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Reading gnocchi labels: how to choose the right product for every occasion

Reading gnocchi labels: as simple as it sounds? Long before the discovery of America, when potatoes were not as known, gnocchi was already a popular dish in Italy. In fact, a primitive form of potato gnocchi, made with many different ingredients, can be traced back to the 9th century while one of the first real gnocchi recipes was found in a 14th century manuscript, preserved at the University of Bologna (manuscript no. 158). 

Various types of gnocchi

When we hear the word gnocchi, most of us think of potato gnocchi. However it is very easy to make gnocchi using just flour and water. Then, gnocchi can actually be prepared with different types of flour: wheat, rice, semolina, potato, dry bread, or vegetable flour. Not to mention other particular types of gnocchi inspired by local traditional recipes across Italy such as 'gnocchi alla Romana' which is made with semolina. 
Reading gnocchi labels - flour

So what do gnocchi labels include?

There was a time when the grandmother's homemade gnocchi recipe was handed down from generation to generation. But today more and more people prefer buying gnocchi at the local grocery store or supermarket. But how do you really decode their label?

The information on gnocchi labels includes:
- Sales denomination
- Net quantity
- Cooking instructions
- Storage temperature
- Expiry date
- Production batch
- Nutrition declaration
- Manufacturer company name

Gnocchi: which ones, how to choose them and why

Vacuum packed, fresh or frozen? The first thing you need to know when buying gnocchi is what they are made with. If the label says 'potato gnocchi', it means that potatoes are the main ingredient; if, on the other hand, it says 'gnocchi with potatoes', then flour is the main ingredient.

So checking all the ingredients of the dough is important. According to regulations and laws, ingredients should be listed in descending order based on the quantity included. Usually, at the end of the list, there are additives used to help preserve foods. These are usually ingredients starting with the letter 'E', followed by a number and a classification.

Obviously, less additives means fresher gnocchi and shorter shelf life - approx. five days! On the other hand, if packaged in a protective atmosphere, gnocchi's shelf life rises to 30 days.

If gnocchi are made with potato flakes or dried starch, it is better to go for frozen gnocchi without additives. They have a longer shelf life but include the following ingredients: dried potatoes 80%, wheat flour type '00', potato starch, rice flour, salt, natural flavoring. These might be suitable for those with gluten intolerance.

Weight indication on the packaging is also useful as it suggests the size of each portion. Just keep in mind that although gnocchi weigh a lot, they might look too little on the plate! The recommended portion is approx. 200 grams.
Reading gnocchi labels - basil and tomatoes
Reading gnocchi labels - fresh basil

Pay attention to the nutrition facts label

Compared to pasta, pizza or other types of food made from refined flour, gnocchi made only with potatoes and water have a lower glycemic index, despite the fact that the primary nutrients are carbs. Therefore, gnocchi can be a healthier option if chosen carefully. On the other hand, gnocchi without flour or eggs are easier to digest, but can have a higher satiety index.

So decoding nutrition facts labels can help you make the right choice! 

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