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Anyone know about pasta machines?

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  • Fuffy Dec 1, 2011 06:57 AM
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I must buy a pasta machine as a present for for an enthusiastic young cook but I know nothing. Marcella Hazan writes :"The only kind of pasta machine that you should consider is the kind that has one set of parallel cylinders, usually made of steel, for kneading and thinning the dough and a double set of cutters, one broad for fettuccine the other for tagliolini very narrow noodles."
It seems that the Imperia SP150 is preferred above the Atlas, but there is only
one Imperia which is labelled "double cutter" and no other machines are labelled "double cutter" - can that be that the Imperia double cutter is only machine that fulfills Marcella Hazan's requirements?
Any advice on buying a pasta machine would be most welcome.

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  1. i have a fair amount of experience with pasta machines, and you definitely won't go wrong with most imperia. I have specifically used the sp150 and it would be great for home use, I used it in a professional kitchen and it was a bit of a stretch for large production work, but for home would be great. It worked well and is a solid little unit.

    1. Imperia, Marcato, Atlas. I just looked at all of them online and they all had double cutters. The most important things I would tell you about pasta machines is never WASH them with WATER. They will rust and be destroyed. (I worked at a Kitchen store and people would bring them back complaining they didn't work---oops, yes I did wash it. Also, 90% of the time, I don't use the cutters at all because I'm making lasagna, ravioli or what wide noodles which are easy to cut by hand. (the machine should cost in the neighborhood of $70 US.)

      5 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        Does anyone know which store in NYC has the best selection of pasta making machines?

        1. re: escondido123

          Does anyone have a suggestion for the best kind of brush to use for cleaning?

          1. re: christy319

            just a pastry brush

          2. re: escondido123

            I'll admit to being guilty of doing this recently. I was very frustrated after an ill-fated batch of ramen noodles. I let them dry too much before cutting and the sheets wouldn't pull into the cutter and wouldn't stay straight once they did. I ended up tossing about half of the dough.

            I somehow talked myself into thinking that my Mom's that I used growing up had carbon steel rollers and that mine has chromed or stainless ones, so it shouldn't be a problem. So, I hand washed it in the sink. Oh well, now I know better.

            My cutter was squeaky even before this. Can/should I lubricate it? What would you use? I picked up a tub of food-grade grease for my sausage stuffer, so that's the first thing that comes to mind (a little in the crank end to try to get it into whatever bearing is there.

            1. re: ted

              This probably won't help with the cutter per se but it suggests that the machinery can be reassembled properly by hand if you trust your mechanical skills enough to take it carefully in the first place.

              http://desiredcreations.com/howTo_TLA...

          3. if the person you are buying for has a stand mixer, i suggest skipping all of these and going with the stand mixer attachment pasta rollers and cutters.

            8 Replies
            1. re: mattstolz

              Yup. That way, nobody gets stuck having to crank. :o)

              1. re: mattstolz

                Totally lame. Those are around 150 bucks best-priced from Amazon.

                1. re: mattstolz

                  If you are always the crank person, it is not lame.

                  1. re: pdxgastro

                    Unless you're cooking for hundreds, cranking isn't an issue. It takes me no time at all to crank a batch of pasta dough into fettucine.

                    1. re: christy319

                      Agree with the cranking issue being a non issue, but most of the pasta machines are made so that motors can be attached if you see it necessary. Cranking is still fine for me, but I might upgrade to a motor later on.

                    2. re: pdxgastro

                      I make pasta alone generally and find cranking my Imperia a bit annoying--not from being hurried but because it would be nice to have both hands free just to ease handling the long sheets that come out.

                      The add-on motors for the manual machines are at least as expensive as the KitchenAid attachment, and I've been unwilling to shell out such cash.

                      1. re: Bada Bing

                        Bingo, Bada Bing! It is easier with 2 people: 1 to crank and 1 to guide the pasta in and catch it coming out. Having a motor eliminates one person.

                        1. re: Bada Bing

                          i definitely agree with this. its so much faster and easier to have both hands free... one to feed the cutter/roller and one to catch the sheet of dough as it falls!

                    3. I did an extensive online search of opinions recently and I found both the Atlas and Imperia were very popular. I went with the Atlas and have no complaints--it works perfectly.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: christy319

                        Are there meaningful differences between the Atlas and Imperia machines? What attachments do you need to buy separately?

