Drying homemade pasta

Or storing it in the freezer

By
November 1, 2010

Is there any flavor difference between egg pasta and eggless pasta? Also, how do you (Hank) dry your pasta? How long can you store fresh pasta that you have dried, and should it be stored in the fridge?
— Asiyah A.

There most definitely is a flavor difference between eggy pasta and eggless pasta. The most common homemade fresh pastas — all-purpose flour mixed with eggs — have a subtle eggy flavor and a delicate texture. Eggless pastas, on the other hand, are usually made with semolina (milled from durum, a harder variety of wheat) and have a firmer texture and more neutral flavor.

The semolina noodles should stand up better to heavier sauces and ragus, while fresh egg noodles are a better showcase for lighter sauces.

When I dry pasta (not very often), I break out the Excalibur food dehydrator — one of several appliances I have stashed throughout the house in places that don’t make my wife too mad. (This one lives in the garage, on top of the supplemental-Belgian-beer dorm fridge and under the back-up sous-vide rig.) A couple of hours on a low-temperature setting dries fresh egg pasta very well.

Drying homemade pasta on a wooden spoon.

Commercial durum pasta is put through a more rigorous process of rapid, high-temperature pre-drying, followed by extended drying and resting steps. As Harold McGee explains in On Food and Cooking, the high-temperature method prevents discoloration and “cross-links some of the gluten protein and produces a firmer, less sticky cooked noodle.” When I find room for a commercial pasta dryer in my garage, I’ll let you know.

Assuming you’re a normal humanoid without a fiscally reckless kitchen-equipment fetish, you don’t need fancy machines to dry pasta. You can lay cut noodles out on a floured counter or sheet pan until dry, although they will dry faster if hung to allow better air circulation. Any number of vendors would be happy to sell you a pasta-drying rack for up to $40, but you can improvise one with a wooden spoon placed across the top of a wide pot or other container.

For high-volume drying, clean clothing hangers work well, too. Some home pasta driers advocate twirling small bunches of noodles into little nest shapes, but I can testify that these take much longer to dry completely.

A homemade pasta nest.

Incomplete drying is a problem, because damp pasta will quickly become moldy. There probably isn’t enough moisture to support the growth of nastier pathogens, however.

Completely dried pasta can be transferred to zip-top bags or other airtight containers and stored for several months. The refrigerator is unnecessary overkill. Drying is intended as a preservative step — what’s the point of drying it if you need to refrigerate it anyway?

However, if you’ve got some freezer space to spare, I have a superior idea for you. The standard homemade egg pasta is a relatively delicate noodle, and it can be downright flimsy when dried. The brittle dried noodles have a tendency to break apart, either during the storage/packing process or during cooking. They also lose some of the fresh, eggy flavor and charm of freshly made noodles.

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They actually freeze very well, however. Swirled into single-portion nests, you can freeze them separately and then bag them for long-term (at least a couple of months) freezing. (If you push it, they will eventually suffer from freezer burn.) When you want to cook your frozen pasta, it can go straight from the freezer into the boiling water, and you probably won’t notice a difference in cooking time.

Frozen pasta maintains its form, and its fresh flavor, better than the dried version. In fact, it’s so much better, I’m pretty sure I need to get a blast chiller ASAP.

Based in Portland, Oregon, Hank Sawtelle has engineering, legal, and culinary degrees.

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1. by JudithK on Nov 8, 2010 at 2:23 AM PST

Freezing stuffed pastas works also works very well. And if you can get a deal on 2 blast chillers...count me in!

2. by Chef Basket on Nov 17, 2010 at 5:22 PM PST

Thanks for this post exploring the processes of drying and storing pasta. I think using a food dehydrator for drying is a great tip!

3. by anonymous on Jan 28, 2012 at 4:46 PM PST

I dry my pasta on a wooden collapsible clothes dryer. First hang or tape wax paper onto each rod, then hang the pasta. The only downside to this is that some of the dried pasta has to be broken off the rods if they can’t be picked off easily.

4. by panzee19 on Apr 23, 2012 at 9:49 AM PDT

ridicoloussssssssssssssssssssss

5. by deccanheffalump on Jun 24, 2012 at 3:27 AM PDT

Thanks for this article. It has been a great help in making and freezing my first few batches of home made pasta.Drying pasta takes ages when the monsoon is going on (in India)and in summer (which ended last week) when its 42% C in the shade, its a bit unsafe to keep uncooked egg pasta at room temperature. Freezing is the answer!

6. by anonymous on Aug 8, 2012 at 7:23 PM PDT

Thanks so much for your tips they are great !!
can’t wait to make more pasta and dehydrate it.Keep the tips coming

7. by Jaime L on Sep 7, 2012 at 8:08 PM PDT

Hi, thank you again for these great tips. Made some spaghetti homemade tonight with the recipe on the above link for makeing homemade pasta.

I found some 00 flour at the local Wegman’s and I used the clean clothing hangar method for drying them. Should be dry by tomorrow morning. N

Next tackle, fresh lasagne noodles...

