University of Milano - Articles and news items
Issue 6 2010 • 15 December 2010 • Maria Ambrogina Pagani, Professor of Cereal Technology, University of Milan
Pasta, the Italian food par excellence, is one of the most interesting products obtained from wheat. Dried pasta has a long shelf-life before being cooked, thanks to its low water content and highly compact texture. Its macromolecules have exceptional hydrating capacities which enable it to increase its weight two-fold and acquire a palatable structure when cooked in boiling water while maintaining a high structural compactness. This property allows starch to be slowly digested, thus ensuring the product a low Glycemix Index despite its high carbohydrate content1. Pasta can then be combined in many different kinds of sauces to suit every taste and to remedy the deficiency of wheat regarding some essential amino-acids.
The evaluation of shelf life of perishable foods is a key aspect of modern production and distribution. Food ‘freshness’ is one of the most required attributes by consumers and is strongly influenced by storage conditions – temperature abuse being one of the main factors affecting the shelf life (Labuza, 1982; Singh, 1994).
Fresh dairy products are ‘living’ products that continue to ripen during marketing, with a shift in chemical and sensory properties. An important commercial goal for soft and un-ripened dairy products is to keep them fresh i.e. to maintain some peculiar sensory characteristics such as a white and ‘brilliant’ colour, creamy visual texture and spreadability, milky aroma and flavour and low acidity. All these characteristics undergo slight changes during the early phases of the lipolytic and proteolytic processes caused by the natural microflora.
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