Creating fresh pasta with your very own pasta maker enables you to make an exceptional variety of delicious pasta dishes. The options and choices are vast. You can follow timeless traditional recipes, or create your own culinary masterpieces. No wonder Italian cooking is so popular. No wonder that pasta is one of the world’s most popular dishes, cuisine at its finest. The flavor is the difference!
Pasta makers are stylish accessories in any stylish home kitchen. They are fun and relaxing items to have. Quality machines are both compact and easy to use. The best pasta makers are strong and durable and built from solid tempered or stainless steel. They can be a great and fun family activity as well. In no time at all, you and your family will be making your very own tasty pasta.
A brief introduction is presented here, more details can be found on other pages. Your instruction book will have more specific info about using your particular pasta maker.
Once you have obtained all your ingredients, set up your pasta maker for operation, and read the machine’s instructions, the first step is to make sufficient dough for your meal. For ideal results, you need to create your dough with just the right consistency and softness to suit your machine. This is the key secret of making great pasta, make your dough with just the right suppleness, firmness, and softness.
Next, you divide the dough into lumps of a certain size to suit your pasta maker, around the size of the palm of your hand.
Pasta makers have cylinder-shaped flat and round rollers in their mechanism to produce your pasta. They work by pushing the dough using moderate pressure through these rollers, again and again, and again. Next, you gradually move the rollers closer and closer together. With experience, you quickly become an expert both at making your original dough and at feeding it through your machine.
The end result is a beautiful, thin and flat sheet of pasta which you are able to use in a variety of ways and shapes to help create the delicious meal ahead.
Pasta makers generally have a regulating knob with around five to ten different settings so you can adjust the thickness of your pasta sheets. On manual machines, simply turn the handle, while on electric models, simply activate the motor to begin making your pasta.
Pasta makers are supplied in either manual or electric models. Manual pasta machines represent superb value and a very fine manual pasta maker can be acquired for less than $100. Most machines include accessories such as a clamp to attach your machine to your benchtop, for example.
Tip: use the biggest bench space you have in your kitchen! You can also obtain cutting tools so that you can create a wide variety of wonderful shapes, from fettuccine to spaghetti. One or two cutting attachments typically ship with your pasta maker package. It’s best to check before buying. The finest pasta makers have removable cutting heads to make cleaning easy and fast.
Some pasta maker sets ship with a variety of useful accessories not always provided with basic models. A good example is a ravioli attachment which can be used to crimp and fill two sheets of pasta with your choice of filling. Be sure to read all the details about accessories and descriptions before choosing your model. Other accessories can be purchased separately. For example, you can purchase an electric dough mixer to go with your pasta maker. Another great accessory is a hanging rack.
Your instruction book that comes with your pasta maker can give you more details on using your machine. And if you really want to become an expert, there are great How-To books and recipe books available as well.
Finally, there are many good “how-to” videos available on the internet about making fresh pasta. In Google (“videos” option), try searching for ‘fresh pasta’. Or try the same search on YouTube. Look for the excellent instructional video by ‘mikeiem’, a superb and comprehensive 10-minute introduction to dough making and using pasta makers.
Using Pasta Makers
First, see our “Making Dough” page for advice on creating your dough to the right consistency to suit your pasta machine.
Next, follow the instructions which ship with your pasta maker to prepare and set up your machine, then follow or adapt the following principles.
Making thin pasta sheets
The first step is to divide your dough into small, palm-sized amounts. Using your hands, shape these lumps into rectangular shapes. These shapes should now be thinner than your finger. And the shapes need to be narrower than the pasta maker itself. Because you have a number of lumps of dough, keep the ones you aren’t working wrapped in plastic so they don’t dry out.
It can be useful to use a rolling pin at this stage to assist in preparing your dough to the right depth to suit your machine.
The initial step is to set your pasta maker rollers at the widest setting and turn the handle (on a manual machine) to feed the dough through a few times. Support the dough as it comes out of the machine, but don’t pull on it.
Re-fold the processed sheet of dough over on itself as required to suit the next pass through the machine. Next, you adjust the rollers to the next setting which is a bit narrower, and feed the dough through once or twice again. Two passes at each width setting often seem to work well. Take your time and don’t skip any settings until you achieve the narrowness you want.
Keep repeating this process, moving the rollers closer and closer together, and feeding the dough through again and again. Your dough sheets will get longer and longer. But you will notice now that your dough is getting smoother and smoother. A little bit elastic and a little bit shiny. An extra pair of hands is really helpful here!
Special Notes: Sometimes it helps to fold the expanding pasta shape in half, but then you will need to click the pasta maker back to the widest setting. Also, it helps to very lightly dust the dough on both sides with fine flour before you pass it through your machine to avoid sticking.
Cutting the pasta
Finally, you have a thin sheet of freshly made pasta, ready for the final stage of preparation. (If you started with four lumps of dough, you will now have four sheets). The next step is to cut the pasta into a variety of shapes to suit the delectable meal ahead. Pasta makers mostly ship with optional attachments and adapters to cut the dough. This allows you to make ravioli and other styles of pasta.
Tip: do the cutting as soon as possible after your pasta dough is made before it has a chance to start drying out. But if you need a break, you can cover it with a clean and damp cloth such as a tea towel for a short time.
Feed the dough through the cutting mechanism and catch the pasta on the other side with your hand. As soon as you have cut the dough in your chosen style, hang the pasta on a pasta drying rack or wooden dowels. It should have a feeling slightly like leather after 15 minutes or so.
Don’t forget to read your instruction or recipe book for other creative culinary options.
By the way, it’s very useful to have an extra pair of hands available when it comes to simultaneously turning the handle and feeding the pasta through the machine, and also for cutting. That is why pasta making is an enjoyable and fun family activity. And there is more creativity and pleasure to follow when you start to make your creative pasta shapes. Not to mention the fun of cooking your favorite pasta sauce recipe, or experimenting with new ones.
An almost infinite variety of ingredients are available to fill certain styles of pasta or to fill between pasta layers. There are countless styles using fills, from ravioli to tortellini. And fresh pasta cooks in a fraction of the time that dried pasta from the grocery store takes. It’s no wonder that pasta dishes are so highly popular in so many countries around the world!
The rolled pasta you make at home is lighter than extruded pasta purchased in stores. So it cooks much more quickly now and your delicious home-made pasta absorbs the flavor of sauces more richly, giving you greater texture and taste! You will quickly discover that it’s true – the flavor is the difference! Bon appetit – you’ve earned it!