Good pasta: the 3 most important criteria

We Germans love Italian pasta dishes. And let’s be honest: sometimes we feel half Italian when we have the best pasta in the kitchen and drink a glass of red wine while cooking. So if the noodles should still be as in osteria around the corner, which will be the crowning glory. But somehow it always tastes a little better at your favorite restaurant? It can be quality. But how do I know good pasta? The trick is simple: look closely three times and you’ll recognize them as Italian expertly.

How do I recognize good pasta – the three most important criteria

Pasta is made from durum wheat gum and water and then dried. In fact, there should not be much wrong in the production, a No Brainer, one might think. So why is there such a big difference in quality? As is often the case, it’s in the details. In general, the quality of the pasta depends on the quality of the grain used, the hardness of its surface and the way it is dried. You don’t need lab equipment to judge this, just a little eye training. Before we begin, we have some great recipes:

I always say: This is the third love of a child: First comes the mother, then the father, and then the pasta.

1. Grain quality

While soft wheat is used for bread and pastries, pasta is traditionally made from durum wheat. Compared to common wheat, it has a significant protein content and a high carbohydrate content, but much less dietary fiber. Last but not least, it tolerates a lot of sun in cultivation and needs little water, so it thrives especially well in southern Italy.

The finished grain is milled like flour, only much coarser, resulting in semolina. However, there are also quality differences with durum wheat. In addition to 70 percent carbohydrates, each grain contains an unexpected amount of protein. So how do I know good pasta? Stick to this rule of thumb: The higher the protein content, the better the grain. Cheap supermarket pasta has 12 to 12.8 percent protein, while quality pasta has 14 to 14.5 percent protein, a 20 percent increase! You can easily find out how much this is from the nutritional information on the back of the package.

fun fact: It comes on the package Pasta specials advertised, this is not a promise of quality, on the contrary: with such products, the manufacturer is allowed to follow a higher rate of cheaper soft wheat.

“I owe everything you see to spaghetti.”

Sophia Loren, Italian film actress

2. Facial hardness

How do I know good pasta? Very simple: If your homemade sauce goes so perfectly with al dente cooked spaghetti, you’re on the safe side. If you can then roll the two components as a single whole, you are in pasta heaven.

A small selection of nozzles. Aren’t they beautiful? Photo: Shutterstock / Luca Lorenzelli

When cooked, this consistency ensures that the sauce adheres to the pasta. It is different with cheap industrial pasta: here the rod is coated with Teflon, so the extruder can produce a lot more pasta at the same time with less pressure, which is cheaper and promises profit. Unfortunately, the noodle produced this way is almost perfect and allows the sauce to ooze out as if it were itself coated with Teflon.

“Life is a mixture of magic and pasta”

Federico FelliniItalian director (1920-1993)

3. Drying the pasta

Have you ever made your own pasta and then dried it on your drying rack or on floured kitchen towels? This is how professional producers do it, only in XXL. And because time is money, a long dry season is a cost to avoid.

So straight into the convection oven and baked pasta within an hour? This is how cheap manufacturers do it, which gives the food a weak structure, even worse adhesion of the sauce, as well as an unnaturally dark, almost orange color. For manufacturers who care about quality, this process takes 24 to 36 hours. This makes the noodles more expensive, but significantly better.

Conclusion: How do I know good pasta?

It’s really hard to believe. The chefs discuss each ingredient as well as the viscosity of the sauce. But what about the pasta itself? Just follow these steps and you are on the safe side.

  1. You hold a package in your hand and first of all check the protein content. If this is between 14 and 14.5 percent, it is perfect.
  2. Your second and third glance is at the pasta itself: If it’s light yellow with white flakes and a crisp surface, you’re happy. However, if it is dark yellow to almost orange and also as soft as the proverbial children’s underwear, you have a cheap industrial product in front of you. So don’t believe the flowery marketing slogans à la when shopping traditional or molto specialsbut only your trained eye.
  3. And pasta doesn’t have to be absolutely expensive: the big supermarket chains also offer pasta under their own brands, which, for example, have a topping. Ahlat or Don’t cry carrying Unexpectedly large pastries are often hidden there prodotto in Italy at really cheap prices! If you then obey our standards, nothing will go wrong. Our tip: bring an extra pack…

Visit our cooking school. We have more tips and tricks from the professional Italian kitchen. Enjoy browsing:

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