10 Best Pasta Makers | March 2017
- double-cutter can handle thick dough
- can be difficult to use on your own
- counter clamp is of poor quality
- integrated wire cutter
- plastic housing won't corrode
- takes very little time to make pasta
- dishwasher safe
- easily flattens dough
- handle may come out when rolling
- looks elegant in your kitchen
- six thickness settings
- clamps securely to countertops
- includes recipes and measuring cups
- safe and fun for kids to use
- easy to clean removable mixing bowl
- extremely high quality construction
- optional electric motor attachment
- two-year warranty
- makes up to four pounds per hour
- easy to clean components
- built-in bottom storage drawer
The Sacred Wheat
Growing up in an Italian-American household, my family was Roman Catholic by default. In our hearts, though, you could say we worshiped pasta. I definitely spent more of my childhood turning a fork through a pile of spaghetti than I spent contemplating the beatitudes.
The pasta of those days had already begun a dangerous transformation. By the time I was born, certain companies bent on increasing crop yields at the cost of long-term soil and water quality, and most importantly, at the cost of their consumers' health and wellness took to modifying the genetic makeup of their wheat crops.
Genetically modified wheat is a gross mutation of the primary ingredient in pasta that my ancestors enjoyed for so many centuries. It's literally been mutated by blasts of radiation to make it more invulnerable to things like pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that reduce workloads on farms and save big agricultural firms countless millions of dollars. It's like a bad superhero story in which, instead of gaining powers by his or her exposure to radiation, a character becomes toxic. It's the origin story of a supervillain.
All this is why, at a time like this, it's almost imperative that you make your own pasta. It's a blinding coincidence that incidences of Celiac disease and gluten intolerance have emerged in perfect conjunction with the evolution of GMO wheat products and their attendant chemical agents.
Having a pasta maker vice-locked into place against your countertop allows you to take complete control over the ingredients that go into you pasta, to use non-GMO wheat products and to make a tastier dinner than you could have ever imagined.
That is, perhaps, the most appealing thing about a pasta maker. By simply creating your own pasta dough and feeding it through these machines, letting the rollers on one attachment flatten out the dough, and the rollers of another pull the flat dough through teeth spaced to cut it into long strips, you get to experience a flavor that no store-bought pasta could possibly give you. The freshness, the texture, and the taste of fresh pasta is unparalleled, and its health benefits compared to the stuff in the box is undeniable.
The Plug Or The Hand?
At first glance, it might not seem like there are a lot of differences among the pasta makers on our list. To a certain extent that's true. Pasta makers are mostly uniform due to a kind of perfection in their mechanical design. Other attempts at more unique or innovative pasta makers have all fallen flat through the years because this design is so simple and so effective.
That said, there are some important differences for you to consider before making your purchase, not least of which is whether to go with a manually operated pasta maker or an electric one.
Manually operated pasta makers require you to crank a large handle to turn the rollers that feed your dough through the maker. You don't need to be particularly musclebound to perform the operation, but you might start to feel it in your shoulder if you're at the task long enough. Electric pasta makers on the other hand have small, powerful motors built into them that operate the rollers, feeding the dough through automatically.
Part of the decision between them is practical: do you want to do that little bit of extra work to attain your perfect pasta? Another part of it, though, is aesthetic: do you want to adhere more closely to the traditional mechanical method of making pasta, or are you comfortable handing that task over to the machine entirely?
Personally, the workload on a manual maker is so light, and the reward feels so much greater, that I opt to do it by hand. If you have issues with arthritis or joint problems, or if you need to make larger quantities of pasta in a sitting, the electric models are the way to go. But you're going to spend some time making this dough from scratch, pouring a good deal of your heart and soul into the mix as you go, so I think it's best to stay as directly involved with the process as possible until the very end.
East To West
Bits of historical evidence, loose references, legends, and flat out lies season the origins of pasta like so many bits of Parmesan cheese. References to a food known as lagana in the first few Common Era centuries imply that the food was a kind of precursor to lasagna, as it consisted of flat sheets of fried dough which, in some cases, would be layered and stuffed with meat.
The thin strips of such dough we associate with pasta and the pasta makers on this list were likely an Arabic invention from roughly the fifth century. Some records imply that the Emirate of Sicily first encountered pasta at the hands of Arabs in the ninth century.
Then, there's the legend of Marco Polo, who supposedly traveled to China in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries and brought the concept of the noodle to the dough used in lagana and other Italian dishes of the time. There isn't a lot of evidence to back up this particular legend, unfortunately.
The pasta maker itself has equally cloudy origins, as the noodles were primarily made by hand for so many years. There is one reference in Greek mythology to a device Hephaestus used to make strings of dough, but mechanical pasta making didn't have a place on the scene until some time in the 1700s.
Late in that century, Thomas Jefferson brought back a pasta maker from France and eventually created a few of his own. In the 1800s, emigration to the United States from Italy began a steady rise that would bring all the delicious cuisine of the peninsular nation to American shores.