I’ve owned the Norpro pasta maker for about three years and I use it quite a bit. Last week I got a good deal on eggs so I had 48 to do something with and after making four quarts of pickled eggs I had eight left. Time to get out the Norpro and the pasta rack and make some noodles.
Pasta is really easy to make but difficult to make right. My Mom used to always make homemade noodles in a chicken soup when family came to visit and as a kid I watched her roll out the dough and cut and dry the noodles on a cutting cloth. That was the only pasta she ever made and over the many years her recipe got simpler and simpler. In her last year when I volunteered to stay with her for a week while my sister took a break from parent care I was the one who made the noodles and soup for everyone and it was pretty hard work. I used a water glass to roll the dough out because there was no rolling pin in the house and I did have to politely argue about the recipe because by this time it had simplified to the point that it was noodles, salt and a boiled chicken. Please, Mom, I said, Can I use an onion? and she grudgingly agreed. I also sneaked in some spices and I made several nice sides. It turned out well and the noodles were just like Mom made, thick and meaty like country style noodles in China made from fresh pasta.
One reason I make pasta now is for storage, so I need thin noodles instead of the meaty fresh type. Thick noodles don’t store very well because you can’t get them totally dry. The Norpro will make flat, wide noodles for lasagna or ravioli; quarter inch wide ribbon noodles, and in theory a ramen sized noodle a little like angelhair spaghetti. Although I do like the Norpro pasta maker and the problem may be me and not the machine, I have not yet been able to get the smaller noodles to separate as they cut. Probably there is a way and I will keep experimenting. A dusting of flour before cutting might do it and I haven’t tried that.
The Norpro gives you many thickness options and although I like the ribbon noodles when rolled to a setting of “5” on the machine (much like my Mom’s hand-rolled fresh noodles) they don’t really dry very well when that thick. Rolling to a 7 setting gives you noodles that are more fragile but dry quickly and store well.
One thing that you need if you dry your own pasta is a pasta drying rack. I made one from a section of maple limb and some scrap lumber and I use bamboo skewers to hold the noodles. Although it looks simple, it’s probably a difficult project for most people. I made a living for some years by working with green wood in the old style, so I know things : ). I can make a helluva lot of pasta on this rack, and when I’m done the skewers go back in the kitchen drawer.