The Torchio Model B pasta press

I received my Torchio Model B last week and I have to say that it’s a thing of pure beauty. It’s solid, well made, and works just as well as I had hoped it would. The only real catch at this point it figuring out how to mount it to the counter in a better way but I’ll tackle that in a later post.

It might make sense for me to provide a little background as to how I got here. I’ve been making fresh pasta for a couple of years now. I started with a roller pasta press machine which for the money is 100% the way to get started in my opinion. I bought mine on Amazon for around $50 and I think it was a great investment. After awhile I started exploring different pasta shapes and found that KitchenAid made an extruder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. I find the attachment usable – but there are a couple of things I just don’t like about it. I have a normal KitchenAid mixer (not a pro version or anything) and it seems to put quite a strain on the mixer. Also – since it works on an auger based mechanism you never really get to use all the dough. Once it stops extruding and you take the thing apart you end up with a pretty decent sized chunk of unused dough. I’d usually run it through the pasta press just to use it up, but it was sort of a pain. Also – I found that the attachment works best with a looser dough and I really wanted to spend some time exploring other dough types (especially firmer ones).

So now fast forward a couple of years and I’ve been spending more time getting into milling my own flour. By some miracle I came across the blog of the Serious Bunburyist. Initially I was just glad to find his post on milling flour to use for pasta. Specifically the information about bolting the flour. But then I started browsing his other posts and found that he had this amazing Torchio pasta extruder. When I started looking at making my own pasta years ago I had come across the Torchio pasta press in a book. The advice in the book was pretty much “They don’t make these things anymore so if you find one in an antique store you should buy one”. I did some initial looking around and couldn’t find a new one for purchase so sort of gave up. When I saw the Serious Bunburyist had one I started looking into getting my own! I believe he got his (and I also got mine) from PastaBiz. Shipping was prompt and I received the press in less than a week from ordering it.

The first order of business was to figure out how to mount it. While the press is designed to mount directly onto a counter or bench I have granite counter tops so that wasn’t an option. As I wanted to start using it right away I simply screwed the Torchio to a piece of wood and then clamped it to the counter…

I made a basic dough recipe and let it rest for about an hour while I was getting the press mounted to the counter. More to come on a better mounting solution in a later post.

Now the obvious downside of having a press mounted this way is that the pasta is being extruded below the counter which means that you need to set your bowl or plate to catch the pasta in on a stool or bench underneath the counter. Not a big deal, but based on the length you wish to extrude you might need a lower chair etc. After the dough had rested I put half of it in the press and started extruding it. The press comes with two dies, a bigoli dies which is like a thick spaghetti noodle and a gargati which is like a sort of large rigatoni. I stared with the bigoli…

The extruding was easier than I thought it would be. The dough obviously has a lot to do with how easy it extrudes, and this was a firmer dough, but it took minimal effort to extrude. The handle slips on top of the drive screw and is long enough that you get a good amount of leverage to extrude with. After the pasta reached the length I wanted I slide a knife across the die to cut it off. I ended up with this…

Awesome! When dough was extruded I unscrewed the die to try out the next one. I was extremely pleased to see that this was all of the waste (or leftover) dough from the extrusion….

Awesome! The only dough left was the dough left in the die itself. More on cleaning the dies below…

Next I tried the other die…

I didn’t capture any pictures of the extrusion, but it was largely the same process. I would turn the handle one half crank, and then cut them off. It took more time obviously, but the gargati worked equally as well as the bigoli.

Now one of the things that you’re going to run into with any extruder based pasta machine is cleaning the dies. It’s a pain. The Serious Bunburyist describes his process here. It was pretty much what I expected but I thought using the water pick was an interesting idea. When I received my Torchio – it didn’t come with a manual and I was curious about the best way to care for the press. So I emailed PastaBiz and they got back to me right away. Here’s what they said about caring for the machine…

You will find that cleaning dies is more tedious than the Torchio itself. The general advice on dies is to remove as much loose dough as possible after extrusion using a metal pick tool like this or dowel. Please make sure to only pick from the backside (dough chamber side) to avoid damage to the die inserts. When as much loose dough as possible is removed, place the die in a storage container full of water and make sure the die is submerged. Place a few drops of white vinegar and store overnight. The next day, remove the remaining dough again with the pick tools or dowel. Compressed air or a high pressure water hose are very helpful. Warm water is also helpful. Make sure all pasta dough is removed before drying and storing. If you’re using the same die on a regular basis (every day or every few days) you can keep the dies in water, making sure to change the water daily. When you are ready to use the die remove as much loose dough as possible then run the die under warm (not boiling) water before inserting. Make sure to throw away the first bits of pasta as that is what cleans the die up.

Regarding the machine itself, do not machine wash or fully submerge the Torchio. You can use a damp cloth with any food safe cleaning solution to clean the inside of the dough chamber. I do not think you will have any issues with rust, rather, you will tarnish the finish a bit. The more exposure to water, the quicker this will happen.

One of our customers has a blog with fantastic Torchio content and recipes. You can check it out here, http://ibunbury.blogspot.com/.

Please let us know if you have any questions and enjoy the pasta making.

One of the things that didnt immediately click with me was that the only thing you really need to clean are the dies and perhaps the extrusion tube which pretty much happens by itself during extrusion. The tip about using high pressure water or air for cleaning the dies though was a great one. I don’t have a water pick and wasn’t super interested in buying one just for this. But I do have an air compressor! I ended up soaking the dies after their use and then cleaning them later. I think next time I may just try using the air compressor to blow the chunks of dough out right away. I’ll report back as to how that goes.

So as it stands now – I love the machine and Im extremely pleased with the customer service from PastaBiz. Stay tuned for more recipes, cleaning tips, and possible prototype counter mounting designs.

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