NCI Pasta Manufacturing Course Hits Near Record Enrollment

Fargo, N.D., USA – A near record enrollment of 36 participants from 21 pasta manufacturing companies in Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, and USA attended the Pasta Production and Technology Short Course from April 10 to 12 at Northern Crops Institute (NCI), Fargo, N.D., USA.  NCI’s pasta short course has been offered annually since 1984.

“We were pleased to host a near record enrollment at this year’s course,” says John Crabtree, NCI Assistant Director. “Almost all of the major U.S. companies were represented. This says a lot about what the NCI staff has done with the program over the years. Many companies have sent their people to the course since its beginning.”

“This year, in addition to representatives from the U.S. pasta industry, we are hosting pasta companies from Nigeria, Brazil and South Africa.  Nigeria is actually a big consumer of wheat.  In 2012, Nigeria was the United States’ fourth largest durum wheat customer and their wheat flour milling and pasta industries continue to grow.  Eight participants were sponsored by U.S. Wheat Associates,” Crabtree continues. 

The pasta course is designed to showcase the high quality durum wheat that is produced in this four-state region. In 2012, U.S. durum production is predicted to rebound slightly after an historic low in 2011.  The largest gain in acres will be in the traditional durum areas of northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana.

At the course, participants gained hands-on experience in processing traditional pasta made with semolina, as well as ravioli and gluten-free pasta.  Short course lecture topics included durum varieties, quality evaluation, durum milling and semolina quality, wheat quality tests, functional and alternative pasta ingredients, semolina physical and rheological tests, commercial pasta production, impact of protein and starch on pasta quality, pasta die design, die management, pasta drying technology, equipment options for pasta extrusion, pasta color and cooking evaluation, quality assurance, specialty pasta technology, and causes and solutions of pasta defects. 

“We have a relatively small staff, so we are very dependent on getting experts from the pasta industry to present information on certain subjects, such as pasta extrusion, drying, and pasta equipment.  Private pasta companies have been very generous in working with us,” concludes Crabtree. 

Course faculty and technicians for the pasta course were: Rachel Carlson, NCI Food Technologist; Michael Ehr, Buhler, Inc.; Elias Elias, Ph.D., NDSU Durum Wheat Breeder; Alexis Freier and Radwan Ibrahim, Ph.D., Dakota Growers Pasta Company; Natsuki Fujiwara, NCI Food Technologist;  Alyssa Hicks, NCI Milling Specialist; Thunyaporn Jeradechachai, NCI Crop Quality Specialist; Al Lucia, Axor America; Dan Maldari, D. Maldari & Sons; Frank Manthey, Ph.D., NDSU Professor of Plant Sciences; Rilie Morgan, NCI Processing Specialist; and Brian Sorenson, Dakota Specialty Milling.

Northern Crops Institute supports regional agriculture and value-added processing by conducting educational and technical programs that expand and maintain domestic and international markets for northern-grown crops.