Great Spaghetti Tips - How to Make Fresh Spaghetti From Scratch at Home

Fresh homemade spaghetti noodles are typically made from scratch today using a “roll and cut” style pasta making machine. The basic steps involved are as follows:

Mix ingredients into a ball of dough. - Typical ingredients are flour, eggs, salt and a little olive oil. Water can be used instead of eggs—but eggs are more common. Semolina flour can be used, but “all purpose” flour is also quite commonly used for fresh spaghetti. One reason for this, is that the all purpose flour is made from a softer wheat, and that makes the dough easier to work with. (The process of making store bought dried pasta today is entirely automated, so how easy the dough is to work with is not an issue in the making of the dry products.) Sometimes a mixture of hard and soft flours is used—in an attempt to come up with a dough that has some extra elasticity and yet is still fairly easy to work with.

At any rate, the eggs, salt and oil are first mixed together, and then gradually combined with the flour until a ball of dough is formed. The mixing of ingredients can be done by hand, or by using an electric mixer or food processor.

Knead the dough. - The ball of dough is then kneaded as required. The amount of kneading needed depends somewhat on the type of flour (or flours) used, as well as the moisture content of the mix. Some formulas are only kneaded lightly, while others are worked pretty hard. Again, this step can be done either by hand, or else by using an electric mixer or food processor.

Let the dough rest. – The ball of dough is lightly coated with flour, sealed up in plastic wrap, and allowed to set for 30 minutes. Some people put it in the refrigerator; others do not.

Roll the dough out into sheets. – The ball of dough is flattened somewhat, and cut up into several pieces. Each piece of dough is then fed repeatedly between a pair of rollers in the pasta making machine, which are gradually moved closer and closer together. The result is, that each piece of dough is eventually flattened and elongated into a very long and thin sheet.

It is possible to do all of this flattening and elongating by hand using a rolling pin, but you are really talking about a lot of long hard work here. There is a reason these machines were invented. They are true labor saving devices, and they do a great job as long as you keep both the dough and machine rollers well coated with flour (just like you would do when working with a rolling pin), so that things don’t become too sticky and clog up the machine.

Cut the sheets of dough into strands of spaghetti. – Pasta makers come with various attachments allowing you to cut the dough into linguine, fettuccine, tagliatelle, spaghetti, vermicelli, capellini, etc. As you might imagine, the larger and flatter strands are easier to make successfully and are more popular with some fresh pasta makers. So assuming you are new to making pasta at home from scratch (or why else would you be reading this?), you might want to start out by trying to make linguine or fettuccine.

After the strands are cut, you may need to add a little more flour and shake them up a little to keep them from sticking together.

That’s pretty much it. You can cook and eat the freshly made strands right away. Remember, they will only take a very few minutes to cook when fresh. You can also dry them out on a drying rack, of course and use them later. Another option is to wrap them up and put them in the refrigerator, if you want to make them up a day or two ahead for company. Obviously freshest is best, but being able to just pull them out and cook them quickly when your guests arrive can be pretty handy.

A word of encouragement….. Making fresh spaghetti from scratch at home is fun and rewarding. It is a little more work than opening a package of dry spaghetti. But most people really enjoy doing it, and consider it well worth the effort. (It is a great project to do with the kids in the kitchen, by the way.)

I will tell you, though, that there is a little bit of an art to getting the dough just right for rolling and cutting. You may have to practice a little bit before you get good at it. If you find that to be true, please don’t get discouraged and give up. Try to look at it as an important life skill to develop and pass on down to the next generation. Perhaps the most important thing to remember, is to be sure to keep everything sufficiently coated with flour, so that the dough does not stick to the machine and clog it up.

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