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Reposting - how to dry pasta noodles in a "nest" without sticking

I am not understanding something on how to dry homemade pasta noodles, e.g. fettucini.

Several web postings say to loosely curl them into a "nest" to dry but if I do they turn to a sodden mush. If I try to dry them enough ahead of time (over the back rung of a chair), they are not flexible enough to curl and they break.

It does not seem to matter how much I flour them.

I'm baffled.

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  1. Are you doing fresh egg pasta with all purpose flour, or semolina with just water? I have had good luck drying semolina pasta in nests. Fresh egg pasta I usually hang for brief drying...just until I get the rest of the batch made. I have made floury "nests" (more like mounds) of fresh egg pappardelle and other wide noodles, but not dried for storing.

    1. hi. i used to grapple with the same problem until a pal came over and set me straight. first, make sure your pasta is the right consistency going into the machine. i usually roll itthrough the machine a few times, let it sit a bit to dry and then put it through the fettucine setting on my ancient machine. don't let them overdry before nesting them. it takes a few times to get the hang of it but once you get it right, you'll be knocking yourself on the head! it's hard to put into words but i sort of grab it very loosely and wrap it around my hand. don't overthink it and be as natural as possible.

      i throw some flour or semolina on them and give them sort of a little shake and to be sure they are separated.

      buona fortuna! let us know how you do!

      p.s. last time i made them i left them on my table to dry and my chesapeake bay retriever ate them all.

      1. I am making egg nooles with a mix of white flour and semolina. I will try the techniques. Thanks!

        What did you mean, Potterstreet, when you said "shake them to make sure they are separated?" They will be in contact with each other when loosely looped into a nest.

        1 Reply
        1. re: SkipII

          i think potter meant to fluff with the flour...i usually toss my nests with flour in my hands and this seems to work

        2. The dough should be very stiff and dry so when it's rolled into sheets and cut, it isn't sticky at all. Instead of using flour, use cornstarch. It is much better at keeping the strands separate, unlike flour which is absorbed. It's what all Chinese use when making noodles to make sure nothing sticks.

          1. It does sound as if your pasta dough is too moist to start with. Cut back a little on the mositure or add a bit of flour. Flour's moisture content fluctuates with the amount of humidity in the air. It's not always going to work with a set formula.

            1. hi, yes, thanks sixelagogo, i did mean fluff with flour.

              i always use semolina, but the cornstarch idea is sort of intriguing. i love getting new ideas!

              1. As potterstreet said, it helps to let the sheets of pasta dry for a few minutes before running through the cutter. I usually roll out first into the thin sheets, and hang just long enough to finish rolling the whole batch of dough. This settles any surface moisture and helps prevent the noodles sticking together as they come through the cutting blades. Dust lightly with flour and - yes - fluff before nesting.

                1. i had the same problem as you until i used a food processor to make the dough. when i made it by hand it was WAY more moist. in the food processor it comes out much drier and is not at all tacky when rolled out. also be careful with traditional egg pasta - i read quite a bit of information on possible problems stemming from the eggs. You may want to try the eggless variation. (it's just what I read - I'm not sure all of the reasoning -maybe someone can help clarify).

                  1. There is a pasta nest maker. You take your cooked pasta and place in a "wire cross hatch" small bowl that has a long handle and another same type bowl and handle on a hinge. Then you close the top part and clip handles together. Fry til golden brown, remove and place on paper towels to absorb fryer fat. Nest is done and fill with whatever you like.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: johnchase

                      She's talking about making the cut pasta into a curled sort of nest shape for storing it uncooked. We had discussed on an earlier thread that it was almost impossible to store home made fettucini but a "nest" would do the trick.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        If it's only a storage issue, you can lay the fettucini out straight, hang it in a pasta rack or nest. I do it all the time with everything from angel hair to tagliatelli. If he's making the pasta old school Italian style, he can't go wrong. Semolina flour is best but can use others. Throw a pound or more flour depending how much you want to make on a clean surface (cutting boards are too small) into a pile, take your hand and make a hole in the center of the flour about 4 inches in diameter. Crack your eggs in the hole (egg yolks or whole eggs per your preference),then with a fork go around the inside of the flour hole and in a circular motion incorporate the eggs slowly until the dough is the right consistency. There is always some flour left over for dusting the table to roll the pasta out and for kneading if it's too moist.

                    2. I know what you want to do, because I like to buy both angel hair and fettucine in the nested format. Don't know why, exactly, except that it tickles me.

                      Anyway, when I first started making pasta with an Atlas machine I was following the recipe book, and it just wasn't making what I thought of as "dough". It was a dry but gummy gritty mass that went from sticky to crumbly. Then I was told to wrap it and rest it for half an hour, then press it as flat as it would go and feed it through the rollers at the widest setting, and to keep doing it until it stopped falling apart. Then click to the next setting and roll, and keep doing that until I had a thin sheet. By the time it got to that point it was dry to the touch and leathery, and I could cut it with the finest roller and those strands would never stick together.

                      I am therefore assuming that your dough is simply too wet. Until it's worked enough to develop gluten it should be pretty crumbly - you should be able to mash it down with the heel of your hand, and get it thinner with a plain rolling pin, but it should not be sticky at all at this point.