Pasta is one of the best-known foods in the world. Italians take it seriously, with more than 300 different types of pasta and 1,300 names to call them by. Pasta is a food that’s been around for more than 50 years now, not including when it was invented. And while this national food may need some innovation, there are rules to make sure we’re making quality pasta (thanks to the 55-year-old “pasta law”.)
A group of Italian scientists recently came up with a new way to package fresh pasta so that it stays fresh for 30 days. In this process, bioprotective probiotic cultures are applied to the dough. The novel packaging method was just published in Frontiers in Microcultures.
What is the difference between dry pasta and fresh pasta?
Dry pasta is made of semolina flour, water, and salt. Fresh pasta is made from all-purpose flour or 00 flour that contains 12% gluten, eggs, and moisture. This type of pasta has more water in it than dry pasta which means it spoils faster and should be refrigerated. Since dry pasta doesn’t have any moisture in it, it can be stored for a long time at room temperature. But fresh pasta should be refrigerated because it’s moist making it more prone to spoilage and must be kept refrigerated so it will last longer. It takes half the time to cook this form of noodles as dried.
How is fresh pasta conventionally produced and stored?
Almost all pasta goes through an industrial process that includes heat treatment, which is the equivalent of pasteurization. Once it’s ready, it’s stored in modified atmospheric packaging, which uses a plastic film to remove the oxygen and replace it with gases like nitrogen and carbon dioxide to extend the shelf life.
Problems associated with the storage of fresh pasta.
Refrigerating fresh pasta can help increase its shelf life to between 30 and 90 days. Even if fresh pasta is refrigerated, several factors can impact the quality of the pasta. For example, if conditions are favorable for bacteria (such as excessive moisture), some bacteria might not be killed by heat treatment.
For many consumers, legal chemical preservatives are not the favored choice. There are many customers who prefer natural and clean products with no artificial ingredients. For them, there is a limited number of ways to maintain freshness for dry pasta.
This is the perfect recipe for the pasta to last longer.
Researchers have developed a new “clean label” method to help inhibit microbial growth. First, the researchers changed the proportion of gases in “modified atmospheric packaging” and the combination of plastic films used in the packaging to better control microbes. Secondly, they added a multi-strain probiotic mix to inhibit bacteria.
First, the scientists tested a new manufacturing protocol using a type of short pasta noodle called trofie. They made and packaged three sets of fresh pasta. One set was stored in the usual way, another set was made and kept in an experimental package with a different atmosphere, and the third set included probiotic strains that protect the body.
The first set of data was then stored in the control package. After this, the scientists waited for their time to run out.
How does the new recipe work?
A few months later, the researchers used high-tech methods like gene sequencing to find out what kinds of microorganisms were in the water and mass spectrometry to find out what kinds of volatile organic compounds were in the water. Mass spectrometry is an analytical method for measuring the ratio of mass to charge of one or more molecules in a sample. The study found that the trofie pasta with antimicrobial bioprotective probiotics in the experimental modified atmospheric packaging had the longest shelf life of the three experiments.
According to Dr. Francesca De Leo, one of the paper’s authors, (The results demonstrate that modified atmosphere packaging, along with spray-dried probiotic bioprotective cultures acted synergistically to control microbial spoilage of fresh pasta during refrigerated storage.)
This new Pasta recipe will help fight food waste.
Dr. Leo said that her new paste-making techniques would not only save money for the farmers but would also add an extra 30 days of shelf life to the product, making it more attractive for industrial use.
Consumers may enjoy the long shelf life and easy storage of this product, which may help them decrease the frequency of their food purchases.
On average, about one-third of all food produced is wasted. When it comes to storing pasta, Dr. Leo said that the value of the research extends beyond finding a better way to store pasta longer by helping reduce food waste.
Dr. Leo was quoted as saying that food waste and loss have a big effect on the ecological and environmental sustainability of the food system and that innovative technological solutions to stop food waste can help get rid of these problems. To become a reality, companies must be willing to accept the challenge and innovate.