Author Topic: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?  (Read 348 times)

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Offline DaleReid

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Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« on: April 19, 2022, 08:36:06 PM »
I'm not sure where else to turn to in order to ask this question.

Today I was to pick up some whole wheat penne for making an Italian dish tonight.  I was bewildered by all the various forms of shells, tubes, with and without ridges and sizes, 90 vs. 45 degree cuts of those tubes.

Shells are one thing, as are the folded over sometimes cheese filled things that some people make.

But if you went to the pasta section in the store and other than whole wheat vs. white pasta, is there any difference in the base material that say penne, mostachholi, rigotoni, and every other hollow round thing is made of?  Are they all the same dough, just extruded differently to hold onto the sauce differently, or be stuffed if the hole is big enough?

Just curious.
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Offline Jasiu

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2022, 07:04:00 AM »
Flour and eggs, a bit of water and salt is the basic recipe. You can read the ingredients list to see what else a particular manufacturer uses.

Offline drrehak

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2022, 07:33:25 AM »
You're talking about "pasta secca" or dried pasta.  Two ingredients: water, flour.
Can add things like spinach, carrot, squid ink, tomato, ... to get the colored varieties.  All extruded through dies.  Key to quality is the die material - bronze provides better surface texture with less wear.  The semolina flour comes from durum wheat - source, extraction, processing, ... and specific protein level are critical.

Pasta fresca or fresh pasta has eggs, flour.
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Offline DaleReid

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2022, 08:06:34 AM »
 Goodness, I had no idea!

I see these cool looking machines that you run pasta dough through to make flat noodles, and wondered if the result, being non-dried, would cook faster and if there is a difference in taste?

I have been amazed at how little changes in the way things are done can have a marked effect on the end product.

Thanks for the information.  I apparently have reading to do, but with your replies I have more key words to put into DuckDuckGo.
Dale
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Offline drrehak

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2022, 08:13:45 AM »
Yes, fresh will cook much faster, and will taste different -- especially if you add eggs.
And unless you do a lot of flour research and go to a specialty mill, you won't be able to get the same flour.  Even the typical "all purpose" you get in the store and any semolina flour will be much different in fresh pasta.
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Offline zoomx

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2022, 04:35:07 PM »
In Italy pasta is made of durum wheat flour(Triticum durum "grano duro" in italian) and water, nothing else.
There are few exception due to the tradition in the north of Italy that doesn't had durum wheat, so for tortellini is used wheat flour (Triticum aestivum, "grano tenero" in italian). Since it is no good to cook  it (it easily overcook and pasta breaks easily) as pasta you have to add egg.
The ingredients are the same if you buy it (dried pasta) or you made it in house.
Not all durum wheats are good for making pasta and it varies depending of year, one year can be good, the other not good. So in industry they mix durum wheats from different sources.

Offline DaleReid

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2022, 06:40:35 PM »
I'm learning more than I knew existed about this.

Thanks for the detailed discussions and leading those non-ag folks like me along.

I assume the wheat types and even within a kind of wheat, are sort of like say strawberries or apples.  They are still apples but two things, one is that there are variations from one to another (A Macintosh tastes different from say a Honeycrisp), and two, from year to year even the same plant can produce a different quality product (I'm not a wine drinker but I assume this is why they say that "1998 was a very good year", or that the raspberries I love can be just ok, or amazing in flavor.)

The comment that a few Italian pastas are just and only water and flour.

Is there a difference in the quality or flavor or drying effect based on how the water and flour are measured, and then mixed?  Does, for wild example, a cup of water into 2 cups of flour come out different than if you put 1 and  a third cups of water into that same 2 cups of flour?  I'd assume no effect, but just asking.

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Offline drrehak

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2022, 09:02:44 PM »
Flour is a really complex thing.  Not only variety, but how fine the grind is and how much of the kernel is left (extraction).  For example, here's a mill in central IL that offers a lot of  varieties of wheat flours, I think you could find an artisanal mill close to you.  Looks like they currently have 16 varieties of flour.  https://www.janiesmill.com/collections/shop

When using flour, most professional baking recipes work by weight and % of flour.  So a recipe will say 100% flour, 60% water, 2% salt, 1% yeast..., so for 100g of flour you add 60 g of water.  Each specific recipe has a different % water which controls hydration, which is not only based on flour, but on how it is mixed (which builds more/less gluten) and how it is rested.  Relative humidity also is a factor.  I have bread recipes that vary from 60 to 80% water,, but I may need more/less based on the day. 

So you can't really mess with the % or how it is to be added, wait times, temperatures, etc. to get a consistent result.  There's a forum like WX just devoted to flours and baking.  And if you are buying any flour in the US from a name brand it will be different from any other name brand and will be a mix of wheats to get consistent results for a typical home user. 
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Offline zoomx

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Re: Is the basic material in various pastas all the same?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2022, 09:17:44 AM »
The comment that a few Italian pastas are just and only water and flour.
I was bad in explaining.
Most pasta in Italy is done using only durum wheat and water. In Italy because there is a law (ok , actually it was modified and it is allowed max 3% of wheat), I don't know if italian pasta made for other countries is made only of durum wheat. Only in few types of pasta wheat (and eggs) is allowed, because of tradition in northern Italy where in the past durum wheat was not available or expensive.

 

anything