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I am exploring the world of home-made pasta.

My first experiments, cutting the dough into stripes using a knife and throwing the stripes into the boiling water - eatable but with rather plump results, and a very cumbersome process! - show that if you want to do this on a frequent basis, you need tools.

I can see two generic types of tools here. One, much used in my native southern Germany to make the famous Spätzle, is sieve-based, using pressure to distribute threads of very thin dough directly into a kettle with boiling water.

The other system, often imported from Italy, is more popular, based on a number of barrels that you feed a flattened piece of dough to. The system will cut the dough into a regular form, ready for boiling. (I'm sure there is a simple english word for this but I don't know it. This is the way you make Spaghetti, for example.)

I'm looking for general tool recommendations for making pasta from both fields. While I'm looking to make primarily Linguine and Spaghetti, feedback is welcome for all forms of pasta. Tools should be suitable for frequent use.

I don't have much of a budget at the moment, so bonus points for especially affordable solutions that will let me make delicious Spaghetti all by myself!

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2 Answers 2

The two tools I have used to make my own pasta are rollers and extruders.

The extruder sounds similar to the pressurized tool you described above. It uses an auger like a meat grinder and produces round pasta like spaghetti. Shells and macaroni are also made by extruding. The material that the die is made from with affect the texture of the pasta surface. The one that I used was an attachment to a stand mixer and costs ~$100.

Pasta rollers have a couple precision rollers with variable spacing for forming the pasta and a set of cutters for slicing the pasta into linguine. There are various sized cutters- my cutters are just one size. The rollers are also a fairly simple machine and can be powered, a stand mixer attachment, or rolled by hand which I have. My hand cranked rollers cost ~$50 new.

Rollers are easy to get used because they are the kind of thing that people get for wedding gifts and never use- like yogurt makers. I got mine unused at a garage sale for $5. This bit of information may not be applicable to you in Germany. :)

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If you do significant amounts of pasta, getting rollers with a motor are well worth it. (growing up, a regular job for my brothers and I was spinning the crank when my mom was making pasta ... and as she'd make 4+ lasagnas at a time and freeze them, it'd take a while). –  Joe Oct 5 '10 at 0:06

You could use a spaghetti guitar, which has wires strung across a board, usually on both side with one side being more linguine like and the other being more spaghetti like, which you place your rolled past on and roll over with a rolling pin to get the cut pasta. The kids are using one in this blog post. I couldn't get the images to work properly for some reason.

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Also known as a chitarra in Italy. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Oct 4 '10 at 21:54

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