With different types of cutting and stamping, flat pieces of pasta can be “programmed” to swell into their familiar helices, saddles, twists, wings, bowties, and other three-dimensional shapes while they’re being cooked. The specific grooving patterns are what make it happen.
Bulky pastas—such as farfalle and fusilli—require more packaging than thinner varieties like angel hair, making them trickier to transport and leading to more waste.
Scientists tackled the problem by designing flat pastas that can transform into 3D shapes. They scored flat dough made of semolina flour—a core ingredient of Italian cuisine—with grooves, whose depth and spacing determined how the pasta would form when boiled.
Then, they fed their data into computer models, which could eventually automate the technique and make it easier for food manufacturers to produce and deliver a loaded menu of morphing pastas.
Watch this next: How to make 29 handmade pasta shapes with 4 types of dough
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