Pasta-Making Process: History
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Pasta is an increasingly popular food worldwide and different formulations have been developed to improve its nutritional profile.  When alternative raw materials are used, an understanding of the relationship between processing variables and pasta quality is crucial in order to optimize the redesign of the production process. 

  • pasta making
  • pasta
  • cooking quality

1. Introduction

Pasta is one of the most common and popular staple foods thanks to its sensory and nutritional value, convenience, and versatility [1]. It is reported that about 14.3 million tons of pasta are produced annually worldwide. The main producer is Italy, followed by the United States, Brazil, Turkey, and Russia. Italians are the main pasta consumers, with 23.1 kg per capita per year, followed by Tunisians (17 kg), Venezuelans (12 kg) and Greeks (11.4 kg) [2]. According to Italian law, “dried pasta” must be produced with water and durum wheat (Triticum durum Desf.) (i.e., semolina, coarse semolina, or wholemeal semolina) [3]. Although in the rest of the world (except for France and Greece) common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) can be used for pasta production, it is well-known that only durum semolina can assure the best product quality, in terms of dough rheological properties, cooking quality and consumer acceptance [4][5]
Pasta plays a key role in the Mediterranean Diet. WHO (the World Health Organization) and FAO (the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) described pasta as a healthy, sustainable, and quality food model. Moreover, in 2010, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) declared pasta an intangible cultural heritage of humanity [6]. One of the main reasons for the success of pasta is its nutritional profile. Indeed, pasta generally is very nutritious, due to its low amount of fats and readily digestible carbohydrates [7]. Moreover, pasta can supply healthy components, such as fibre or prebiotics [8][9]. The low cost and long shelf life of pasta make it popular with many diverse groups of consumers [10]
Despite pasta have been extensively studied in the last decades, the following section summarized the main knowledge gaps related to pasta-making process. 

2. Knowledge Gaps and Perspectives

Since each step in the pasta-making process impacts on the quality of the final product, it is extremely important to know how process variables and pasta properties relate in order to better predict and control product quality. The first steps of the pasta-making process—hydration of semolina and shaping of the dough by extrusion under pressure or roll-sheeting—have so far received less attention than the drying phase. The greater interest in the latter is justified by the modifications (which are well known and quantified) induced by temperatures above 60 °C on both proteins and starch properties and their great impact on pasta quality at both sensory (e.g., texture) and nutritional (e.g., heat damage) levels. A second reason for the apparent minor interest in the hydration and shaping phases is linked to the difficulties that their monitoring entails. In fact, the low humidity (between 30 and 32%) of the mixing system and, consequently, its low degree of smoothness inside the press, makes it difficult to study dough behavior during extrusion. Moreover, the mixture is uneven in temperature and viscosity; these differences can be found not only at the entry of the cylinder towards the die but also at the cross section of the cylinder (in fact, the mass near the walls of the cylinder is colder and with higher consistency than the mass closer to the core of the screw).
Finally, to further complicate observations, process variables (first of all the extrusion pressure) are affected by dough properties (i.e., moisture, temperature, viscosity) and any change in one of the processing variables influences all the others in an interdependent way. In other words, when a parameter changes, the system responds in a very complex way. A further aspect regards the high degree of heterogeneity of extrusion systems due to their different specifications (geometry and pitch of the screw, single- or twin-screw extruder, etc.) that could have different repercussions on the workability of the mixture and on the characteristics of the finished product. Finally, there are no studies evaluating the effect of mechanical and structural changes (for example, screw geometry, single- or twin-screw extruder, etc.) on pasta quality.
Moreover, among the studies focusing on the extrusion step, none associates process conditions with the nutritional quality of the finished product, in terms of digestibility and/or the formation of resistant starch. This aspect is left to the reformulation of the product using modified starches or raw materials rich in amylose. 
Further gaps come from the pasta quality evaluation side. Most of the studies aimed at understanding the relationship between processing conditions and pasta quality assessed the quality of the final products by evaluating changes in color, cooking loss and texture evaluated by instrumental analysis rather than sensory analysis. Besides requiring less time for the analysis, other factors account for the preference of instrumental tests: (1) a sensory evaluation testing facility should be set up to minimize the interactions occurring between participants; (2) consumer-based sensory evaluation measures liking of foods and requires large numbers of individuals; and (3) descriptive analysis requires trained tasters to evaluate the intensities of attributes found in foods.
Finally, most of the studies devoted to understanding the relationships between process conditions and pasta quality considered only semolina as the raw material to be used. Although it is easy to understand the reasons for this choice, worldwide (with the exception of Italy, France and Greece) hard wheat flour is the main raw material used for dry pasta. Indeed, it is widely available and less expensive than durum wheat. However, despite the great interest in describing the bread-making performance of common wheat, it is still unknown what features common wheat should have and what processing parameters should be adopted to obtain dried pasta of desirable quality.

This entry is adapted from the peer-reviewed paper 10.3390/foods11030256


  1. Giacco, R.; Vitale, M.; Riccardi, G. Pasta: Role in diet. In The Encyclopedia of Food and Health; Caballero, B., Finglas, P., Toldrá, F., Eds.; Elsevier Ltd.: Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2016; pp. 242–245.
  2. IPO. The World Pasta Industry Status Report—International Pasta Organization. 2014. Available online: (accessed on 5 May 2021).
  3. Decreto del Presidente della Repubblica n.146. Regolamento per la revisione della normativa sulla produzione e commercializzazione di sfarinati e paste alimentari, a norma dell’articolo 50 della legge 22 febbraio 1994. Gazz. Uff. 2001, 117, 6–12.
  4. Sissons, M. Role of durum wheat composition on the quality of pasta and bread. Food 2008, 2, 75–90.
  5. Padalino, L.; Mastromatteo, M.; Lecce, L.; Spinelli, S.; Contò, F.; Del Nobile, M.A. Effect of durum wheat cultivars on physico-chemical and sensory properties of spaghetti. J. Sci. Food Agric. 2014, 94, 2196–2204.
  6. Giannetti, V.; Mariani, M.B.; Marini, F.; Biancolillo, A. Effects of thermal treatments on durum wheat pasta flavour during production process: A modelling approach to provide added-value to pasta dried at low temperatures. Talanta 2021, 225, 121955.
  7. Dello Russo, M.; Spagnuolo, C.; Moccia, S.; Angelino, D.; Pellegrini, N.; Martini, D. Nutritional Quality of Pasta Sold on the Italian Market: The Food Labelling of Italian Products (FLIP) Study. Nutrients 2021, 13, 171.
  8. Angelino, D.; Martina, A.; Rosi, A.; Veronesi, L.; Antonini, M.; Mennella, I.; Vitaglione, P.; Grioni, S.; Brighenti, F.; Zavaroni, I.; et al. Glucose- and lipid-related biomarkers are affected in healthy obese or hyperglycemic adults consuming a whole-grain pasta enriched in prebiotics and probiotics: A 12-week randomized controlled trial. J. Nutr. 2019, 149, 1714–1723.
  9. Ciccoritti, R.; Taddei, F.; Nicoletti, I.; Gazza, L.; Corradini, D.; D’Egidio, M.G.; Martini, D. Use of bran fractions and debranned kernels for the development of pasta with high nutritional and healthy potential. Food Chem. 2017, 225, 77–86.
  10. Oliviero, T.; Fogliano, V. Food design strategies to increase vegetable intake: The case of vegetable enriched pasta. Trends Food Sci. Technol. 2016, 51, 58–64.
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