The differences between a premium and low-end pasta are important and often this gap is underestimated both on consumer and professional side. Let’s be simple, clear and brief about that and identify what really makes a premium pasta.
1) RAW MATERIAL: It probably appears obvious but the raw material is the first step of any production and without premium raw material there won’t be any premium output. It’s better to immediately state that Italian pasta has to be produced only by DURUM WHEAT FLOUR, and the Government strictly control over this aspect.
2) SEMOLINA: When we talk about durum wheat flour it’s also important to understand that from the durum wheat milling, different quality levels of flour can be obtained: the top one is called SEMOLINA and it’s the flour used to produce pasta, then we have SEMOLATO also used to produce pasta at a lower level followed by the normal flour ( for bread ) and 2 more kind of flour used for non-human consumption.
3) BRONZE / TEFLON EXTRUSION: at the end of the production line the pasta-producers may invest huge amount of money in a bronze die plate that gives to pasta a rough and porous surface allowing pasta to better keep the cooking and most important to properly absorb any sauce VS a cheap and life-lasting Teflon plate leaving the pasta smooth and far from the coarse effect obtained from bronze die extraction.
4) LOW TEMPERATURE / HIGH TEMPERATURE DRYING : pasta comes from dough, which is prepared mixing flour and water and so at the end of the production line is wet and has to be dried. In an industrial environment, there basically are 2 ways to finalize this process, a low-temperature/product-respectful way and a high-temperature/burning-product method. The final output is completely different and it’s visually immediate to identify premium and low-end pasta.
There are tons of other differences between a premium product and an average-low-end one but these are the most important and intuitive. You want to know something more about these aspects and how a real premium brand manages all this?
This is what De Cecco, the number one high-end pasta producer in the world, does:
– Raw material: De Cecco is selecting the best raw material since 1886 and no other producer can ensure more stability and top quality in this aspect. Before grinding the wheat is tested at any level of the supply chain and must pass the most strict and rigorous laboratory test to arrive on consumer plates.
– Semolina: De Cecco only use Semolina flour for its production, very coarse grain in order to maintain the central part of the wheat and an extremely high gluten index. De Cecco only uses <65% of the wheat, while average-low-end producers are above 90%.
– Bronze die: no need to say that the production is fully on Bronze die.
– Low temperature drying: the drying process in De Cecco can take till 36 hours, 3 to 5 times the time required for a low-end producer to complete this process. The respect of the product result in an output that basically has the same white color of the flour used to produce it.
– The X Factor: De Cecco prepares its dough with pure cold spring water , at a temperature less than 15° to ensure a perfect maintenance of protein level. As stated, the water is natural spring water as the factory is based in the amazing location of National Park, Parco della Maiella, a unique and uncontaminated venue.
When you eat Italian pasta, think about these points: it’s very easy to claim to be a premium brand, but as a matter of fact only few can be really identified as what they claim to be.
Now you know why.
Keep eating only the top !