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best utensil for making spaetzle

Summerfield Oct 18, 2006 07:07 PM

Years ago, my mom used an aluminum cookie press to make what she called egg drops, just basically an egg noodle made from eggs and flour with perhaps a little salt - very much like what the Germans call spaetzle, and akin to a dumpling. We ate these in various soups. I used a press like my mom's, until it was ruined. Now, I'm wondering what chowhounders think is the best utensil for this job. I've heard some people use food mills. Thanks in advance for your ideas.

  1. j
    jesi1882 Oct 18, 2006 10:00 PM

    I spent a year in germany and they all used a ricer to make it. in professional restaurants we use a perforated hotel pan and push/scrape the dought through with a rubber spatula directly into the boilig water

    1. p
      Procrastibaker Oct 18, 2006 10:01 PM

      I haven't made it in a while, but I think we pushed it through the holes of a collander...

      5 Replies
      1. re: Procrastibaker
        AmblerGirl Oct 22, 2006 07:31 PM

        I actually made spaetzle this morning and the collaner method was in the recipe. I tried it... and it was a complete disaster, it just would not go through the holes. I got so frustrated, I wound up forming it by hand. Needless to say, it made for some ugly noodles! Are there any tricks to making sure the collander method works?

        1. re: AmblerGirl
          JudiAU Oct 23, 2006 05:27 AM

          People always talk about "hotel pans" and cool-- your collandar but the reality is they are horrible, horrible devices with which to make spaetzle. Sur la table sells a small plastic device that is really worth it. Other places to-- fairly cheap and plastic-y and works like a dream. Packaging is in German.

          1. re: JudiAU
            peepswang Oct 23, 2006 05:35 AM

            Actually, I think the perforated hotel pan is the best choice for making spaetzle. I have used it all of my career at Rubicon, Jardiniere, Blackbird and Daniel. Certainly does not produce a horrible product. I have used a spaetzle maker and they are ok. Realistically, though, not many home kitchens have a perforated hotel pan. So, for home cooking the best option is the spaetzle maker. Affordable and it makes satisfactory spaetzle, even if it will only be used once in a while.

            1. re: peepswang
              JudiAU Oct 28, 2006 12:20 AM

              Actually I said horrible device not horrible product. I was refering to making spaeztle in a home kitchen with a colander which is a miserable process. I doubt most people have perforated hotel pan at home.

              The lovely dumplings I've eaten at restaurants were probably all made by experienced chef using hotel pans in restaurants. You are welcome to come over and make us spaezle in a collander an ytime.

            2. re: JudiAU
              Procrastibaker Oct 23, 2006 01:50 PM

              I'm not sure why the collander method didn't work with your recipe. It has been quite a while since I've made spaetzle, but I do know that the batter went through just fine. If I remember which recipe I used, I'll let you know. Maybe the holes in your collander are particularly small? Mine is a cheap plastic one with relatively large holes.

        2. k
          Kelli2006 Oct 18, 2006 10:02 PM

          My mother taught me to make spaetzle with the largest opening of a rough shredder and the back of a large serving spoon. I have also used a serving spoon to force small bits of the dough through a large slotted spoon.
          You can buy a special spaetzle maker, but I don't make it that often and in large enough quantities to make it worthwhile.

          1. Snackish Oct 18, 2006 10:03 PM

            I have a spaetzle maker - a little bin that slides back and forth above a holed cheese-grater looking thing. I have never used it though.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Snackish
              rainey Oct 18, 2006 11:32 PM

              I have one too. It was cheap and it works pretty well. At first I thought the small size of that little sliding hopper would be a disadvantage but, in fact, it gives me more control.

              I have used my ricer too and it also does a good job. In fact, I use my ricer for mashing potatoes, making spaetzle and as a food mill. Best $12 gadget I've got!

            2. g
              GG Mora Oct 18, 2006 10:07 PM

              A swiss chef, Max Suhner, taught me to make spaetzle the way his grandmother did. A smallish glob of the “dough” on a wooden cutting board, cut off with a long knife directly into the water. Getting the size right takes some practice...my early ones looked like giant garden slugs.

              1. JoanN Oct 18, 2006 10:23 PM

                I inherited my grandmother's spaetzle maker and have used it a couple of times, but it's a real pain in the neck. I find it much easier to use a ricer.

                1. pikawicca Oct 20, 2006 12:09 AM

                  I love my spaetzle maker, and wouldn't dream of using anything else. It's very easy to use. (And cheap!)

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: pikawicca
                    JoanN Oct 20, 2006 12:53 AM

                    I wonder if my grandmother's just doesn't work properly any more. Or maybe you have a different kind? Could you describe yours, pikawicca, or perhaps find a picture of it? Maybe it's time to toss grandma's and buy a new one?

                  2. pikawicca Oct 20, 2006 01:25 AM

                    Well, the thing is basically two parts: one looks like a flat, coarse grater, and lies over the pot of boiling water. The second part is a hopper that fits into grooves on the flat part. You dump the spaetzle batter into the hopper and slide the hopper back and forth over the grater. this sounds way more complicted than it is. The dough is forced through the grater in the right amount, and perfect little noodly goodness is produced every time. I can't imagine this gizmo not working for anyone.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: pikawicca
                      JoanN Oct 20, 2006 01:38 AM

                      Sounds exactly like what I've got. I wonder if maybe the hopper part got warped or something. I'll have to take a closer look at it. Thanks.

                      1. re: pikawicca
                        hummingbird Oct 20, 2006 05:26 AM

                        I have one that sounds just like yours - it cost me all of $3.00 at Homegoods. It is made by VillaWare.

                        Here's exactly like mine that I bought for $3.00:


                        I use it all the time, works great.

                        Rinse, then put it in the top rack of dishwasher.

                        1. re: hummingbird
                          pikawicca Oct 20, 2006 07:29 PM

                          This is quite a bit smaller than mine, but looks to be more solidly built. The basic idea is the same, though.

                      2. j
                        jaz33063 Nov 16, 2006 09:28 PM

                        I use a spaetzle / kartoffelpresse that I bought in Germany. I have seen them on http://www.germanplaza.com for about $60 U.S. I paid $65 Euro for mine. I wouldn't use anything else.

                        1. g
                          gilliankeith Nov 29, 2006 02:55 PM

                          In the event that any of these fabulous inventions aren't working for you, you can also do it in the style of my boyfriend's family in Germany, they tilt the bowl so the batter slowly flows to the edge of the bowl and scrape batter directly into the boiling water. You have to hold it so the knife blade is flat against the rim of the bowl, and scrape off the batter as it flows a little past the rim of the bowl. It is more time consuming than any of the pressing methods, but makes soooo wonderful spaetzle. The nice thing is that the pieces don't come out all uniform... it's more of a homemade feeling.

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