Going With The Grain - Published MINDFOOD magazine, October 2012

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The Maitland family at Anama Park, Clare Valley, SA
Like many farms in Australia, Anama Park in the Clare Valley, South Australia, has been a family-run property for generations. Now, almost 150 years after the property was first purchased (by Scottish immigrant James Maitland in 1866), it remains a valuable part of the Maitland family.

Flanked by pine trees, the dirt road to Anama’s historic homestead carves its way through a rich landscape of harvested wheat fields. Owned and run by David and Margot Maitland, their son Jim, and his wife Katherine, the historic homestead and surrounding farmland spans 1200 hectares and boasts broadacre crops of wheat, broad beans, canola and oaten hay. The family also leases a further 1800 hectares of land.

Jim Maitland, who lives in Clare with his wife, Katherine, says the idea to add value to their farming enterprise stemmed from his agricultural college days where he was encouraged to think outside the box. While David and Margot, were hesitant to make pasta, they recognised his passion to try a fully traceable, paddock-to-plate venture and could see Jim’s proposal had potential. “After a year’s research into milling, flour composition and manufacturers and lots of taste testing, we created a recipe for a wholegrain, stone milled pasta made from durum wheat produced on Anama,” says Jim. In April 2011, his dream became a reality with the launch of the family’s brand, Pangkarra.

Endorsed by TV cook Maggie Beer and celebrity chef Stefano de Pieri, Pangkarra is hand shaped and includes fettucine, spaghetti, pappardelle, lasagne, linguine and spiral. Dried on racks in consistent, low temperature without added preservatives or chemicals, it’s a 100 per cent natural product. The family works with Laucke, at Strathalbyn for the stone wheel milling and Adelaide’s L’Abruzzese for manufacturing. In response to customers’ interest in making their own pasta, Pangkarra flour was launched earlier this year becoming Australia’s only stone milled, wholegrain durum flour. A light, easy to work with product, it can be used for making pasta, sourdough, focaccia and baked breads, grissini and bread sticks, pizza bases, cakes, loaves and other baking products.

Katherine says it was the family’s medley of skills that made starting a new business easier to consider. “Jim, David and Margot’s knowledge is in the land, while Jim’s brother Sam and I have backgrounds in marketing, product distribution and sales. To get the Pangkarra brand out there, we take part in events, food and wine shows, joined the Clare Valley cuisine group, run workshops and produced promotional material and a website.”

Katherine says Pangkarra is 100 per cent wholegrain, which means all three components of the wheat – the fibre rich outer layer (bran), the nutritious inner core (germ) and the middle, starchy layer (endosperm) – have not been removed in the milling process. The integrity of the grain has not been altered as they use the whole-wheat, no nutrients and removed, resulting in a 100 per cent natural product. It’s high in fibre, low in fat, low G and is an excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients, Katherine explains.

A serve of Pangkarra provides more than the recommended daily requirement of wholegrains and experts say eating wholegrain foods is an essential part of a weight control diet and can reduce the risk of heart disease, colon cancer and diabetes by 30 per cent. Home grown, stone milled and wholegrain products are a rare commodity in today’s world of mass produced pasta and overseas’ imports. “The best thing about it is not just its nutritional benefits, but its back to basics, traditional way of making food in a very low processing environment,” Katherine adds.

The word Pangkarra is significant to the Kaurna people, the traditional owners of the land around the Adelaide Plains. “It means a district or tract of country belonging to an individual inherited from his father,” Katherine says. “Climate, soil, rainfall, geography, water and sunshine all affect crop quality and production yield. The passing down of land and the elements from generation to generation are the values that make the meaning of Pangkarra significant to the Kaurna people - and to our family.”

Meanwhile, Margot has whipped up some Pangkarra fettuccine, pan tossed in olive oil with crushed garlic, mushrooms and flat-leaf parsley. Its delicious, nutty taste and wonderfully rough but light texture is seriously good. I’ll definitely be coming back for more.
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