Deciding to make your own pasta at home is a smart decision. You are able to create many tasty and healthy variations to dazzle both your guests and your taste buds. The ease at which you decide to create your own pasta, however, is up to you. There are a variety of pasta makers on the market, both manual and electric, that have the capability of creating different types of pastas, and each method has their strengths and weaknesses.
Manual Pasta Makers
You’ve probably seen the most popular style of these: The metal contraptions that adhere either by a clamp or suction cup onto a countertop with the crank on one end. This is probably the most widely used of all pasta makers, because they are the most reliable. They are built sturdy and deliver a quality result with a little elbow grease. You position the feeder at the top of the machine in one direction to pass your dough through it a few times to adequately flatten your dough before you flip the feeder the other direction to pass it through the cutter.
As I mentioned, the manual pasta makers do deliver a great finished product consistently. Most manual machines come with the ability to make spaghetti, fettuccine and tagliolini noodles, as well as just flat dough for making your own ravioli. If you want to make more types of noodles, you have to purchase additional blades that are sold separately, and are swapped out for the blade that comes with it. The one issue is the cleaning and maintenance of these machines. You have to ensure that you get any and all excess dough that may be caught in the nooks and crannies to keep it clear of bacterial growth, as well as getting it completely dry after a wash to prevent any rusting, especially if you live in a humid climate.
Electric Pasta Makers
Many of these types come with the ability to make pasta in many of the same shapes and types described in the manual pasta makers. However, several brands include the addition of other discs that are inserted into the end of the machine (where the pasta comes out) to create noodles like macaroni, ziti and angelhair. There is a bit more variety of pasta shapes that are available out-of-the-box with electric pasta makers, and the only elbow grease you have to put into the whole process is mixing the dough, itself. You just feed the dough into the machine, and the electric aspect of it all does the rest of the work for you. All you have to do now is catch the noodles.
They often disassemble very easily for quick cleaning. Many parts are also dishwasher safe, so that’s always a bonus. However, as is the problem with anything electric, parts may break easily over time and become difficult to find and replace. The electric pasta makers are also usually much more expensive than their manual counterparts.
Regardless of which of the homemade pasta makers you choose, it’s always smart to create a “dummy dough” to run through it the first time. Make a basic dough with no special ingredients (just some flour and water) to pass through the machine before putting in a dough that you really care about. The purpose of this is to allow the dummy dough to catch any loose metal shards that may be in there due to the machining process at the manufacturer. You don’t want to bite into your freshly made spinach pasta only to discover a little piece of metal, do you? Don’t skip this important step.