It didn’t take long for me to decide I preferred freshly made pasta over the store-bought variety. After literally one bite of the good stuff, I was hooked.
There was a time in my teenage years when I decided I hated spaghetti noodles. When my parents made spaghetti, I made my own side of penne. This phase didn’t last long, but after I had my first try of fresh noodles, just a few years ago, I realized my teenage self wasn’t all that wrong.
My personal preference has become homemade pasta because it tends to be a little thicker and smoother, whereas after cooking store-bought pasta, there’s a little bit of a stickiness that isn’t really present after mixing it with sauce. But it does have a different texture.
When I compare the two myself, fresh pasta comes out the winner, but is that really the case or am I just biased?
Xavier Godoy, owner of Mastrantos, 927 Studewood St., told me the key difference is dried pasta that’s bought at the grocery store has additives and preservatives.
With Mastrantos having a dough lab that produces freshly-made pasta daily, Godoy is familiar with the pasta-making experience.
He said if you’re comparing homemade versus store-bought, you’re really comparing an experience. At home you control the process, from how the pasta tastes to what it looks like. Yet, something store-bought pasta has that homemade doesn’t is consistency. When you buy spaghetti off the shelf, you know exactly what you’re getting.
Fresh pasta is usually made of flour, egg and water and dried pasta is made of semolina flour, salt and water. The latter is made without egg so it will last for much longer.
Dried pasta can sit on your pantry shelf for quite a long time. The texture of dried pasta after its cooked works with the sauces and causes the sauce to cling to the noodles. And most of the time when cooking, it grows in size.
Fresh pasta is more tender and cooks in half the time or less than dried pasta. Its texture makes it ideal for creamy sauces, and it’s healthier to eat.
In a way, the two can be seen as different products. They have different ingredients and they’re made differently. If that’s the case, there’s a time and place for both kinds of pastas.
If it’s a dish with a creamy or dairy-based sauce, fresh pasta is the way to go. If it’s a dish with hearty or oil-based sauce, go with dried. Except with a Bolognese ragu. Even though it’s hearty, it’s best with fresh pasta.
If you’re new to making pasta, Godoy said it’s easy, but you have to make it a few times to get used to doing it and not be distracted with following a recipe.
But if you get home late from work and your family is crying for dinner, throw in the closest pack of store-bought spaghetti you can find in a pot of boiling water on the stove.