The other day I noticed that I was out of macaroni. Now, most of you would think, "Just go to the store and buy some more!" But I don't do that. If I need macaroni, I make my own from wheat berries. Rather than store many different kinds of pasta such as spaghetti, macaroni, ravioli, and others, it is much easier to store wheat berries as part of a food storage program and make your own.
To make macaroni, you need semolina flour. Semolina flour is made from durum wheat berries. So first thing I needed to do was grind some durum wheat berries. To do that, I used my wheat grinder. I have a Wonder Junior Deluxe Hand Grain/Flour Mill. I really like it. It is strong enough for daily use yet isn't as expensive as others out there. I have had other (cheaper) ones in the past, but since I tend to use a grinder frequently, they didn't last.
I do have a few tips for breaking in a new machine, (or new stones/burrs). When you first set up a new machine, the grinding stones and burrs may have a few sharp edges that will make the machine harder to turn. The instructions recommend that the first few cups of flour should be discarded because they may contain some bits of the stone or shavings of the steel burrs. To grind this flour yesterday, I was using new grinding stones. I only needed to grind two cups of berries to make the macaroni. However, to break in the new stones, I had to grind a total of 4 cups. I discarded the first two cups in the trash.
The first few times you use this grinder, you will get a real workout! If you have never ground your own flour before, (and if you don't usually work out), you will notice your arms tiring. After a few times at grinding flour, it will get much easier. Here is a picture of mine.
I really do prefer using the stones (as opposed to the steel burrs) because you get a finer flour. Here is a picture of my semolina flour.
Now, to make the dough, you need to add eggs to the flour. Of course fresh eggs will work, but it wouldn't be cooking with food storage if I did that. I used egg powder. The recipe required three eggs. The equivalent of three eggs is six tablespoons of egg powder.
Egg powder has a tendency to lump up so I mixed the flour and egg powder well, breaking up any egg powder lumps as necessary. To this I added nine tablespoons of water.That is the amount of moisture equivalent in three eggs. I didn't add them all at once because you really only want the dough to be moist enough to stay together. If it is too moist, it won't go through the extractor easily to make the macaroni. However, this time I had the opposite problem. Once I added the water, I couldn't get the dough to come together. Instead of adding more water, I turned it out onto a piece of freezer paper and tried kneading it together.
I really was hesitant to add more water because it is very easy to add too much water to this dough. Caution is the word here. Once I kneaded it a bit, it came together nicely. I then rolled it into a log to make it easier to cut. I let it rest for a few minutes while I set up the macaroni machine.
The macaroni machine I have is an Atlas Manual Pasta Extruder Regina. It is super easy to use and easy to clean as well. Here is a picture of mine.
I used the small macaroni cutter (the manufacturer calls them dies). The machine comes with five different cutters so you can make five different types of pasta. To start, cut the dough into pieces that will fit into the funnel.
Then put a piece in the machine and start cranking.
After a few turns of the handle, the dough will peek out the front of the machine.
At this point, stop cranking and cut off the macaroni at the length you desire. From this point on, the instructions recommend one complete turn of the handle for most of the pasta. I like two turns.
Once you have cut the pasta off the machine, crank again and cut again. I should mention here that dough doesn't normally fit well into any extractor machine. It will be necessary from time to time to push it a bit so the dough will flow smoothly.
In a few short minutes you have macaroni!
The instructions with the machine recommend that the noodles dry for at least one hour. I like to dry them longer, at a minimum of two hours. They are easier to work with when they are dry. I do check on them every so often to separate them and break up any clumps that stick together. In the picture above, you can see in the upper left corner some of the pieces sticking together. If I am not going to cook them the day I make them, I will dry overnight and then vacuum seal in a canning jar for longer storage.
Last night, I used two cups worth in a food storage recipe I cook often, beef stroganoff You can see how I make that recipe here. The rest was dried overnight and stored for later use.
The entire process was super easy! AND the best part is it didn't take any electricity!