Dry pasta

bronze little … Dry pasta

Most dry pasta you eat probably was

Not rolled out.

Rather, it was extruded — meaning they

Pushed to the dough through tiny little holes.

This is a process pioneered on an industrial scale in Naples in the 17th century. That original dried, extruded pasta probably looked something like this, with a rough surface on it. Look under the microscope and you can really see it. The original extruded pasta was rough. Then in the mid 20th century, pasta factories started squirting out spaghetti that looked like this — glassy smooth on the surface, and this is what most pasta on the market looks like today. But lately, people have been getting into the rough stuff again. They say that it holds sauce better.

That's a claim we're going to test later. If you want to test it yourself, you just look for packages that say something like bronze cut or bronze die, something like that. It's usually a little more expensive. The die they're talking about is the piece of metal through which you squeeze the dough, thereby forming the shape. And traditionally that metal was bronze, good old bronze, humanity's first real metal. Yeah, we had copper before that, but copper is super soft, so you can't do very much with it, melt it down and mix it with some tin or some arsenic and you get a metal that is much harder and that is bronze. Better to go with tin probably rather than arsenic for food preparation purposes. Of course, extruded pasta was not invented until the early modern period, at which point they had iron and steel, which are even harder than bronze, but iron is rougher and more prone to corrosion.

Steel too, because stainless had yet to be invented. Die oxidation or corrosion is a big problem in pasta manufacturing because of course the dough is wet. Also, it might be slightly acidic because the dough can ferment a little before you actually squeeze it out, and modern science shows us that bronze dies don't get quite as hot as other metals when they're used for pasta making. "I don't know if people worry about it, but whenever you have friction, you're going to have heat." Dr. Frank Manthey is a legit pasta scientist at North Dakota State University. I just showed you a chapter from a book that he co-wrote. "And at this point, you really don't want heat, not during the extrusion process." . The friction of the dough going through the die transforms into heat, and if too much heat builds up in the metal, it could cook the surface of the pasta as it passes through.

This would result in starch or protein damage, weak spots that could look ugly and cook up all gummy or break, also nutrient loss. Bronze disperses that heat out into its environment a little bit better than other comparable metals. So maybe that's another reason why bronze is king in pasta making. Or it was until after 1938. That's the year when American chemist Roy Plunkett was researching refrigerants at DuPont when he accidentally invented Polytetrafluoroethylene, known by the brand name Teflon. Pasta manufacturers started coating their metal dies, bronze or otherwise in Teflon, and then whoosh. "The extrusion rate is faster if you have the. Teflon die.

So because it's smooth, without the Teflon coating, there is more friction." . But with Teflon, you can press the pasta through faster and time is money in manufacturing, plus it gets you a shiny, smooth product. Consumers like shiny, and.

Teflon die pasta is more resistant to spoilage.

In 2007, these scientists in Milan deliberately contaminated different pasta samples with rice weevils. They let them grow in there for a while. The little bugs seemed to have an easier time penetrating the flaky surface of the bronze die pasta, and they bored their little holes in there and they laid their little eggs. This is the weevil population in the Teflon die pasta, and this is the population in the bronze die pasta.

Yikes. And mind you, that does not mean that all bronze die pasta has weevils in it. It just means that if it does have weevils, it probably has more of them. Why is this stuff hip again? Well, the authors of this Milanese paper note, the rough surface holds more sauce and they've got a citation to prove it. Let's see. Did Pagani at all do an experiment to prove this? Quote, "If a bronze die is used, this gives a rough surface, which according to some consumers is preferable as it enables the pasta to hold the sauce better.". They attribute this claim to folk wisdom not to science, and that's why you always check the primary sources.

That's 134% increase from the dry weight. Now I'm going to stir it in the hot sauce for two minutes. This is the traditional Italian pasta cooking step often forgotten by us Americans. Let the pasta finish cooking in the sauce so that it could absorb some flavor. After two minutes, I will curl up the pasta with a fork and lift it over to a plate on my scale.

The plate is a stand in for my mouth.

I want to measure how much sauce

Is going to make it to its ultimate destination, which is of course my food hole.

We get 151 grams of sauced weight.

That's a 30% increase from the boiled weight. Now we'll repeat the experiment with bronze die spaghetti. I even cooled down my pans, so I'm starting from zero again. One thing I noticed is the boil water is cloudier with the bronze die spaghetti. This is not surprising. Scientists have absolutely shown that flaky rough surface dissolves a little more into the water. You get some modest cooking loss, which you could recover if you use the water in the sauce, but I'm trying to keep my experiment standard today so thoroughly drained. Drained weight is 111 grams as opposed to 117 from before because cooking loss probably.

Toss in the hot sauce for two minutes as before. It occurs to me that if you use some of the cooking water in your sauce, the water from the bronze die pasta might be slightly more gelatinous due to the dissolved starch, and that might result in a slightly thicker sauce that would cling slightly better to the pasta. But that's not what we're testing today. We're just testing how the pasta itself holds onto sauce. And my sauced weight is 148 grams. That's a 33% increase from the boiled weight. We've got a 30% increase with the Teflon pasta and a 33% increase with the bronze die pasta. That's a very, very small difference and could easily be attributable to just random variation.

So let's repeat the experiment except this time. I'm going to start with the same number of strands of pasta, 40 strands. The Teflon spaghetti is slightly narrower, so the weight will be different, but the surface area will be a little closer and I get the same basic results. The increase in weight from the boiled pasta to the sauce pasta is in the low 30% no matter which spaghetti I use. Bronze die pasta does not appear to retain more sauce contrary to popular belief. It's not just me. Dr. Manthey and colleagues have done similar experiments.

"It's not as big as we would've thought. I think it tends towards the rougher the surface a little more, but I think the bigger issue is that the liquid of that sauce is absorbed into that spaghetti. And so then again, we come back to the organoleptic experience, which ultimately is what it's all about." . That's going to be our next channel t-shirt, by the way. Organoleptic experience: what it's all about. He's just talking about how the spaghetti tastes and feels in your mouth. People absolutely can feel the difference in surface texture of bronze die pasta. Lauren prefers that texture and so do I.

That's reason enough to choose it over Teflon pasta, but Dr.

Manthey thinks the rougher surface might also

Absorb a more flavor, and that's a distinct property from retaining sauce on the surface.

We can sort of test this with food coloring. The longer strand is the bronze die pasta, different lengths, so I can tell them apart, the bronze die strand on the left is a little darker in color that could be due to greater absorption, but could also just be the rough surface diffusing light. Let's cut a cross section and look inside. Maybe we see slightly deeper color penetration in the bronze die pasta on the left. I don't know. And color is not a perfect proxy for flavor because different molecules are able to penetrate food structures differently.

Some molecules are small enough to pass through cell membranes and some are too big, that kind of thing. But assuming more flavor penetrated the noodle, you might taste the difference as you bite through it. Lately, when I've been making baked pasta dishes, I have been not boiling the pasta first. I just throw it in, dry with the sauce and then throw it in the oven and when you do that, the noodles actually come out tasting different. You can taste the flavor of the sauce running through the whole noodle. That's perceivable. So, if with bronze die pasta, you get a little more flavor absorption into the sort of surface layers of the pasta itself, maybe that would be perceivable as you bite through it. I don't know.

Or maybe you would just notice that kind of fuzzy surface texture on your tongue. And if you like that, well that's a reason enough to pay a little extra for the bronze die pasta. Just don't tell anyone that it carries more sauce pending further direct scientific investigation of that claim...