How We Make Pasta
Using the finest ingredients and state-of-the-art equipment, Zerega makes over 300 pasta shapes and partners with major food companies to develop and produce new pastas. Here's how:
To make our high-quality pasta, we start with the finest ingredients. Durum wheat, a hard wheat grown primarily in the Upper Midwest and Canada, is milled to produce the golden semolina and durum flour used in all of our pasta. Whole wheat, organic semolina, and hard-spring wheat are also used in some of our custom products.
Dried egg yolks, whole eggs, and egg whites are used in egg noodle and macaroni products specially designed for food service and prepared-foods applications. Egg noodles must contain 5.5% egg solids to meet the Federal Standards of Identity. Additional ingredients can include dried vegetable powders and natural flavorings and seasonings for flavored pastas, and processing aids like wheat gluten and emulsifiers.
Finally, most Zerega pasta is enriched with iron and B vitamins, including folic acid, as specified by the Federal Standards of Identity. We also produce unenriched pasta for "all natural applications".
Making the Shapes
Most pasta is made via a continuous extrusion process. Semolina and water are mixed into a dough, then kneaded in an extruder before finally being forced through a forming plate or "die" to create the shape. The extrusion dies are equipped with either bronze inserts to impart a rough, artisanal appearance or through Teflon coated inserts to provide a smoother, more translucent appearance for enhanced eye appeal.
Long goods like spaghetti and fettuccine are made by hanging the extruded pasta on rods to convey them through the drying process. Short goods, like elbows and penne, travel on conveyor belts during the drying process.
Egg noodles can be made two different ways. For a curlier, bright yellow and smooth appearance, we extrude noodles through Teflon coated dies. For a more homemade-style pasta, we produce sheeted (laminated) noodles the traditional way where dough is rolled and folded before being slit and cut to the desired length.
Specialty shapes such as bow ties, farfalle and orecchiette are made by stamping the shapes out of a sheet of dough. Other specialty shapes such as jumbo shells and manicotti are produced with specially-made extrusion dies and gently handled through special drying and packaging lines.
Drying the Pasta
Proper drying is critical in the pasta-making process. Pasta is dried slowly as it travels through a continuous drying chamber for 3 to 10 hours, depending on the pasta shape. Exact control is maintained over temperature, humidity, and air flow and each shape is dried according to very specific parameters. Once dried, the pasta has 12% moisture content. It's then cooled and is ready to package.