

When you are fond of pasta, color is important. We prefer to buy pasta clear and amber yellow, which is associated quite naturally with the amount of eggs per kilo. In fact the yellow index depends on pigments common to the carrot and which are present in semolina from durum wheat. To appetite, research has also been conducted on varieties rich in pigments.

Some cooking tips

So, it will be understood, good pasta, it is first of all good varieties of durum wheat. After that, no need to be an Italian expert. You need a big pan with a lot of salt and boiling water. It’s chemical, the pasta needs to be seized, so that the gluten can coagulate quickly and prevent the starch from spilling into the water, making the pasta soft and sticky. We monitor the cooking time … and enjoy!

How to avoid mistakes of taste?

Before marketing, expert tasters judge the condition of the pasta to be twice as long as the normal cooking time. Pasta should never become sticky and disintegrate. Second test, experts note the color of the raw dough under a standardized supermarket light. Finally, last test, they must taste pasta cooked in a normal time, and this in the dark. They can thus focus on essential qualities for consumers: texture and taste; and give their final mark.

Why durum wheat is not a tender

Durum wheat is grown to make semolina used to make cookies, cakes, couscous and pasta. But can we make in the fields the difference between durum wheat and soft wheat? Yes, when the crops are in spikes. The durum wheat ear is stiffer, more erect, and is bristling with a colorful beard. In addition, durum wheat grains are different from those of soft wheat. They are bigger, denser, more glassy. Otherwise, durum wheat is grown like soft wheat, but not in all regions. It is found mainly in the South, as well as towards the Center and the Paris Basin. France and Greece produce durum wheat, but on surfaces inferior to those cultivated in Italy.

Dr. Kimberly Seltzer

Postdoctoral Scholar, UC Berkeley Research Assistant, MIT

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