Preparing, cooking and eating fresh pasta is a wholly different experience than using its store-bought dry counterpart. Once the sheets of pasta have been cut into their desired shape, they should be cooked as soon as possible, with no drying necessary. Pasta should be dried if you plan to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
Fresh Vs. Dry
The primary difference between fresh and dry pasta is that fresh pasta contains soft wheat flour and eggs, and dry pasta uses durum flour. As a result, fresh pasta is more moist and tender, and it cooks in about half the time. Fresh pasta is ideally paired with light sauces, often butter- or cream-based ones, while dry pasta tends to go better with tomato-based sauces.
Make It Fresh
Making fresh pasta is a simple but tedious task. Flour, eggs, water and salt are combined and kneaded. The dough is then rolled out with either a rolling pin or a pasta machine, and then it is cut into the preferred style, whether fettuccine, ravioli or farfalle, for example. Then the pasta can be cooked immediately in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
When to Dry
To prepare fresh pasta for short-term use, make the pasta and then dry it for approximately 30 minutes. Place the pasta in plastic bags and refrigerate for up to 12 hours. If you’d like to freeze the pasta, be sure to dry it completely before placing it in bags. This can take several hours, but if the pasta remains moist, it’s possible for mold to form. Freeze the pasta for up to a couple months.
Tools to Dry
When drying pasta, all that matters is that it completely dries. You can lay the pasta out on a floured surface, but if you are making any kind of noodle, the strands will dry faster if you hang them. Many stores sell pasta drying racks, but any clean rod will do. A clothes-drying rack, the back of a chair, or even a hanger will get the job done. Be gentle with the pasta once dried, because it will be brittle.
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Based in San Francisco, Kim Gooden holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature and has apprenticed under a chef, worked on a vineyard and farmed in Spain. She has been writing and editing articles on food, drink and the arts since 2005 and has been published by the "Washington City Paper," the Poetry Foundation, and Arola Editors.
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