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I make a fair amount of homemade pasta (Mostly Tagliatelle or Linguine), and I tend to cook it fresh, rather than drying it and cooking from dry; however, it tends to clump and stick together in the pan when cooking. What can I do to minimise this, and make my homemade pasta behave a little more like store bought fresh pasta?

For reference, I'm using a fairly standard recipe of one egg per 100g of 'OO' flour; and I add salt and a little olive oil to the pan when cooking, as well as following all the normal steps that give successful results with store bought pasta - Could it be that I'm not working the dough enough, working it too much, or just down to not using the "correct" type of flour (semolina flour doesn't appear to be available in my area)?

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Are you putting sufficient salt in the water before putting the pasta in? –  Noldorin Aug 18 '10 at 8:37
    
When you say 'fresh', are you giving it any time to dry out? My mom and grandmothers would always let it rest for at least a couple of hours in a drying rack (looks like a couple of dowels through a larger dowel, with a base). It wasn't dry enough to put it up for storage, but I'd assume it'd dry out the surface starch if nothing else. –  Joe Aug 18 '10 at 10:33
    
You've seen this question? cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/403/… –  Tobias Op Den Brouw Aug 18 '10 at 10:42
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@Tobiasopdenbrouw That other question is linked from my question... –  Rowland Shaw Aug 18 '10 at 11:27
    
@Joe Typically I leave it to dry for only about 30 minutes –  Rowland Shaw Aug 18 '10 at 11:30
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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I have that problem when I am impatient and don't let the pasta dry out long enough before putting it on to boil.

It is important to let the pasta dry even just in loose little heaps once sliced into noodles. It doesn't have to get totally dry just dry enough that you can't squish the noodles back together into dough.

Also you need to cook fresh pasta for a very short amount of time in a LOT of water, about 1.5x as much water as you would use for dry, so that the noodles have less chance to run into each other. In fact I frequently don't boil them at all separately but just toss them in the soup I am serving them with for for a two to three minutes before serving.

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I just realized -- you gave measurements for pasta, and even though it's a weight and not volume, I'd still be suspicious.

Try the following method of mixing:

  • Pour out slightly more flour than the recipe calls for into a pile.
  • Mix any liquids in a small bowl.
  • Make a hole in the middle of the pile, so the flour pile kinda looks like a volcano. The hole should be able twice the size of the volue of liquid.
  • Pour the liquid in the hole.
  • Stir the liquid, slowly mixing in the flour.
  • Switch to using your hands when it starts forming into a ball.
  • Use the remaining flour as bench flour for kneading.

This way, the pasta will take in all of the flour that it can. You'll end up working in a little bit more as you're rolling it out.

Or, you can use the updated food processor method:

  • Put the flour in the food processor.
  • Add the egg(s), and blend.
  • With the processor running, slowly stream in your other liquids until the dough forms a ball.
  • Let the ball roll around for a minute or two to knead.
  • Dump it out onto the counter, and finish kneading by hand w/ more flour.

You also need to make sure to knock off any extra flour before cooking -- the racks for great for this, as you can just hit the pasta to knock off any loose flour. (I just kinda slap it back and forth a little bit). As Michael points out, the flour might help to dry out the pasta, so you might want to do this step just before cooking).

Also, consider using lots of water, in the biggest pot you have -- any loose flour will then get dissolved further, causing less overall problems. And consider not cooking it 'til it's done, but pulling it a minute or two early to finish cooking in whatever sauce you're going to serve it with. (yes, both of these are mentioned in the other thread, but worth mentioning again)

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Be sure and toss it with plenty of flour and let it dry for awhile. Lightly shake off the flour before boiling. The flour will dry out the surface of the dough, reducing the tendency to stick together when cooking.

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