Ultrastructure of pasta from gluten-free grains: a brief overview
In dry pasta from durum wheat the protein component, namely gluten, plays a key role in determining its quality. The organization of proteins in a dense and structuring gluten network is crucial for keeping starch granules within the matrix and thus limiting the release of organic material into the cooking water. Good development of gluten-network is also associated with low stickiness and firmness of cooked pasta. In pasta from gluten-free (GF) grains, the structuring role of gluten can be undertaken by the formation of a scaffold of retrograded starch or by other proteins intentionally added into the formulation. However, the production of good quality GF-pasta (i.e., high firmness, low stickiness, and cooking loss) still represents a challenge for the food industry. The use of microscopy to better understand the ultrastructural organization of single components, either in conventional or GF-pasta, represents a powerful and informative tool of investigation. Different microscopy techniques can be specifically applied to study pasta structure as affected by processing or by different raw materials. In this review article, the impact/effect of processing conditions, as well as the use of the most popular GF-grains in the production of GF-pasta and their positive and negative implications on the ultrastructure of the final product are presented.
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