8. by anonymous on Jan 12, 2013 at 4:17 PM PST

Got a hand crank pasta machine for Christmas. Love it! Homemade pasta is SO superior to store bought egg-less pasta. Yes, egg pasta is brittle after being dried and we always lose some but not that much. I have a wooden drying rack to try next but have had good success with clean plastic coat hangers. I want to make some pasta to give to friends but I didn’t want to have any health problems for them either. Thanks to your post I think we’ll be OK just thoroughly drying on racks before giving as gifts. Thanks!

9. by anonymous on Jan 12, 2013 at 4:21 PM PST

I’ve been making my pasta with either Alta bread flour or semolina flour mixed half and half with the bread flour. Good results. I assure you that this is NOT a commercial as I have no association with the company where I buy my flour. I’ve been getting my flour from Honeyville Grains dot com and it’s all worked out well. Shipping is CHEAP!

10. by Ron on Jan 14, 2013 at 3:44 PM PST

If you cook your noodles until aldente and then dry they will not be brittle. Just remember when you do use them that they have been parboiled so don’t over cook them.

11. by anonymous on Feb 20, 2013 at 3:28 PM PST

Just a question with the storing process...
if i want to freeze it do i still have to dry it out first then freeze?

12. by anonymous on Feb 20, 2013 at 4:52 PM PST

If you’re going to freeze the pasta try putting it in little “nests” and just freeze on a cookie tray. Once frozen bag it up. You don’t need to dry it first. If you dry it on a rack just store it in a plastic bag for a couple weeks or more. It’ll work. Won’t kill you as you’ll boil the heck out of it when you cook. The fun is just trying different things.

13. by anonymous on Feb 20, 2013 at 10:27 PM PST

Excellent thank you.

14. by anonymous on Feb 22, 2013 at 4:41 PM PST

Thanks for the comment. A couple days ago I made pasta from my usual recipe. 1 c bread flour, 1 c. semolina flour, salt and a little olive oil. 3 eggs.

I cut it into fettucine. Instead of drying the pasta I just let it fall into nests out of my hand crank pasta cutter. And I put it on cookie trays and into the freezer.

Some people say that you should dust it with corn meal to keep it from sticking together but I just dusted it with bread flour and froze.

Cooked it tonight directly from the freezer into boiling salted water. Turned out GREAT! Ate it with sauteed onions and butter. FANTASTIC for a little Polish dude like me!

One thing I’ve noticed about homemade pasta is that it does NOT get all pasty like store bought pasta.

Plus....it’s fun to make!

15. by thomas mertz on Jun 10, 2013 at 8:19 PM PDT

Is there anything I sould do when drying or freezing Squid ink pasta ? I will be using an egg dough , and didn’t know if the ink changes anything ..
Also does anyone know where I can but just alittle ink ? maybe enought for 2-3 lbs of dough...

16. by anonymous on Aug 31, 2013 at 3:36 PM PDT

Bought a wire coated cloths rack that goes on the back of a door . But I stacked 2 filled plastic container on the table age then hanged it from that. Worked better than I thought. We dried it straight then places a serving and a half ( son’s size serving). As it was his request. Thanks it only lasted a week in the freezer . Our son says he loved eating it.

17. by alessandro on Jan 8, 2014 at 9:08 AM PST

I live in Zululand South Africa where the humidity gets up to 100%, all thats needed is a clothes horse infront of a fan or aircon for a few hours, then if you have excess place in freezer in a sealed plastic container for later, simply pop frozen into boiling salted water, easy job, bon appetito

18. by anonymous on Jan 21, 2014 at 4:12 PM PST

I love that your spouse is crazed by your excessive kitchen gadgets. I’m not alone! It’s like my version of a shoe fetish. Thanks for the different drying and freezing options. I made a little too much pasta for dinner tonight so wanted to know the best option.

19. by Laura Kidd on Sep 10, 2014 at 3:53 PM PDT

Help! I followed your instructions about freezing nests of tagliatelle and they seemed to work great. Tonight when I tried to cook them though I put them in a pan of boiling water and instead of thawing and separating in to the ribbons they just cooked in a doughy lump and were inedible. I’m really sad because I spent hours making the dough nicely (and I got really nice silky dough) and I have loads left in the freezer I’d like to be able to cook. Do you have any advice?

20. by Marc on Oct 25, 2014 at 8:45 AM PDT

Laura, I’ve had that happen and feel your pain. Likely what happened is that you either wound the nests too tightly together or they were too wet when you wound them up. In the future you let them dry a little before forming them into a nest or just make the best a little more open and loose. To salvage the nests you have, you might be able to get away with stirring the nests constantly while they cook. If they’re truly a solid mass this won’t work; but if you poke at them and stir with a big chop stick or wooden fork as they cook, you might have good luck and get them mostly apart. Good luck!

21. by anonymous on Nov 19, 2014 at 5:40 AM PST

Laura, same thing happened to me! I am making pasta today and I prefer to freeze it. What I can’t find an answer to is how long should I let it dry before I put it into little nests?

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Hank Sawtelle has engineering, legal, and culinary degrees, and an intense curiosity about food and cooking. Follow Hank’s blog, Sous Vide Jones.

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