We use only "coarse" durum wheat semolina to obtain a signature pasta with a distinctive taste. We knead the semolina with cool spring water to maintain firmness after cooking. We use bronze drawplates to create a rough surface to better retain sauce. We dry pasta slowly at low temperature to preserve the flavor of our wheat.
The best pasta is made with first quality material, starting from the excellent durum wheat. This is also what makes the difference between just any pasta and De Cecco pasta.
First of all, De Cecco pasta is not made with simple wheat. This pasta comes from the best durum wheat, golden like the sun.
Passion for quality is a tangible factor for De Cecco, therefore experts go in person to the harvest fields and see "for themselves" the quality of the wheat bound for the mill, the Molino, located in Fara San Martino. De Cecco uses only pale yellow grains (at De Cecco they are called "coloured grains"), the same one which falls into your plate thanks to patient work in each phase.
Once the wheat arrives in De Cecco, it is analysed in the laboratory where the cutting edge technologies are used and the most advanced equipment guarantees the most accurate and rigorous testing possible. Both the shape and the look of the grains are carefully analysed: the surface must be regular, without stains nor imperfections and the colour must be pale yellow.
De Cecco pasta, has yet another secret that makes it unique: the final gluten control, which is carried out by an original system, "the owner's bare hands". This is a ritual that has been running in the family for generations and it is one of the company assets, which permits the choice of the most suitable grains. After selection, the different grains are blended. Even this procedure is personally followed by the owners. This is the only possible way to determine the typical taste, colour and fragrance of the De Cecco pasta.
Thus if it is true that all the pasta stories begin in a wheat field, it cannot be said that the De Cecco pasta story begins in just any wheat field. Besides, to serve a pasta preserving all the sweet taste and essence of wheat, it must be taken good care of from the beginning.
Speaking of milling, De Cecco can really allow itself to bring grist to its mill.
Even before 1886, before the existence of the pasta factory, in a small village in the Majella, don Nicola De Cecco produced "the best flour of the surrounding countryside" in his stone mill. This allows us to say that in De Cecco they know all there is to know on wheat and milling.
Even today, all the wheat is ground in the mill adjacent to the pasta factory. It is thanks to the mill that De Cecco can blend the different wheat grains at the moment and use fresh ready milled semolina flour.
But the first wheat milling does not entail mere grinding.
Milling is when the grains, accurately cleaned of all harvesting impurities, are then deprived of all the least noble parts.
All this care in milling is motivated by the fact that De Cecco makes pasta using only the precious husk of the durum wheat.
In order to do this, the grains are softly "rid off" of all their layers down to the heart. By eliminating the outer layers up to 80% of semolina flour can be obtained.
As only the husk of the wheat is used, at De Cecco only 60% of semolina flower can be obtained, which means an inferior quantity of semolina flour but of a higher quality.
A minor rendering versus a major quantity of semolina flour and thus of pasta.
Think about this the next time you choose De Cecco.
Now it is time to consider another important ingredient: the pure and cold De Cecco spring water.
To own a mountain spring is a De Cecco exclusivity. If each pasta factory owned its own spring water, not many would knead at a temperature of about 10° Celsius.
Such a low temperature is essential to "create" pasta with a high consistency, which will keep its firmness during cooking. It is no simple task to artfully mix the coarse grain flour, produced in the De Cecco mill with cold water: only very experienced pasta makers, proper masters are able to prepare different mixes that "give life" to over 160 pasta formats.
Just think, only spring water and fresh semolina flour.
Very few products are so simple and yet so good. The De Cecco pasta is so fragrant and tasty that the "De Cecco people" warmly recommend, from connoisseurs to gourmet, to taste a plate of pasta simply with a touch of Extra Virgin olive oil, to fully appreciate the sweet excellence of the wheat enhanced by the simplicity of the oil.
But remember to try it only with a De Cecco cut.
Have you ever looked closely at a Fusillo, a Spaghetto or a Ghiottola? These and many other cuts are bronze drawn.
If you have, you certainly will have noticed their slight roughness: they are precise down to their porosity, they are also pale yellow, the same colour as wheat and, if you looked closer, holding it against the light, you would notice the coarse grain of the semolina flour.
And what takes the credit for all this? The bronze drawing. This drawing is a special process through which the pasta takes its shape, whereas the bronze gives it that unique porosity that makes the sauces and condiments cling to the pasta.
Bronze drawing is one of the special features of De Cecco pasta, which still few pastamakers adopt. In De Cecco this job is essential because the main objective is the quality of the pasta which implies the use of bronze drawplates.
But if you have never looked at De Cecco pasta in close up, now you know why it has never "upset" a sauce or a condiment by leaving it uneaten in the dish.
So, if you have ever asked yourselves where the inimitable firmness during cooking of De Cecco pasta comes from, you are in the right section to discover another secret, which has turned the pasta of the Abruzzo country girl into this unique speciality for over a century.
It is the low temperature slow drying process.
In bygone times pasta was rolled out and left to dry in the sun. In De Cecco this practice was carried out till 1889, the same year Filippo De Cecco invented a drying device, which was licensed and still quoted today in the Treccani Encyclopedia.
If you think that things have not changed much today in terms of drying procedure, you may also understand that in De Cecco they do not joke about "pasta according to tradition".
And what does the tradition say? The old pasta-making art requires a slow low temperature drying in order to preserve the pale yellow colour of the wheat.
This is why at De Cecco, with certain formats, they wait up to 40 hours rather than risk compromising the colour, the fragrance, the taste or the firmness during the cooking of their pasta. The next time any ordinary pasta overcooks under your boiling sauce, you cannot say you had not been warned.
The tasting ritual. What does it make you think of? Legends of faraway kingdoms, perhaps?
In De Cecco though the tasting ritual is far from being a legend. It is an "all De Cecco" tradition, renewed through generations to guarantee you the best pasta.
Before the actual tasting the semolina flour, the raw material accurately obtained from the wheat milling, is smelt by expert Tasters, after having been moistened with water and left to rest to allow it to free its unique fragrance.
The tasters verify that the plain pasta, without sauces or condiments, respects colour, fragrance, elasticity and firmness during cooking parameters each penna or spaghetto must have to call itself De Cecco. It must smell of wheat and it must have the typical pale yellow colour of the De Cecco grains. Then they make sure that its taste is not bitter, and finally, they check the consistency and the elasticity of the pasta.
After the tasting, which is also performed by the owners themselves, the pasta is left to rest for 5-10 minutes and then tasted again. This point is essential to test the consistency of the pasta during cooking, i.e. the pasta's ability of not softening and overcooking on its way from the colander to the plate. To pass the test, it must be like just cooked. But these are only the last tests of a long series.
Before it falls into the tasters' plates, De Cecco pasta has undergone a long procedure of laboratory analysis, also carried out on raw pasta, during which, the right thickness and shape perfection are constantly checked. All this does not count without the consent of the tasters, who have the last word on quality. When your turn to taste the pasta comes, you will understand why De Cecco cares so much.