The Ancient Wheat project: Santa Vittoria #wheatlove
Years ago we decided to start seeding old wheat variety selected by the Florence University for their special qualities: good taste, high nutrition, low impact farming methods. After that we start studying the milling process for making flour and the pasta making process. The result of our research is the Spaghetti pasta shape that we’re producing now. They represent our idea of excellent products in taste and healthy.
The old wheat v.s modern wheat
Good taste and high nutrition
The increasing interest on ancient wheat cultivars is based on their characteristic nature, particularly appropriate for low-input and organic managements, and on the “perceived” higher nutritional value of their flour, with respect to modern wheats. Findings derived from human studies suggest that the consumption of ancient wheat products ameliorate pro-inflammatory/anti-oxidant parameters, as well as glycaemic and lipid status. That’s thanks to their natural “soft and friendly” kind of gluten and richness in protein, polyphenol and flavonoid.
Low Impact Farming Methods
The old wheat has been selected hundred year ago when farming was pesticide and chemical free. They grow high and fight themselves against the wild weeds. They also need very low natural fertilizer quantity. For all those reason they are perfect for the organic farming.
Stone-ground flour and plane flour
Good wheat and the right milling process give the taste and the flour quality. We choose to mill our wheat at the the ancient water Mill Silvestri that is run by the eight generation
in a lineage of millers from the Silvestri’s family and produce the best stoneground flour we ever found.
See below some informations about stoneground and plane flour.
Whole grains are made up of three parts of a grain kernel:
- Bran containing important antioxidants, B-vitamins and fibre
- Germ containing protein, minerals, healthy fats and B-vitamins
- Endosperm containing carbohydrates, protein and small amounts of vitamins, minerals and fibre
Each of these parts contains valuable nutrients that play an important role in our diets. Because they still contain the bran and germ, whole grains are higher in Vitamin E and B6, phosphorus, magnesium, antioxidants, and fibre compared to refined grains.
With the invention of the roller milling system in the late 19th century, the bran and the germ were able to be removed, dramatically improving the appeal of baked products to the public and drastically reducing the flour nutrition quality.
The Pasta Drying process
We decided to make our pasta with a very slow and low temperature drying process to preserve the nutritional properties and enhance the dry pasta taste.
The most os the commercial pasta makers brand use to dry the pasta with high or very high temperatures:
Medium temperature (24-72 hours at 122°F)
High temperature (8-10 hours at 176°F)
very high temperature (2-4 hours 257°F)
With those high temperature the past lost the most of its nutritions and taste but allow the big company to save money and time.
The Fabbri’s pasta drying process method.
In our research for the best pasta maker, we found the Fabbri’s family in Strada in Chianti a little village in the heart of Chianti. Fabbri’s family runs his own pasta factory since more than one hundred year ago transferring pasta making knowledge for 5 generations of pasta makers. They dry the pasta at 100°F for 3-6 days with a real slow drying process creating the best dry pasta we ever tasted before.
Find below a brief description of their method, copied from their web site.
“What characterizes our production is the deep knowledge of the product along with the ancient machineries that keep being used at Pastificio Fabbri, which allow to produce pasta the same way we did 100 years ago. In the course of time we have collected more than a hundred bronze moulds with which we produce just as many formats of pasta; each format can be made with different types of durum wheat flour or with eggs. However, the real success of our pasta is due to the secret that has been transmitted over the generations, that is what we call “The Fabbri Method, natural drying”: in any phase of production (kneading, compression, moulding and drying) temperatures always remain below 38°C.
This means that it usually takes from 3 to 6 days to complete the drying process. This way we can keep both gluten and starch natural, facilitating digestibility.”
The Spaghetti Santa Vittoria
Spaghetti represent the synthesis of our research. The special taste and nutritional property of our Spaghetti were made by mixing 3 special ingredients: old wheat (Cappelli old variety) grow in our farm, stone-ground flour made by Silvestri’s water mill and dry pasta made with the Fabbri’s family method.
What’s in the future
Our research for the best old durum wheat never stop. For the next year we’re growing in our farm the Russello durum wheat. This very old variety coming from a little area close to Modica in Sicily, where the dry pasta tradition is around 800 years old. We got the seed from a sicilian farmer belonging to an organization of farmers whom saving old wheat variety seeds.
Some links about ancient wheat properties.