An Agricultural Pasta Factory is an amazing place, where farmers not only cultivate wheat, but transforms it into fresh pasta, dried pasta, or gluten-free alternatives.
Today, producing pasta on a farm isn’t difficult, as long as you use the right tools and can rely on a company that has been designing and building pasta-making machines and factories for over 60 years.
The difference lies in the adjective “agricultural”, because that really is what sets it apart from an artisanal pasta factory or an industrial pasta factory. An agricultural pasta factory not only produces pasta, it’s also where the wheat is cultivated.?
Acres of acres of land dedicated to cultivating wheat and legumes surround the facilities that house the pasta machines. These farms may cultivate a wide range of raw materials: grains like wheat, farro, or kamut, for example, or legumes like beans, peas, chickpeas, and lentils.
Producing good pasta requires excellent ingredients, which result from cultivating grains in the appropriate soil, under suitable organoleptic and climactic conditions, and with a particular method of farming, because the soil doesn’t accommodate all crops in the same way. It also depends on the perfect combination of the various grains that make up the flour and the right recipe for obtaining high-quality pasta.
Every grain or legume crop has its own character and its own story, and differs in terms of size, color, gluten content, protein content, and productive potential. Each crop is known to have its own cycle, whether early or late, and an ideal exposure, needs, strengths, and weaknesses.
We know that wheat can not only have beautiful, poetic names like Maestà, Levante, and Nazareno, but it can also be identified by codes or scientific labels if the wheat is an experimental strain, or by funny or symbolic names chosen by people who had high hopes for that variety.
Experience has shown us that we need to give the soil time to regenerate after a full year of alternating between wheat crops and sunflower or alfalfa crops. To sum up, producing excellent pasta means carefully selecting, observing, and “coddling” the raw materials.
The love that goes into each aspect of the pasta production process is the first thing that sets an agricultural pasta factory apart from the rest. A true passion for pasta production.?
The Collaralli Agricultural pasta factory in Abruzzo is one example of a new, latest-generation production site.
During a blind taste test of three types of pasta, differences in color, consistency, and porosity were noted between the pastas.?Where does these variations come from? In addition to what we’ve already said about raw ingredients, there are also technical production aspects to take into account.
Industrial pasta is drawn using teflon, and is then dried on conveyor belt tunnels at very high temperatures, around 80°C. Artisanal pasta is drawn using bronze, and is usually dried using static dryers, at low temperatures, for about 14-16 hours depending on the shape.
Start by touching it. Artisanal pasta is rougher, meaning it holds sauces better.
Then observe the color and note that it is lighter, less yellow, and less uniform from year to year, depending on the blend of wheat used, which may vary. Finally, taste it. Artisanal pasta is “meatier”, more toothsome, absorbs sauces, and keeps its shape longer after cooking.
Between production, packaging, and administrative offices, an agricultural pasta factory can employ from 4 to 10 people.
What’s impressive is how many young people, many of them under thirty years old, have a great deal of enthusiasm and desire to learn and grow while transforming companies.
Their parents and grandparents have been farmers for decades. Now, the time has come to change, transform, and reach new markets with their products, and start producing “slow food” pasta.
There are many examples of young people getting closer to the land:
• those who studied and worked abroad and have decided to return to their native land,
• those who put a lot of effort and motivation into learning production, packaging, and marketing.
• those who transformed a small, family-owned farm into a solid, international-level company.
Today, there are many public, regional, and national programs to help aspiring young entrepreneurs turn their dreams into first-class agricultural realities. One of the main tools for opening an agricultural pasta factory is European support and financing for launching new businesses on the national level.
Opening an agricultural pasta factory?
How many times have you savored a delicious plate of whole wheat pasta and wondered if you could produce it in your own farm
Behind this amazing product, with its wonderful shapes and intense flavors, there are farms that have passed on this tradition of passion and hard, hard work for generations.
We offer a solution that focuses around developing your own pasta factory. Starting a new adventure with a pasta producer with over 20 years of experience at your side ensures you’ll be off to a good start.
Milling the grain or legume is a purely physical operation, which is made up of three main phases: washing, conditioning, and the milling itself. The washing phase serves to remove extraneous mineral or vegetable matter (other grain kernels, straw, etc.).
Conditioning involves soaking the grains so that the water makes the kernels easier to break up and facilitates the separation of the external chaff from the starchy interior.
The milling phase involves processing the grain through a series of grindstones (either actual stones or grooved rolling cylinders) which break up the kernel. At this point, the particles of various sizes are sifted and then transported into containers.
Using mill stones can result in excellent dark flours, like “type 1” and “type 2” flours. These flours differ from similar flours that are milled with cylinder rollers because stone-milled flours always have lower humidity levels.
In fact, stone mills can be only be used to mill grains with a lower level of humidity than those that can be milled with cylinder rollers, and furthermore, they have a significant influence on the product in terms of overheating.
For this reason, one of the fastest ways to find out if a flour was truly stone-milled is to check its humidity levels, which generally should be one or two points lower compared to cylinder-ground flour.
The semolina is placed in the dough-mixing bowl and soaked in a precise amount of cold water: sometimes eggs are added for making egg pasta, or aromatics (like spinach or tomato) are added for flavored pasta. The resulting mixture should have the texture of wet sand, and be as homogeneous as possible. It’s important for every single grain of semolina to absorb the right amount of water.
The mixing phase is extremely sensitive and should take several minutes, taking care to follow a series of steps that are complex but necessary for achieving a good product.
The pasta is drawn through a bronze die, which is a circular mould, to create all the different shapes seen in stores. As soon as the pasta exits the die, it is aired out to allow the outer layer to dry, which prevents the pasta from breaking or sticking to itself.
The length of the shape is adjusted with blades that slice the pasta as soon as it exits the die. Long shapes must be placed to dry on rods, forming the typical “U” shape that is then sliced where it curves.
The pasta is immediately prepared for packaging, which involves to the complete drying of the pasta in a series of phases: the outside of the finished pasta must dry right away, in order for the shape and length to stabilize.
The pasta is inserted into the appropriate static dryers, so that it dries completely within 12 to 18 hours, without ever being exposed to excessive temperatures. Temperatures should never exceed 45°C, which would alter the pasta’s nutritional quality.
The finished product then undergoes a final, “resting” or stabilization phase (remaining in the “drying cells” for about another 10 hours), before being packaged and delivered to store shelves, and from there, to our tables.
Participating in a dried pasta professional training course is a great opportunity for anybody interested in opening a pasta factory in their own farm. Our teachers are former pasta-makers with years of experience, who will teach you everything you need to know to dive into this wonderful business, which is currently enjoying a boom period.