1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Macaroni
MACARONI (from dialectic Ital. maccare, to bruise or crush), a preparation of a glutinous wheat originally peculiar to Italy, where it is an article of food of national importance. The same substance in different forms is also known as vermicelli, pasta or Italian pastes, spaghetti, taglioni, fanti, &c. These substances are prepared from the hard, semi-translucent varieties of wheat which are largely cultivated in the south of Europe, Algeria and other warm regions, and distinguished by the Italians as grano duro or grano da semolino. These wheats are much richer in gluten and other nitrogenous compounds than the soft or tender wheats of more northern regions, and their preparations are more easily preserved. The various preparations are met with as fine thin threads (vermicelli), thin sticks and pipes (spaghetti, macaroni), small lozenges, stars, disks, ellipses, &c. (pastes). These various forms are prepared in a uniform manner from a granular product of hard wheat, which, under the name of semolina or middlings, is a commercial article. The semolina is thoroughly mixed with boiling water and incorporated in a kneading machine, such as is used in bakeries, into a stiff paste or dough. It is then further kneaded by passing frequently between rollers or under edge runners, till a homogeneous mass has been produced which is placed in a strong steam-jacketed cylinder, the lower end of which is closed with a thick disk pierced with openings corresponding with the diameter or section of the article to be made. Into this cylinder an accurately fitting plunger or piston is introduced and subjected to very great pressure, which causes the stiff dough to squeeze out through the openings in the disk in continuous threads, sticks or pipes, as the case may be. Vermicelli is cut off in short bundles and laid on trays to dry, while macaroni is dried by hanging it in longer lengths over wooden rods in stoves or heated apartments through which currents of air are driven. It is only genuine macaroni, rich in gluten, which can be dried in this manner; spurious fabrications will not bear their own weight, and must, therefore, be laid out flat to be dried. In making pastes the cylinder is closed with a disk pierced with holes having the sectional form of the pastes, and a set of knives revolving close against the external surface of the disk cut off the paste in thin sections as it exudes from each opening. True macaroni can be distinguished by observing the flattened mark of the rod over which it has been dried within the bend of the tubes; it has a soft yellowish colour, is rough in texture, elastic and hard, and breaks with a smooth glassy fracture. In boiling it swells up to double its original size without becoming pasty or adhesive. It can be kept any length of time without alteration or deterioration; and it is on that account, in many circumstances, a most convenient as well as a highly nutritious and healthful article of food.