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About Pasta

There are two main types of pasta — dry pasta and fresh pasta. Under the right conditions, dry pasta can be kept for up to two years. This is convenient.

Fresh pasta is made with eggs and can be kept in a refrigerator for a few days. If you enjoy the finest in cuisine, home-made pasta is a true delight, delicious and full of flavor.

With your own pasta maker, you can make an exceptionally wide variety of delicious dishes based on fresh pasta. And you can really taste the difference!

Dry pasta can only be produced from genuine durum wheat flour (or durum wheat semolina) under Italian law. Durum wheat is noted for its yellow tinge of color. In other countries, other grades of wheat are often used, but this generally produces a softer dish. This isn't the preferred style in Italy, where the popular traditional al dente style of cuisine produces a firmer meal.


pasta dough pic


There are hundreds of different pasta shapes and the traditional Italian names are frequently used in countries around the world. They range from spaghetti (long strings) to lasagne (flat sheets) to fusilli (swirls). And with ingenuity and accessories, you can use your pasta maker to make many shapes and styles. Pasta is also versatile because an almost infinite variety of delicious sauces can be created to accompany it.

And, a great variety of different ingredients can be used to fill certain styles of pasta or be used to fill between layers. No wonder pasta dishes are enjoyed so much around the world!


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pasta ingredients picturePasta makers work by pushing dough under moderate pressure between the flat rollers of the machine. Once you have made your dough to the right consistency, you feed the dough into your pasta maker, again and again. Then, once you have a beautiful flat sheet of pasta, you are ready to create shapes, such as in the photo at left.

Machines generally have an adjustable regulating knob with at least half a dozen settings so you can control the thickness of your pasta and lasagna sheets. Turn the handle (on manual machines) or activate the motor (on electric models) to start making your own pasta. The best machines are easy to use, versatile, compact and attractive additions to your kitchen.

Pasta makers can be manual or electric. Quality manual machines represent excellent value and can be purchased for under $100, while electric models can cost more than $1000. A wide range of fine machines are available for easy purchase at Pasta-Makers.com

Your instruction book (and recipe book) can give you more detailed advice, but in principle, here is a brief summary of how to use a pasta maker.

Using pasta makers

This is where your culinary skill comes in — your dough needs to be of just the right consistency for the best results — and ease of creation. It needs to be just right, not too dry and not too moist. So experience and practice come to the fore when kneading and making up your pasta dough. Your recipe book will have details, but the principle is to blend and knead your mixture of durum wheat flour and eggs until it has just the right consistency. If it is too moist, add a little more flour. Too dry, just add a little water. You'll soon be an expert!

The dough needs to have just the right consistency and firmness. It needs to be dry enough so the cutting rollers are effective, and it needs to be moist enough so the cutting rollers can "grab" it properly. But with some trial and error, you'll soon master this skill. And your family and guests will be so impressed!


pastamaker pictureIn a nutshell, divide your dough into small, palm sized amounts. Shape into a rectangular shape, thinner than your finger. Set your pasta machine rollers at the widest setting, and feed the dough through a few times, turning the handle. Re-fold the sheet of dough as required. Steadily narrow the rollers and feed the dough through once at each setting.

Finally, you have a beautiful, thin sheet of fresh pasta, like in the photo at far left. Optionally, you can use an attachment to make ravioli etc, or consult your recipe book for many more creative options.

A special note — pasta making is a great family activity because it's always great to have an extra pair of hands on deck when it comes to turning the handle and feeding out the pasta, and good fun when you work on your creative shapes and recipes afterwards.

Also, rolled pasta is much lighter than the extruded pasta you buy in stores. This means it absorbs the flavor of sauces better and fresh pasta cooks much much faster as well. Then, you can look forward to superior flavor, texture and taste!

The best pasta makers are constructed of solid tempered or stainless steel, and the best machines make a welcome and stylish addition to your kitchen. They typically come with accessories like a clamp to attach your machine to your kitchen bench top, cutters to help create various pasta shapes (like spaghetti and fettuccine), a recipe book and of course an instruction book. The best machines have a removable cutting head so you can easily clean your pasta maker.

Other accessories, for example pasta drying racks and electric dough mixers can be purchased separately. There are optional attachments available for some models, for example, one that fills and crimps two sheets of pasta to make ravioli. There are also pasta making sets on the market which include various useful accessories.

Finally — enjoy your delicious home-made pasta meal — you've earned it!



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