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Have you ever wondered how orzo is made?  It’s so tiny and the oblong football shape can’t be created just by making even cuts of a longer noodle.

dry orzo in bowl
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Tiny miracles of pasta – orzo!
[photo by Stephen Jackson on flickr, CC2.0]

Apparently it’s a super-secret secret how it’s made because it was almost impossible to find information about the process.  There are lots of videos about making spaghetti noodles but nothing for orzo.  After watching about 10 different videos, I was able to sort of piece it all together.  (Never mind that Ron thinks I’m completely crazy.  He kept asking me, “Why are you watching another video about a pasta factory?”)

Orzo (and other pasta!) Making Videos

I like this long video because it captions each step (and you can watch it on mute if you want – no annoying music to make you or your neighbors go crazy – without missing a thing).   At 3:30 it briefly explains the extruder process.  Then at 8:26 it shows macaroni and other extruded pasta shapes being made.  Of course, not orzo.  But other extruded pasta shapes.

Notice that the trimmed ends of the spaghetti are recycled back into the dough to be used again. Just like when you’re making cut-out cookies and you re-roll your scraps after each batch is cut. Of course they don’t tell us what happens to the extra bits when they cut the dry spaghetti noodles to length. I’m guessing that means they get thrown away.  Seems pretty wasteful though. 

What could you do with a u-shaped spaghetti noodle that is about an inch long? What name could we give to that shape? I checked the pasta shapes dictionary but nothing matches.

Here’s a video of orzo being made.  The machine moves so quickly that you can’t really see anything but the speed makes sense.  After watching other extruded pastas being squeezed and cut, it’s clear that the speed of the cutting blade controls how long each noodle is.

Looking for some slower extrusion action?  Check out this video of various pasta shapes squeezing out. It reminds me of those Play-Doh toys we had as kids.  Remember the barber shop?

Handmade Orzo

I found this video of someone making orzo by hand. So interesting! It is definitely cut differently than I would have imagined.

A little pasta trivia for you-

In 2003 Gino Cucci made the longest strand of spaghetti ever. It was 153 meters long – longer than 3 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Though I’m still not sure my exact question was answered – how does orzo get its specific shape and in such a small size? It’s a mystery that may never be solved…

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