October is National Pasta Month, so celebrate by enjoying your favorite pasta dish and keep your eyes and ears open for a chance to win a pasta prize package. In honor of National Pasta Month in October and Pasta Lovers’ Week October 23-29, the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) will partner with newspapers and radio stations around the state in recognizing our state’s durum producers and their contribution to the pasta industry.
The Commission will provide newspapers and radio stations with trivia and crossword puzzles to help spread the word about durum and pasta production and their uses around the world. Prize packages which include a pasta month t-shirt featuring this year’s “Only the best durum grows up to be pasta” logo from the NDWC, pasta spoons from the U.S. Durum Growers Association and pasta from Dakota Growers Pasta Company and American Italian Pasta Company will be awarded to lucky readers and listeners.
Pasta is enjoyed around the world, but its roots are right here in North Dakota where the main ingredient, durum, is grown. North Dakota produces nearly 50 million bushels of durum each year, or about two-thirds of the nation’s total. Durum is milled into semolina and mixed with water to produce the many pasta products we enjoy. Growing quality durum is harder than it looks – producers must select the right variety, manage the developing crop for disease and pest threats and hope that the weather cooperates to produce a high yielding, quality durum crop. An untimely rain or disease pressure can downgrade quality, making it less desirable to millers and pasta manufacturers, and leads to a lower price for the farmer. This year, wet conditions and flooding prevented about one-half of North Dakota’s traditional durum acres from being planted, which is leading to tighter durum supplies.
Quality durum is needed to produce quality pasta and as Dr. Frank Manthey, Durum Quality Specialist at NDSU explains, the durum and semolina must go through thorough testing to prove it is qualified to make the pasta enjoyed here and around the world. “End users demand quality durum and semolina and to ensure the best quality there are rigorous quality tests throughout the market chain. Grain tests such as protein, test weight and color are important, but the dough must also be tested for strength and the finished product must be analyze for color, cooked firmness and cooking loss. Producing quality pasta begins with quality durum that has the right genetics, the right production practices and the right weather. No simple task. ”
North Dakota producers grow enough durum for nearly 17 billion servings of pasta. About two-thirds of our pasta production is used domestically while the remainder is exported to nearly 20 countries each year with Italy and Algeria the leading customers.
For additional pasta information and recipes, visit the following websites:
American Italian Pasta Company – www.aipc.com
Dakota Growers Pasta Company, a subsidiary of Viterra – www.viterra.com/pasta
Dreamfields – www.DreamfieldsFoods.com
National Pasta Association – www.ilovepasta.org
North Dakota Wheat Commission – www.ndwheat.com
Source: North Dakota Wheat Commission