Nothing compares to fresh pasta. No, we’re not talking about freshly boiled instant pasta – we’re talking about the real stuff. But going out to Italian restaurants or buying fresh pasta from the supermarket can get pretty pricey. It’s much more convenient to keep instant pasta in the cupboard. Unless you have a pasta maker.
Making pasta may seem intimidating, messy, and a lot of work, but with a pasta maker it can be a lot easier than you may think. With just a couple of simple ingredients and an hour of your time, you can enjoy fresh restaurant-quality pasta at home.
What are pasta makers?
Pasta makers are machines that streamline the process of making fresh pasta from scratch. There are two main types. Traditional hand-cranked rollers make it easy to roll out the dough and turn it into perfect pasta ribbons, shapes, and sheets. Electric pasta makers can also do the mixing and kneading, so all you have to do is add the right ingredients and press the right buttons.
Both types include cutting attachments that turn your dough into spaghetti, penne, lasagne sheets, and more. The type and number of pasta shapes you can make depends on the individual pasta maker model.
How do pasta makers work?
Good pasta is all about the texture. Pasta makers both work the dough to get it to the right texture, then flatten and cut it into the desired shape. Electric pasta makers can mix and knead the dough as well, before turning it out into fresh ready-to-cook pasta.
Once the pasta dough is made, it’s fed through the rollers a number of times, starting off with the widest setting to work the dough, then through progressively smaller settings until it reaches the desired thickness. Next, the dough is fed through the cutting rollers where it’s sliced up into thin spaghetti strands or wide pappardelle, or turned out into whatever shapes the particular model can produce.
Additional tools can be used to turn pasta sheets into more shapes such as ravioli. The process can vary slightly for fully automated pasta appliances.
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Why should I get a pasta maker?
Fresh pasta generally tastes much better than the mass-produced dried kind, and tends to have a much better al dente texture. A pasta maker also allows you to create more interesting and different pasta than your supermarket may offer, such as different colours and flavours. It can also make high quality pasta accessible for those with allergies and intolerance, such as coeliacs.
While you can make fresh pasta entirely by hand, it can be a lot more time-consuming, messy and difficult. Choosing the right pasta tool for you can take care of the harder parts of pasta making while allowing you to enjoy the experience of cooking from scratch. Or, you could choose a fully automatic appliance to do everything for you.
How much do pasta makers cost?
A basic mechanical pasta roller can be very affordable, although be wary of varying build qualities among the cheaper models. At the other end of the spectrum, a high-end electric pasta maker can do everything for you, but at a hefty price tag. Consider what you want out of a pasta maker to determine what would make a good value choice for you.
The below prices are accurate at time of writing, as advertised by major Australian retailers.
|Type||Lower End||Higher End|
|Electric mixing, kneading & rolling||$249||$399|
How do I choose a pasta maker?
Not all pasta makers are the same. When there’s such a huge price range, it’s worth having a good look at your options before picking a new appliance.
Most hand-cranked pasta makers need to be clamped onto a countertop or table, so check that you have a surface suitable for this. Before buying a hand-cranked device, you should also check the crank. Turning it should give some resistance, without being too hard to turn nor too loose or wobbly.
While a food processor or kitchen mixer can automate mixing and kneading the dough for you, a combined electric pasta maker can complete the whole process of turning the ingredients into pasta without any work from you. Weigh up the pros of having the whole process combined in one device, versus the need of yet another mixing appliance. If you already own a high-end mixer, you may want to consider choosing a pasta roller and cutter attachment.
Some other factors to consider when choosing a pasta maker include:
- Strength & quality of components: Avoid cheap, flimsy gears and rollers that are more likely to warp or break. The whole device should feel strong and sturdy.
- Construction material: Are parts, particularly the internal parts, made of durable material that’s easy for you to clean?
- Shape attachments & thickness settings: Different devices have different thickness settings and different pasta shape attachments. Look for a model that has everything you need. There’s no point in forking out for dozens of extras that you won’t end up using.
It’s a good idea to look for product reviews before buying a pasta maker, to avoid accidentally choosing a dodgy product.
What can I do with a pasta maker?
There are a lot of different recipes that you can explore with your pasta maker. You can make colourful pasta using vegetables, or even try something really unusual like chocolate pasta or wine pasta!
Once you’ve made fresh pasta, you don’t have to use it straight away. Fresh pasta can keep in the fridge for a couple of days, or you can dry or freeze it for longer-term storage. For drying pasta, you can either purchase a drying rack or DIY it. A plastic-wrap covered broom handle suspended between two chairs, or a coat hanger, or anything else lying around that works can be used to hang up your pasta to dry.
You can then bulk make pasta when you have free time, and keep it on hand to easily whip up a fresh homemade pasta dish at a moment’s notice.
Whether you’re an aficionado who eats pasta every night, or you’d like to make fresh pasta for special occasions, there’s a good pasta maker out there for you.