Today was the day I chose to make my Swedish Meatballs but discovered I was out of noodles. So, today was also noodle-making day.
Homemade egg noodles are so much better tasting (and better for you) than store-bought noodles. Who knows what is put into the noodles in the factories? I KNOW what is in my noodles: nothing but fresh stuff!
The noodle dough is very simple. My favorite one is about one cup of flour to one egg, a plop of olive oil, a pinch of salt and water to make the dough stiff but not sticky. I use farm-fresh eggs, which gives the noodles a lovely yellow color. (Store-bought eggs are fine, too.) I also use organic unbleached white flour from the local co-op. Many people use whole wheat, but I chose white as the flour of my choice. Sea salt and filtered water; good virgin olive oil — all the stuff fit for kings and peasants alike. Start with as much flour as you like, and then add the rest of the ingredients to match.
This time I decided to try my bread machine for mixing the dough rather than doing it by hand. It was easier, and I was able to walk away and do other things while the dough was mixing. I set the machine for the dough setting and turned it off when the machine started to heat for the ‘rising.’ The machine makes the dough much smoother than I can by hand.
I then pinched off a small handful of dough and rolled it through my noodle maker. This machine is worth every penny I spent on it, twenty-five years ago! I have settings from one to six. I start with a dusting of flour on the dough and run it through the first setting, fold it and run it through a second time. Then I run it through each setting until I get to setting five. I could go thinner but I prefer the fifth setting for most of my noodles.
Next I hang the sheets of dough on my trusty clothes dryer to dry for about thirty minutes. The resting and partial drying helps the dough roll through the striper part of the noodle maker much easier.
If you do not have a clothes dryer, you can lay the noodles on the table on a clean dishtowel to dry. They take a little bit longer this way; you might want to turn them over half way through so that both sides are dry.
As I roll the dough through the striper, I catch the noodles and hang them back on the clothes dryer. Then they hang overnight if I am going to store them or at least another hour before cooking that day. The noodles don’t get mushy if you let them dry partially before cooking.
I usually lay some (clean) newspapers on the floor under the drying rack to catch any noodles that may drop. If you have children or hyperactive dogs or cats, you will have some noodles on the floor. I have neither, so felt safe not to put the paper down — I am not afraid of someone bumping the rack! Then I got to thinking: the only thing I had to fear (besides fear itself) is me! Sure as shootin’, I’d be the one to knock the rack and cause noodles to drop. Plus, once they GET dry, they start falling off by themselves! So, down went the newspaper.
To store homemade noodles, some people dry and freeze them. I put whatever ones are left (I usually use most of them in a day or two) in a gallon jar to store until I need them. They are OH-so-yummy and OH-so-much-better-for-you than the store bought ones.
Editor’s note: This post first published in January 2008.