The Temperamental, And At Times, Soul-Crushing Process of Slow-Drying Pasta

Updated: Mar 12, 2020

Making fresh pasta is a joy. It’s Zen, it’s mesmerizing, it’s tactile, rewarding, creative and nourishing.

Making dried pasta, on the other hand, has been so incredibly difficult, frustrating, temperamental, mysterious, and at times, soul-crushing.

Why? Because we make 500-600 pounds of pasta and place it in our dryers overnight. When we pull it out in the morning, we can have the most beautiful, delicious pasta ever-

or tray after tray of pasta that cracks, crumbles or disintegrates in boiling water

Now, after 5 years of production, we get very little cracking - in the biz, it’s actually called “checking” - probably to make pasta makers feel better when they say it.

Why does this happen?

So many reasons - air temperature, humidity, the wrong drying recipe, putting too much or too little pasta on the trays, the hydration of the pasta is off. Zeus is in a bad mood. Mercury is out of alignment.

Why am I writing about this? Because as an artisan pasta maker, we do not have an R&D Dept or pasta technologists on staff, or a cadre of PhDs in Wheat Science assisting us.

We do not take shortcuts like industrial pasta manufacturers. We do not use Teflon dies or quick-drying techniques or make smooth, shiny pasta our goal.

We make our pasta in small batches, using bronze dies and create imperfect, rough pasta that is slowly dried.

It creates a finished product that clings to the sauce, has a tantalizing mouthfeel and tastes of pure, unadulterated wheat.

Then we hand pack all of it.

Actually, after writing this, I take back all the negative things I wrote about drying pasta.

It is a joy, it is the result of very hard work, attention to detail, passion for this incredible art and science of making pasta and a desire to nourish our friends and family with something we are proud of.

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Portland, Oregon 

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