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Dried Pasta can be found in almost any american household. They are a great to have in hand when unexpected guest show up. All you need to do is boil it and add some sauce and you have instant dinner. However, there are so many different brands on the market that finding the Best Boxed Dried Pasta can be challenging. They all have subtle difference such as structure, taste and shape. Being able to tell the difference can make a difference in how your pasta turns out.
Best Box Dried Pasta List
Below, you will find a list of some of the Best box dried pasta. Not all of them will have all elements of the best manufacturing process but rather a combination of them.
Martelli Pasta – Best Dried Pasta from Italy
Martelli is one of the few manufacturer that still capture the essence of traditional pasta making. They use one of the best flour around to manufacturer it. The downside to this is that you pay a premium for their dedication to tradition.
Garofalo Spaghetti Pasta (Best Buy Pasta from Italy)
If Martelli is too pricey, then consider Garofalo Spaghetti Pasta. They use a bronze die cast that helps pasta absorbs flavor better. They also use Durum Wheat Semolina flour to improve the texture and flavor of the pasta. You really cannot go wrong with either Garofalo or Martelli.
Barilla (Best Buy Overall)
While those fancy dried box pasta are nice, most cannot be easily found in the supermarket. In this case, Barilla is one of the most well known pasta manufacturer in Italy and America. They produce some of their pasta in America and the quality is still good enough for most people. In terms of price, they are also one of the most affordable.
What Affects the Flavor of Dried Pasta?
While it may seem simple, there are quite a few different things that affects the flavor of pasta. Things like flour, machine and even the water can affect the flavor of the pasta. Perhaps one of the most important thing is the flour, the base of the pasta.
Flour – Durum Semolina
Durum Semolina is a type of flour that is grinded coarse. Its size is very similar to granular sugar. Compared to other type of flours, it has a higher gluten content. When you cook it, it holds on to the water better than other flour. This means more of the pasta sauce gets into the noodles. Additionally the flavor and texture is a bit different. It adds more chew than your traditional pasta. Pasta made from Durum Semolina will have a more yellow appearance than cheaper made pasta. Up until 1967, it was Italian Law that all pasta made from Italy must contain Durum Semolina. However, EU regulation cause this to be changed.
A lower grade of flour used in pasta manufacturing is called Soft Wheat. These flour are milled so fine that its almost a dust. When you boil it, you can see a cloud of starch clouding the pasta water. It also gives pasta a less yellow color. They tend to not hold up as well as Durum Semolina.
Water and Eggs
Water is said to have an effect on the quality of pasta. Different water might have different mineral content based on the region. While you can control the content and composition of water, most dont. I personally dont think it makes that much of a difference. Previous test was done by importing water and no difference in flavor was noticeable.
Traditional hand made pasta are made with eggs. So it might come as a shock that a lot of pasta manufacturer dont even have eggs in their pasta. The flavor that it adds is subtle but noticeable if eaten by itself. Good luck finding one that has eggs in it.
Manufacturing Process of Dried Pasta
How the pasta is kneaded and shaped can affect the overall quality of pasta. Slower kneading of pasta generally generates the best result. This improves the overall gluten content and texture of pasta. Another benefit of a slower kneading is the lower heat. High heat can kill off bacteria that adds flavor to the pasta.
During the shaping of pasta, the dough will be pushed through a die. The die is the shape that the dough gets pressed through. Ultimately, it will affect the pasta that is extruded. Most modern manufacturer will coat their die in teflon to improve the overall life of the die. However, there is a downside to this. Since the teflon is so smooth, the pasta will lack the fine texture and pore of traditional pasta. This means less sauce will be absorb into the pasta. Some manufacturer still use traditional bronze die but those are getting increasingly rare.
The shape of the pasta will also affect the overall texture and how well it holds onto the sauce. Italians have a vast categorization of its different type and its purpose. For example, macaroni will hold onto sauce better than traditional pasta.
How the pasta is dried can affect the flavor as well. Some manufacturer will apply intense heat, other will use a more gentle application. Traditional manufacturer will use sun drying as its technique. Although that is becoming increasingly rare due to time and hygiene reason. The best drying methods are done slowly to preserve the overall flavor and texture. Methods that use a overly high heat will kill off bacteria, flavor and texture.
Best Boxed Dried Pasta Thoughts
Pasta making is a lot more involved that most people think. Some things that you should look after are flour, die cutting process and texture. The best will use Durum Semolina flour and use bronze cut die. Unfortunately you will pay a premium for those pasta. Luckily, most people cant tell the difference so you can always go with barilla. They are a lot easier to find and more affordable to boot.
Like Pasta, then you will love Italian Rice. Check out our article on the Best Italian Rice for Risotto.