Sunday, April 3, 2016

Homestead How-to: Homemade Pasta

There are plenty of recipes out there for making your own pasta. This is just how we do it. Here is our original post here about the noodles, with current pictures added in.

Here's our new recipe:
3 cups flour (I have used bread flour, Prairie Gold, and a combination of the two)
6 eggs (I just use the whole egg, some prefer only the yolk)
6 Tbs water
A pinch of salt

Our big batch noodles is:
30 cups flour
5 dozen (60) eggs
3 3/4 cups water

We start by dumping the flour and the salt into a large bowl. Making a 'well' in the middle of the flour, we start adding the eggs in. Once the eggs are in, we start stirring in the flour, pulling more into the eggs until we have it all worked in.

One of the keys to pasta dough is don't be afraid of the flour! A common mistake is to not add enough flour, resulting a very sticky, hard to handle, dough. I'm sure there is a point where you can add too much flour, but I haven't found it yet. I am very free with the flour. Probably comes from being a naturally messy baker :-)

Once you have your dough mixed into a nice ball, we let it rest for a bit. Not really sure why...just was always told to. You know how that goes.  After several minutes of resting, I divide the dough into manageable sized portions so it's easier to roll out without the dough drying too much. As you roll out each portion, keep a lightly dampened towel, or saran wrap, over the remaining dough portions. You don't want them to form a 'crust' while you tend to each batch in turn.

We generally roll ours using my hand-crank roller, but you can easily roll them by hand on a floured board (again, abandone your fear of too much flour! Flour your rolling pin or dough surface well and repeatedly) then cut using a sharp pointed knife. A typical pasta machine will only produce a flat sheet of pasta dough you can then use in various ways. My machine, an Atlas, has an attachment for cutting narrow spaghetti like pasta, as well as a slightly wider, fettucini style pasta. I can also simply roll the dough to the desired thickness and hand-cut using a knife or pizza cutter, or use the pasta wheel that has adjustable width cutters that create a fluted edge. Any width can be cut by hand, from a lasagna noodle to a spaghetti noodle, but I admit the spaghetti noodle is difficult and tedious to cut by hand. I can also roll the dough, then cut into large 'boxes'...a tablespoon of cheese or cooked sausage and the like, topped with another' box' and crimp to seal. Voila! Homemade ravioli! Delicious!

Homemade noodles will cook up about twice their thickness, so unless you are wanting a flat dumpling (which are excellent additions to soups and stews), roll out as thin as you can before cutting (1/16 inch). The hand-roller can be set to any setting to get your chosen thickness. I like to run each portion through twice per setting. For a more egg noodle like result, we roll at each setting up to 3 or 4. For a more delicate pasta, such as spaghetti, I will roll out to a setting of 5. the higher the setting, the thinner the resulting noodle will be. You can 'skip' settings once you have gotten to say a 4, but up to that thickness, you'll want to do it number-by-number to avoid forcing too much dough thru the crank. And keep that dough floured. It is a total pain to clean stuck dough from the rollers while in the middle of working a batch of noodles. Don't ask how I know this, just go with my, ahem, experience.

For a 'shaped' pasta, such as elbow macaroni, you will want a pasta extruder. The extruder works on the same principle as a meat put a portion of dough into the hopper, turn a crack and force the pasta dough thru a die into various shapes depending on the die used. I don't have an extruder, but would like one. We get by with just the 'flat' pasta here, and I stock the pantry with plain elbow macaroni, but it would be nice to mix up the shapes for fun once in a while. And some dishes just deserve a shaped pasta to hold in all that great homemade sauce, kwim?

I take my cut noodles and hang them for a while on my rack. Yes, that is a regular, plastic-coated wooden clothes drying rack. You can easily wrap the bars in plastic wrap to use an existing rack. I don't dry clothes on this one, it's my pasta-only rack.

As the noodles dry, which varies given the air/weather conditions, they will become stiff then brittle. they tend to break off the rack rather easily by this point so we pull the noodles off and I lay them out on butcher paper to finish drying. To speed this along, I usually lay them somewhere with some heat/warmth. This recent batch, I laid the butcher paper on some cookie sheets and put them on the top of the warming oven of my cookstove. They were totally dry, meaning brittle like your regular store-bought pasta, in a few hours thanks to the gentle heat from the warming oven and stove pipe.

You can use your homemade pasta as soon as it has dried slightly and is easily handled. To cook your pasta, bring your water to a full, rolling boil first then add your pasta. Anything less than a hard boil and you may end up with a pasta that tastes over-cooked and squishy. The hard rolling boil really helps fresh pasta.

To store your dried pasta, pack it in whatever container works best for you. Something air-tight is best, to prevent the pasta from picking up moisture from the air. If the pasta hasn't fully dried to the 'brittle' stage, you can store it in the freezer. We usually pack ours into a 5 gallon bucket. Homemade pasta will keep *if totally dry* for about 6 months...we never manage to keep them that long :o)  I have to make a few batches a year, and I try to do it during the winter if I am wanting to store it.

As easy as homemade pasta is to make though, you can easily whip up a batch in the morning for a fresh pasta dish that evening!


Backwoods Woman said...

Hey lady, Denita here. I don't have one of those pasta maker/cutter things but I'm thinking this would be just as doable without one. I need to try this. Soon.

Sharmayne said...

Thanks Deanna for putting this on your blog and for all the wonderful photos that go with it - truelly helps get an idea of just how to do it! Will be giving this a go before too long :)

Dana said...

Awesome!! Thank you sooo much for this post!!

Kim Mills said...

Oh, yum! Thanks for sharing your recipe.


Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls.

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