Fresh noodle making is quick and easy with a manual or electric pasta machine. After successfully making your noodles, all that’s left to do is dry them. But is a drying rack for pasta necessary for this step?
The short answer is no. It is not necessary. Still, drying your noodles is ideal for the best results.
So, here’s a guide on why pasta drying is essential and what can you use in place of a drying rack.
Is Drying Fresh Pasta Necessary?
First things first: why do we have to dry homemade noodles? Well, it’s mainly because freshly cut pasta from your machine can be too delicate and sticky.
If you cook the noodles right away, your pasta strands will likely clump together while cooking them in boiling water. Your fresh macaroni or penne noodles will not hold their shape, either, if you skip the drying process.
For stuffed pasta like fresh ravioli, drying also keeps the small pouches intact and prevents the filling from spilling out.
Like drying meats in salt, the extra step of drying your fresh noodles is an effective preservation technique, too. Removing excess moisture prevents microbial growth and extends shelf life.
When and for How Long Do I Dry Fresh Pasta?
The time when to dry your noodles depends on your dough. Some are too sticky to be cut into strands, while others are dry enough for shaping.
Here are a few pointers you need to remember:
- Dry your sticky or thin dough sheets for 15 minutes before cutting them into shape. Lay the sheets on a baking tray, lightly dust the top with flour and leave them to dry.
- Cut the less-moist dough into shape, then dry for 15 minutes before cooking. Lay your shaped noodles on a floured surface or tray and leave them to dry. You can also use a drying rack for pasta.
- Dry your pasta shapes for 12 to 24 hours in a cool, dry place for long-term storage. Turn your noodles every few hours and keep them dusted with flour. Completely dried noodles should snap (not bend or flex) when you try to break them.
Note that you can use a low-speed fan and aim it towards your noodles to speed up the drying process. Once dry, store your noodles in an airtight container and place them away from extreme temperatures.
What is a Pasta Drying Rack?
A pasta rack is a kitchen tool made for drying fresh noodles. It aims to ensure even air circulation for noodles to dry completely.
As fresh pasta dough often contains eggs, thorough drying is crucial in avoiding spoilage and mould or harmful bacteria growth.
There are several types of drying tools available. Some look like a window screen where you can lay out your noodles across. This type can also double as a drier for fruit or vegetable slices.
The most popular type is one that looks like a dish rack. With this tool, you need to drape your noodles across each dowel. It also folds down for compact storage.
Are you a DIY enthusiast? You can create a makeshift drying rack, too, if you like.
Do I Need a Drying Rack for Pasta?
If you are in a small home or kitchen, you may not have enough space to dry your fresh noodles. In this case, a space-saving rack comes in handy. Also, a drying rack keeps your noodles protected from curious children or pets at home.
It’s a convenient tool to have if you make fresh noodles in large batches. That means you won’t have to lay and clean up so many trays.
However, if you do not make fresh pasta noodles often, a drying rack may not be necessary. Drying small portions of pasta nests may be a better option in this case.
What Can I Use in Place of a Pasta Drying Rack?
Just because you don’t have a drying rack doesn’t mean you cannot make noodles from scratch. So, I made a list of drying rack alternatives you can use instead.
Baking Sheet or Tray
Your baking sheet or tray is not only for cakes or cookies. You can also use it for drying your fresh noodles.
When you do this, it’s best to spread the pasta strands in a single layer for better air circulation. Making small pasta nests or mounds is also another drying technique.
This drying method may take longer, though. It depends on noodle size, temperature and humidity. So, try stirring or turning the noodles a few times for even and fast drying.
Laundry Drying Rack
When it’s not laundry day, make pasta from scratch! Then use your laundry rack to dry your cut noodles. A collapsible clothesline also works well.
But if you don’t have either, you can use plastic coat hangers. Just pop them onto any hook, cabinet handle or doorknob, then hang your noodles onto each hanger.
Backs of Chairs
Now, any home should have this pasta drying rack substitute. When it’s not dinner time yet, pull out a few dining chairs and use their backs for draping your noodles.
OK, using a food dehydrator is not a simple drying hack. But if you do have one at home, it’s the easiest and fastest way to dry your noodles for storage.
It is also the best method to use if your noodles contain eggs. To start, set your dehydrator to 57C. Then arrange your fresh noodle strands in a single layer onto the trays.
Load them into the dehydrator and dry for 2 to 4 hours.
Dry Your Pasta Safely
Drying your noodles means exposing them to room temperature for a few minutes to several hours. So, no matter which drying rack for pasta you use, make sure the area is clean.
Position your rack away from moisture or heat. For safety, put it away from areas where pests are likely. Also, it will be best to place it somewhere away from pets or kids’ reach.
Of course, the first step is to make your homemade noodles. Not sure where to start? Here are the ingredients, tools and steps you need to begin!