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I'm making pasta from scratch pretty much every day now. Any time I cook long noodles, they break up once I toss them gently in the sauce after boiling. What could I improve to make them stronger?

Preparation

I don't use recipes, just go by how the pasta looks and feels, so unfortunately unable to provide any measurements. I also only use the semolina-water mix (S Italian style), so not sure if there are some specific things I should do/look for when prepping my dish.

The texture of my dough seems right, smooth and dense like Play-Doh. I only knead until smooth all throughout, not necessarily 15-20 minutes like some recipes say. I've noticed when I press into the dough ball, it doesn't bounce back very quickly like some online demos show. Not sure if that's an indicator I need to add more flour or knead more.

I usually let the dough rest in the fridge for a few hours or overnight-- i.e. I usually just mix it up in advance and forget about it until the next dinner hah

I roll the dough with a pin until it's a little see-though and then cut into .5-1 inch strips depending on the recipe. The noodles are well dusted to keep from sticking to each other.

I cook for about 30 seconds in salted water and then cook the rest of the way in my sauce.

The pasta never tastes overcooked, it has a nice bite to it. The dish turns out delicious, just disappointed when the noodles break up in half or thirds :)

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  • Flour and water might be the only ingredients typical in dry pasta, but fresh pasta is a completely different dish. Serious Eats did a study of fresh pasta last year, including variations on how mich egg to use: seriouseats.com/…
    – Joe
    Feb 28 at 19:32
  • @Joe Oh do you mean the semolina-water recipe has to be dried??
    – Ryan
    Feb 28 at 19:35
  • @Joe I guess I don’t mind using egg but was keen to stick with semolina for health reasons hmm… thanks for sharing the article, will read through it!
    – Ryan
    Feb 28 at 19:37
  • Bon Appetit channel was my first reference for pasta shaping with semolina dough, I assumed they were used fresh because they include stuffed pasta examples: youtu.be/Ew-3-8itpjc
    – Ryan
    Feb 28 at 19:45
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    It doesn’t have to be dried, but it’s just not as sturdy as pasta with eggs in it (especially egg whites)
    – Joe
    Feb 28 at 19:57

1 Answer 1

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Traditionally in Italy, hand made semolina pasta is generally of the shorter/thicker kind, such as orichiette or cavatelli, and not long/thin strips. Maybe try some of those instead.

Industrially processed semolina pastas such as spaghetti or lasagna are made using extrusion equipment at high pressures, which I believe strengthens them. Not sure if you could do this by hand to be honest.

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  • pici is a hand-rolled noodle, made with flour and water, common in Tuscany and Montalcino. It can easily be several inches long. Certainly thicker than the OP's rolled out noodle, but just pointing out that semolina-water pasta isn't always short types.
    – moscafj
    Mar 1 at 1:52
  • Helpful— so the dough is essentially better for a denser pasta shape, regardless of length. I also had success with this dough and ravioli, but I think the shape supports holding it together.
    – Ryan
    Mar 1 at 9:07
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    @moscafj : pici is rather thick, so although it may be long, it’s not as slender as most strand pasta.
    – Joe
    Mar 1 at 9:10
  • @mascafj - yeah but pici is still much thicker than something like spaghetti. I said "shorter/thicker". I think the issue here is the noodles the OP describes are probably both longer and thinner, which is why they are so fragile and breaking up.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 1 at 11:14
  • @Joe ....as I state in my comment. Yes, that is correct.
    – moscafj
    Mar 1 at 11:18

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