Submitted to: Cereal Chemistry
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/14/2017
Publication Date: 9/15/2017
Publication URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/5806751
Citation: Murray, J.C., Kiszonas, A., Morris, C.F. 2017. Pasta production: complexity in defining processing conditions for reference trials and quality assessment models. Cereal Chemistry. 94:791-797.
Interpretive Summary: Pasta is one of the most popular and widely recognized foods in the world. Dried pasta is easy to store, simple to cook, and can be paired with an endless array of sauces and flavorings. Most consumers consider pasta to have Italian origins, however historians are still debating the true origins of pasta. Whether pasta originated in China, the Middle East, Italy, or some other location, it is now a truly international food. For a food made of only two ingredients, durum (Triticum turgidum subsp. durum) semolina and water, there are a remarkable number of factors contributing to the final pasta quality. Cereal and food scientists have been studying pasta quality for nearly 100 years, and their studies have evolved along with the advances in technology used to produce pasta. Despite the many advances in technology used to produce commercial pasta it is still a simple food; and it all starts with durum wheat. Pasta is popular due to its low cost, ease of preparation, and versatility. However, studies examining the production and quality of pasta are not nearly as effortless. Due to a lack of standardized equipment and methods utilized for the production and drying of laboratory scale pasta, it is nearly impossible to accurately compare data among labs. Additionally, the standard production methods which do exist are so rarely utilized so as to make them virtually obsolete. The AACCI Approved Methods for pasta quality and color are better established, though they cover only a small portion of the pasta attributes of interest. The AACCI Pasta Products Analysis Committee is currently working to develop improved laboratory scale pasta production and analysis methods. New approved pasta production methods and standardized equipment would contribute greatly to the scientific study of pasta processing and quality.
Technical Abstract: Pasta is a simple food made from water and durum wheat (Triticum turgidum subsp. durum) semolina. As pasta increases in popularity, studies have endeavored to analyze the attributes that contribute to high quality pasta. Despite being a simple food, the laboratory scale analysis of pasta quality is a complex process. Spaghetti is the most commonly studied form of pasta as its long uniform shape lends itself well to analysis. Pasta production at a laboratory scale is not standardized, leading to large amounts of variation due to differing equipment and protocols. Pasta production protocols vary in their target moisture content, mixing profile, extrusion die material, and spaghetti diameter. Once pasta is extruded the equipment and protocols used to dry the pasta at the laboratory scale are far from consistent. Measurement of pasta quality parameters are also lacking in updated standardized methods, making it difficult to compare pasta quality data among labs. AACCI is actively working to develop an improved method for laboratory scale pasta production and analysis via the Pasta Products Analysis Committee. This review summarizes the equipment, protocols, and methods utilized in pasta quality studies.