                        1. re: Sid Post

                          No meaningful differences as far as I can tell, although I've only used an Atlas a couple of times. They both come with nearly identical double cutters. As for attachments, what you need depends on what you want to make. Simple ribbon cutters work fine, but if you check out posts on this and other boards, more complicated attachments such as the ravioli makers, do not get rave reviews. Some are just silly, like the $30 lasagna attachment that cuts each sheet into 3 strips with wavy edges (you could do the same thing with a $3 pastry cutter). I do recommend one accessory. A 2- or 3-inch c-clamp (depending on how thick your countertop is), available at your local hardware store. Pasta machines only come with one clamp, and they tend to shift a lot when cranking. A second clamp keeps them nice and steady.

                      2. I found the Imperia machine with the double cutter at the Walmart in an "Italian" neighbourhood in Toronto. I've had great success with it. It was something like $59 on sale (a steal, IMO). I was considering the pasta roller attachment for my KA stand mixer but decided that I didn't want to spend that much.

                        I agree with escondido123 that you should never ever ever wash your pasta machine with water. I use a pastry brush and brush off as much flour as I can and then turn it upside down and give it a good shake over the sink. Then, back into the box it goes.

                        I always tighten the vice over a piece of old silpat (or some silicone baking mat) to make sure the machine doesn't slip or damage my countertop.

                        Making pasta is so, so much fun and to me, with a glass of wine, soooo relaxing: the smell, the cranking, the silky texture of the pasta - I wish I was doing it right now! When cranking solo, I use my (clean) forearms to catch the pasta, so prepare to be covered in flour!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: ladooShoppe

                          I've got an old Atlas+cutters the frau and I splurged on as broke grad students when Eaton's was listing badly and selling off stuff cheap. It's utterly bullet-proof and still working perfectly. Agree that the specialty cutters are semi-functional junk. There's satisfaction in rolling and cutting up a bunch of fettuccine and drying it all over the kitchen for a good nosh later in the day. Ours gets brushed off after use and dusted with a bit of flour+corn starch before work.

                          1. re: ladooShoppe

                            Er, if you're not going to wash a pasta machine, what happens when someone drops meat blood or something on the thing? Would you throw out a two-hundredish dollar machine?

                            1. re: shezmu

                              In all my years using a pasta machine, I have never dropped anything in it or on it. If it were to happen, I'd probably clean it out by making a throwaway batch of pasta.

                              1. re: Jay F

                                Yeah, the issue is pretty far-fetched. Like what if I drop meat or blood in my toaster. Possible? Yes. Likely? No.

                                But I expect your query comes from a more general sense of worry about hygiene when something's not washed. It's true, and I don't understand why, that I don't worry much about smooth metals like pasta machines and knives, etc., which have had all visible surface stuff removed and a good chance to air dry. (How often does one actually use a pasta machine--the bacteria can only hang on so long!)

                                1. re: Bada Bing

                                  Never use mine at crime scenes or bar fights and you shouldn't either.

                                  1. re: Kagemusha

                                    Rim shot.

                          2. While I would stick with the manual, I have four "automatic" machines.
                            I enjoy the takka pastamatic. My son and I use it a lot to make pretzels. The older cuisinart is decent as well. For reference, I picked a spare of each machine from a thrift shop for spare parts - why I have four. Many years ago I had a party at the house where we had a couple of people with their manual machines and my automatic one. I was faster and less clean up. They also had to remain sober longer :)

                            1. Make sure it is made in Italy, and not China. The Chinese ones I have seen were crap. I found a couple of good name ones at my local thrift store for $12 ea on a half off day.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: BIGGUNDOCTOR

                                Inspired by this topic, and having owned a poorly functioning pasta maker a long time past, I just purchased an 'Imperia dal 1932' for 50 dollars at Home Sense, a Canadian company owned by TJMaxx. I suspect that the previously owned pasta maker was regifted to me. ;) Home Sense also had the 'Titania' for 40 dollars.

                                http://imperia.com/prodotti/imperia_i...

                                Edit: Sorry BIGGUNDOCTOR - thought that I replied to the OP - sorry for the confusion.