This is the story of exceptional pasta and a man outstanding in his field. Recently, we had the pleasure of meeting Massimo Mancini, pasta producer and wheat farmer from Le Marche, Italy, on his brief yet informative and inspiring visit to the Twin Cities. While most pasta produced in Italy has no connection to the wheat farm, Mancini was born first as a family farm.  Massimo, after attending University for agriculture and working with Barilla for many years, returned to his family’s 80 year old farm with the idea of building a pasta factory in the middle of their wheat fields. Massimo wanted to produce pasta with control over the process from seed to package.  And he did just that. True, most Italian pasta is made with wheat imported from sources outside of Italy: Canada, Arizona, and the Ukraine. Some Canadian wheat may be sprayed with glyphosate (trade name Round-Up) to expedite drying for harvest. Using sustainable farming practices, Mancini pasta comes from seeds hand-selected to grow best in their carefully managed, certified Good Agricultural Practices approved fields. Glyphosate use is banned in Italy, but it’s not needed by Mancini as the Le Marche climate is suited to natural drying in the field and the wheat is harvested only when the time is right

Mancini pasta is available in bulk or retail packaging. The material chosen for retail packaging is the result of ongoing research to find the best possible preservation of the pasta combined with maximum packaging recyclability.  Each package shows the harvest year as a testimony to Mancini’s mission of producing pasta using only the wheat that grows around them, creating a seasonality to their pasta. For Great Ciao it is always flavor, tested side-by-side with other brands, that makes our decision. By far, Mancini is the delicious choice. Massimo blends the best durum wheat varieties from his fields to create a pasta that has a wheat-y aroma and  nutty flavor. At the same time, the blend must absorb enough water during cooking to yield a “meaty” pasta without retaining too much causing bloat or washing out the sauce. The harvested wheat is milled throughout the year so their pasta is always produced with fresh semolina, key to creating that distinct aroma and fresh wheat taste. Circular bronze die cutters evenly extrude Mancini’s pasta creating consistent cuts and a rough texture to which sauce will cling, a sign of quality. Many companies use bronze die cutters for extruding pasta, but most use industrial sized rectangular bronze dies the size of a card table to process large batches. Rectangular dye batches create uneven temperature and distribution of the dough moving through extrusion process, resulting in an inconsistent product. Next, slow, low temperature drying preserves the nutritional and flavor characteristics of Mancini’s wheat. Each shape has unique drying specifications based on variations in temperature, humidity, ventilation and rest.  Drying times range from 24 to 44 hours depending on the shape versus just a few hours for industrial pastas. We hear, “pasta is just pasta”…..but we know, and now you do too, that Mancini is not “just pasta”. It is an edible work of art. Taste the deliciousness for yourself. Available in 11 different cuts in both bulk and retail packaging.

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