Pasta is one of the world’s most beloved foods. It lasts almost forever in the cupboard, is easy to cook, and is infinitely customisable. It is available to buy everywhere, from online delivery businesses like Gigi’s Pasta to your local off-license. From slapdash butter and cheese creations on a weeknight, to hearty and authentic meals to impress, pasta can do it all. But which pasta is right for your dish? Fresh or dry? Read on to find out the differences.
It’s often thought that fresh is better than dry simply because it’s ‘fresh,’ but it’s not quite as simple as that. Fresh and dried pasta are actually two completely different foods, with entirely different ingredients!
It’s safe to say that dry pasta is probably more common. I’m willing to bet there’s some in your cupboard right now, in fact, probably from years ago. And that’s one of its major selling points: it pretty much never goes off! Made from semolina flour, water, and salt, it can be stored indefinitely at room temperature. When it comes to using it, this does mean cooking time is a bit longer than with fresh.
But, it’s easier to cook dry pasta with that perfect al dente bite, and the firmer texture and rigid shapes mean it will stand up better to a hearty Bolognese. The rougher texture on the surface of dry pasta means the sauce will cling better and you’ll get more flavour in every bite. There’s more variety when it comes to shapes, and most of those shapes will almost double in size when cooked. It’s cheap, widely available, and is easy to cook. It’s easy to see why it’s so popular!
But, if you’re willing to spend a little more, and have your meals for the week planned out, then fresh pasta may be better for you. If you’ve got a dairy-based dish like carbonara on the menu, and room in the fridge, then treat yourself to the fresh stuff.
Fresh pasta is made from eggs, so its shelf life is drastically shorter than that of dried pasta, but it cooks in next to no time, and lends a beautiful silky texture to those more indulgent meals. It’s not meant to be cooked al dente, and it can soon be overcooked into a mush with no texture, so make sure you’ve got your eye on the ball when it’s bubbling away on the stove.
So really, there is no easy answer. Fresh is not better than dry, and dry is not better than fresh. They both have their own ideal applications and benefits, whether that’s ease, texture, or time constraints. So think about what you’re cooking and make the right choice!