Pasta Maker Buying Guide
What is a Pasta Maker?
When looking for a pasta maker there are a number of factors which will determine which is the best pasta maker for your needs.
What kind of noodles will you be making? Pasta machines have different attachments that are needed for various pasta types. You want the type of pasta you enjoy the most to be included with the machine or available as an attachment. Pasta can include everything from lasagna, ravioli, spaghetti, fettuccini, taglioni, linguini, vermicelli, cappelinni and more. Rounded pasta like rigatoni are harder to make by hand but can be made with the right attachment.
Do you prefer an all in one or attachment cutter? Adding attachments gives you the benefit of being able to buy more later to increase the number of noodles you are able to make. Built in models with all the basic attachments are more compact. Machines with the thinning process as one piece and the cutters as an attachment are most common. They both work effectively.
Do you have a current appliance that offers a pasta attachment? These attachments are often similar to the costs of a standalone machine but may take up less space and give you an electric option that is compact because it won’t require an additional motor.
What accessories do you need? Basic pasta making can be done with only the machine. Each machine will generally give you all that is needed for the most popular types of pasta. As with many appliances, though, once you see the benefits you may want to expand. This might include other standalone products like pasta driers to additional attachments for a greater ability to make more types of pasta.
Features to Consider
Manual or Electric is the first question you must answer. Manual machines can last for many years because there is not a motor to replace. However, an electric that can double as a manual can still be used even if the motor no longer works. The convenience of an electric is that you can work the pasta with both hands and it takes less coordination. Manual units require you to crank the unit with one hand and feed the pasta through the machine with the other. Once you get the hang of it, it is easy to do but there is a longer learning curve. Manual units are also less expensive than electric units because you do not have the cost of the motor.
How is the machine built? When working with food you are looking for all metal parts that are top quality such as stainless steel or anodized aluminum. These resist rust and remain sharp, which you need for the cutters. The quality of the cutters is particularly important as inexpensive poorly made models can cut unevenly and the cutters can dull quickly making it more difficult to get uniform pasta.
Number of thickness settings and finished pasta sizes. When working with a pasta machine you start out on the thickest setting and as the dough smooths and shapes you adjust the knob to lower the settings, making the pasta thinner. The more thicknesses offered the more types of pasta you will be able to make. Top models commonly offer between 6 and 9 settings. Thickness is measured in millimeters and thinner settings are called for thinner pasta. The thickness and width need to be uniform so if you want angel hair pasta you need a setting that will give you a thin layer and then a cutter than will match that setting.
What attachments are available. If you decide you love making pasta you will likely want to expand your abilities by adding to the initial purchase and increase the number of attachments, you use. You will be able to make many more types of pasta as you add a wider assortment of attachments. There are specific cutters for thinner and thicker pastas as well as specialty cuts.
Attachment to the counter should be secure. If the unit moves around when you crank the handle you will have difficulty creating a uniform thickness in your pasta. This difference will impact cooking times and the overall quality of the finished product.
Ease of adjusting the thickness. For each sheet of dough, you will need to make between six and nine adjustments. You want the knob to be tight but easy to adjust.
Handle is comfortable and stays in place. A loose fitting handle will make it more difficult to turn the crank. For electric models this will not be a factor unless you choose to use the manual mode on occasion.
Warranty. For electric machines this will be particularly important as the life of the motor will impact the value of the product. Manual units should last for many years as long as they are cared for properly. Warranties generally only include defects and not damage due to misuse. If you wash it with water and it begins to rust the warranty will most likely not cover the damage.
Choosing a pasta machine boils down to what types of pasta you want to make and then finding a quality machine that will complete the task both fast and effectively. As more families pay closer attention to what they eat, organic and homemade products will continue to grow in popularity. Pasta is a way to increase the nutrients in your diet and reduce the amount of processed foods in the diet but making it yourself. Machines have made it an easy and effective process. With machine being very affordable and compact, they do not take up much space in the pantry and yet allow you to have healthier food in the process.