Help me clean my grandma's old pasta roller
March 15, 2011 4:49 PM   Subscribe

Inherited old Italian pasta roller, how to clean?

So I have this old heavy Italian pasta roller that my grandma left me because I'm the only one that has stuck with the labour intensive task of fresh pasta making. I learned how to use this roller when I was seven and after a long break of not making pasta and then making it with a rolling pin and a godawful mixer attachment it's mine again!

The only problem is that is smells like old flour after not being used for years. Not a bad smell or a bacteria smell but a smell that I wouldn't want to impart to new pasta all the same. My grandma is dead and my mother doesn't exactly know what to do other than to not use soap and water. She was really adamant about this. Her other suggestion is to run a throwaway batch of dough through the machine a bunch of times.

I'm wondering if this is the best way to clean it? Is not using liquids to clean is generally good advice on these things? It's not terribly old it's made in the early 70's I think and the box it came in is all Italian and has no care instructions that I can make out.
posted by penguinkeys to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Don't wash it. If a wipe with a cloth won't do, try making a dummy batch of dough and roll it through.
posted by hawthorne at 5:06 PM on March 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would probably second that; run a couple of sacrificial batches of dough through and see if it smells any better. It may be less a permanent smell than one of neglect.

If you can figure out who the manufacturer was, you might be able to find out information online. Some of those companies are indestructible.
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 5:08 PM on March 15, 2011

This guide to the Marcato Atlas suggests a dowel rod or a brush. Pasta machines have remained much the same over the years, I think, so these instructions may be of use.
posted by Francolin at 5:09 PM on March 15, 2011

I'd use a thing of canned air to blow all the old flour out then run some junk dough through to get any of the stuck on stuff to come off.
posted by foodgeek at 5:15 PM on March 15, 2011

Follow the advice in the link Francolin provided. I have the model (and the instruction booklet!) from that link and it isn't too much effort to clean the machine out the way they suggest. It may be more difficult to get 40-year old gunk out though, so the advice to run a dough batch through is sound. It should take only a portion of a batch to accomplish this task I would think. You need not waste that much dough!

The reason you ought not to use water is that it would be quite difficult to get the machine completely dry afterward; rust is probably not a flavour you want to impart on your pasta!
posted by just_ducky at 5:20 PM on March 15, 2011

Hmm, i was going to jump in and say that if you don't want rust, then use some form of evaporating alcohol (Isopropyl?). However, the thought just occurred to me that maybe using water (or any liquid) is bad advice because it will tend to make anything still in there sticky and even less removable...

Short of stripping it down and cleaning and drying individual parts, I'm nth'ing that running a clean batch of dough may be the best bet - or possibly taking it to a shop for a blast with a compressed air gun (along the lines of the canned air, but more grunt).
posted by MatJ at 5:49 PM on March 15, 2011

Conan the contrarian here. If a sacrificial batch of dough (or two) doesn't clean it to your satisfaction AND if it's all metal and hard plastic, no wooden or soft plastic parts, I wouldn't hesitate to boil it for an hour or so, pour and shake all the water out, and while it's still hot, dry it in the oven at the lowest temperature setting, with the door propped slightly open.
posted by Bruce H. at 6:32 PM on March 15, 2011

Why not wash it with soap and water and a brush, rinse it, then set it under a blow dryer.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:13 PM on March 15, 2011

Thank all of you for backing the dough suggestion and telling me to use forced air and thanks to Francolin for the link (Same manufacturer but not the same model of course as mine is old). I used the brush first, disassembled it partially, cleaned excess flour and whatever again with my shop compressor, put it back together, and ran some dough through it that was slightly more damp than I would normally use. Worked like a charm.
posted by penguinkeys at 8:44 PM on March 15, 2011

Glad you got it working, I was just going to chime in with the idea of running a couple of lumps of dough through it, and also to add to the chorus of NEVER GET IT WET!

The problem is, there's a lot of precision steel in there, but it's not stainless, and the internal gearing will rust faster than you can get it dry, even with an oven.

Also, I wanted to promote the idea that making pasta is actually SUPER EASY, and not labor intensive in the least. If you follow the traditional recipes (usually involving several cups of flour and a couple of eggs), you end up with an entire family's worth of pasta and that is pretty time-consuming to prepare.

But if you are just making a serving or two for a quick meal, try this:

Aquaman's "One Of Everything" Pasta Dough Recipe

1 cup white flour (or 3/4 white & 1/4 semolina if you have it)
1 large egg
1 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. olive oil
1 pinch salt

Process or knead for 2-3 min until firm, roll into ball, wrap in plastic, let rest for 30 min.

Divide into 4 pieces & run them through the pasta machine to the desired thickness. Makes 1 large, 2 medium or 3 small servings with about 5 minutes of work (not counting the half hour resting time).
posted by Aquaman at 10:17 PM on March 15, 2011 [4 favorites]

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