Glossary

Glossary of Pastificio dei Campi

Like many other areas, the world of Gragnano pasta has its own specific lexicon, the result of the product's history and the particular characteristics of the region it comes from. Many of the terms used are strongly influenced by the local Campania dialect; others have entered into everyday use. We have created this section of our website in order to satisfy the most curious users and make the vocabulary of our little world accessible to all.

This is the optimum point of pasta cooking, when the centre of the pasta is still uncooked and gives slight resistance, bouncy rather than hard. It literally means "cooked to the point where the teeth still have something to bite". This point also allows the pasta to retain its nutritional and organoleptic qualities unaltered.
This looks like a white powder and it's the organic compound that allows the pasta to absorb water during cooking. Gragnano pasta made with durum wheat semolina has the dual characteristics of retaining its starch during cooking - thanks to its strong gluten structure - while at the same time allowing it to be released slowly on mixing with the sauce, thanks to the bronze die method which makes the surface porous and "arraggiata" or "irritated".
Means "irritation" and refers to the slight roughness that characterises Gragnano pasta and allows it to mix better with the sauce as it releases the necessary amount of starch.
Pasta is a simple, natural and particularly healthy food, because it is low in fat but high in other nutrients, especially carbohydrates and proteins; 100 grammes of pasta without sauce contains just 350 calories (of the 2800 per day needed by an adult male).
If the pasta has not been correctly dried, the surface may display whitish stripes which penetrate the body of the pasta and weaken its structure, causing it to break during cooking. The term given to this phenomenon is bottatura.
Colour is an essential factor for establishing the quality of pasta; this is a test that can easily be done in the shop before purchase. It is important that the colour of the pasta is pale straw-yellow and even, without darker or lighter areas. If the drying process has not been carried out correctly, the surface of the pasta may show brownish-red substances which hinder cooking, or the phenomenon known as bottatura, i.e. whitish marks which penetrate the pasta and weaken its structure. The presence of white spots on the surface, on the other hand, indicates inadequate hydration of the semolina; black spots are a sign of fragments of bran not removed by the grinding process.
Italians consume an average of 28 kg of pasta per person every year, of which 37% in the north, 23% in central Italy and 40% in the south. We are the world's biggest pasta eaters, followed by Venezuela with 13 kg, Tunisia with 11.8 kg and Greece with 10 kg.
A diet that lowers the risk of the so-called wellbeing illnesses (high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, diabetes...); pasta is one of the essential foods in the Mediterranean diet.
The elasticity of pasta - in other words its ability to return to and maintain its original shape - can be tested quickly and accurately. For example, does a pacchero pasta tube "sag" once on the plate, or not? Does spaghetti always stay in strands? Or does it clump together? This characteristic is an indication of good quality gluten and pasta that has rehydrated evenly.
This is one of the crucial stages in pasta production, enabling durum wheat semolina pasta to be dried and ready to be packaged and stored.
Passing the pasta dough through a die plate using intense pressure, to make different shapes of pasta.
One property of pasta is the possibility of giving it the desired shape, since the dough is made from water and durum wheat semolina which - unlike common wheat flour, which is highly elastic - has the ability to retain the "memory of shape".
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, and consists of two proteins: gliadin and glutenin. It determines the robustness, elasticity and ductility of a dough.
A kneading machine used to prepare the mixture of semolina and water.
The variety of wheat used to make the semolina that goes into dried pasta; among other properties it has a higher gluten content than common wheat, and therefore requires more effort during processing, resulting in a dough that assimilates starch better; pasta made from semolina also keeps better than the common wheat flour type.
A wheat protein that deteriorates when the pasta is dried at high temperatures.
Mixing the cooked pasta with the sauce to obtain a creamy consistency, thanks to the amalgamation of starch with the other ingredients.
The operation which reduces cereals to powder (in our case, durum wheat to semolina).
Any pasta made from wheat products with water or egg; these are divided into dried and fresh pastas. Gragnano dried pastas do not contain egg.
The Consortium for the protection of Pasta di Gragnano I.G.P. covers 98% of the area's production in terms of both volume and turnover. The 11 pasta factories in Gragnano produce 227,500 tonnes per year, approximately 7% of national output. Furthermore, Gragnano pasta makes up about 10% of exports of Italian pasta. .
Cooking pasta is an exceedingly simple operation. All you need is knowledge of three essential factors: salt, water and cooking time. We recommend 1 litre of water with 10 grammes of salt for every 100 grammes of dried pasta. The basic rule is not to add salt once the pasta is in. Why? Adding the pasta (i.e. something cold) to the boiling water causes the temperature to fall and the water to go off the boil. So the best time to salt the water is before adding the pasta, when the water comes to the boil.
Die
A plate with holes of various shapes and sizes used to obtain different pasta shapes; this may be made of bronze or teflon. The production guidelines for Gragnano I.G.P. pasta stipulate the use of bronze dies.
These are used traditionally in the production of Gragnano I.G.P. pasta; a synonym of quality as bronze dies give the pasta a rough surface which allows the sauce to coat the pasta better. By extruding the pasta slowly through the die, excessive heating is avoided, and the pasta does not begin to cook, preventing the Maillard reaction (caramelisation of sugars) in the starch. Pasta produced in this way retains its organoleptic properties and its natural porousness, allowing a correct release of starch which is not possible in pasta made using teflon dies. The disadvantage of bronze dies is that they are difficult to use and consequently slow down the production process.
These make the extrusion of pasta faster and result in a smoother, yellower pasta, less able to mix with the sauce.