Have you ever thought of doing homemade noodles by making your own craft noodles from scratch but decided not to because you thought it’d be too difficult? Have you thought commercial noodle production would be a professional job that no amateur can take on? Do you think it is difficult for anyone without any experience to start crafting original noodles from scratch?
As noodle making experts who have helped many start making their own commercial noodle production from scratch, we can not only show how anyone, regardless of experiences or skills can start making original fresh noodles from scratch but also how one can make noodles that may be better than what’s currently available in the markets.
In this article, we want to show you easy step-by-step processes that anyone can take to start making delicious noodles that are unique and of high value. So, by reading this article, you can start making great and better noodles even if you have no experience in making noodles.
The following are easy step-by-step processes that you take
- Have a clear vision for the end outcome (finished noodles)
- Create the recipe
- Prepare and weigh ingredients
- Start making noodles by following a checklist
- Store away noodles in a refrigerator
- Clean the machine properly
- Do a routine maintenance
Breaking Down the Points: One by One for Better Understanding
1. Have a clear vision for the end outcome (finished noodles)
Starting something without a clear sense of direction won’t get us anywhere. Without the destination, we may not get anywhere or waste so much time trying to get somewhere. So, knowing what the outcome we want in advance is crucial in making your own craft noodles that will wow your customers. Imagining what your ideal craft noodles would be like, we want to have clear pictures of the following. Noodle texture, soft, hard, chewy, bouncy, crunchy, etc. Noodle size or shape. Thick, thin, square, round, flat, or curled. Is there any flavor or color? Strong wheat flavor? Chili? Red? Black? Spinach? The clearer the vision you have for your craft noodles, the more solids your noodle recipes are going to be. So, let’s imagine the ideal noodles that you want to create in the first step.
2. Create the recipe.
Having imagined your ideal noodles in the first step, we can now start creating your noodle recipes that will reproduce your ideal noodles over and over. To create this recipe, we want to focus on what kind of noodle texture you want to bring out onto your craft noodles first. To accomplish the noodle textures, you want to decide the following variables. Hydration ratio. Ingredients. Noodle size/shape.The higher the hydration, the softer the noodle texture. And by applying certain production methods like resting process for noodles at certain hydration ratios, for example high hydration (e.g. 40%), you can create unique noodle texture that is bouncy and chewy. As for ingredients, what impacts noodle texture the most is the wheat flour. Particularly, protein content, viscosity, and ash content of the flour. You can check this article for more information on ingredients. But because most of what makes noodles come from wheat flour, getting wheat flours that are suitable for your noodle texture is critical in making your ideal noodles. So, you want to search local flour mills and others to find wheat flours that help structure your ideal noodle texture. If you find some flours that you think would be great for your noodles, we can test them for you for free of charge by actually making them into noodles.
3. Prepare and weigh ingredients
We now have your own recipe for ideal noodles. Then, here comes the most important process in noodle production. It is to measure each ingredient with precision based on the recipe. Because no matter how solid your noodle recipe is, if you make mistakes in measuring the right amount for the ingredients, the recipe or the rest of production processes do not matter. So, it is always critical to measure everything by weight. Weight gives your better precision than other units of measurement, such as volume. Please always go by weight.
4. Start making noodles by following a checklist:
After having prepared and measured each ingredient by weight, it is now time to start turning the ingredients into noodles. When making your own noodles from scratch for the first time or 2nd time, it is a good idea to have a checklist handy. Going over a checklist at each process helps you avoid mistakes and make sure necessary steps are taken.
In this article, we are using a ramen noodle machine to make standard ramen noodles from scratch. Noodle production usually starts with mixing process, which turns solid ingredients, which are flours and other dry powders and liquid ingredients that are water, kansui, salt, and others into dough. The most important thing for you to do in this process is to render good hydration of dough. We want to distribute the liquid equally into the solid ingredients. Imagine the entire area of dough containing equal amount of liquid or moisture. That is the ideal condition of dough, which makes great noodle texture. Here is a tip to render good hydration. We do not want to add all the liquid onto the solid ingredients all at once. We want to add the liquid gradually little by little to the solids while the solids are being stirred.
After mixing, we get dough, which may not yet be fully hydrated, meaning there’s some parts of dough that are wetter than the others. You want your dough to be fully hydrated to have ideal noodle texture. We apply this process, called resting process by putting the dough in a plastic bag and seal it and let it sit at a room temperature. (For certain types of noodles, especially high hydration noodles dough, we want to control the temperature and time). This is the 1st resting process among 3 possible phases for ramen noodles.
What we do next is to turn this dough into sheet shape. We do this by feeding the dough into a set of rollers that are set to a certain gap. We want to adjust this roller gap based on hydration ratio. The basic rule is the higher the hydration, the bigger the roller gap. For example, for high hydration noodle dough (e.g. 40%), we may set the roller gap to 2.0mm.
Before we do this, we want to make sure the automatic duster is off because we do not want to dust dough being turned sheet. Dusting on dough at this point prevents dough from forming together. We also want to make sure that the roller speed is set to a slow speed. We want to apply sufficient pressure on dough to form into a solid sheet, so we go slow in this process.
Next process is what we call, combining process, which separates the dough sheet into two. Then we combine them through the rollers. This allows us to work the dough to strengthen and develop gluten inside dough. We want to adjust the roller gap properly. Please check this article to understand how we can properly adjust the roller gap for each round of rolling. We still want to go with a slow speed in this process for the same reason we mentioned before. We usually carry out this combining process once to twice.
And when we know we are done with the combining process, which sticks 2 separate dough sheets into one, we want to turn on the automatic duster. As we want to keep the dough from sticking from this point on, we start the duster and check the volume of dusting. And check the remaining amount of dusting powder in the duster. If it is too little, we want to refill.
Once we are done with the combining process, we just need to thin the dough to the final thickness before cutting. We may want to thin the dough for a few times, depending on the final thickness before cutting it into noodles strands. For proper ways of thinning and cutting on a ramen noodle machine, please check this article for more details.
When we reach the thickness that is small enough for us to start cutting and portioning, we want to measure the actual thickness of dough. Because with this machine, the dough goes through another round thinning before going into the cutter, we want to predict the final roller gap we set to get the final thickness of our noodles.
After thinning the dough at a round before cutting, we want to see the difference between the actual thickness of dough that’s gone through the roller gap and the roller gap. The difference is how much the dough has bounced back. By knowing this “bounce-back-rate”, we can take a guess at the roller gap we need to set to get to the final thickness we want on our ideal noodles.
Before cutting, we want to make sure that the machine is in “cutter mode”. This is done by flipping the switch-level down to “cutter”. And if you want to dust directly onto noodles, you want to move and mount the automatic duster over the conveyor. Prepare enough noodle containers with dry papers or cloth laid on bottoms, caliper, a scale.
When cutting, we want to check the first portion that comes out for the thickness. We want to see if the roller gap, we set is getting us the final thickness we want. If the thickness is off, we want to readjust the roller gap by the difference. And we want to measure the weight of a portion to see if it is right. If the serving is off, we want to adjust the length by turning the volume for noodle length. Retrieve, fold, and place portions of noodles in a container. When full, lay another sheet of cloth or paper over them and put a cover on it. Otherwise, noodles get dried over time.
5. Store away noodles in a refrigerator
Make sure that noodles stay in a cool area for a while before they get stored away in a fridge. If noodles are still warm, they may get condensation, wetting noodles around them.
6. Clean the machine properly
When we are done with the machine operation for the day, we want to start cleaning. The first thing we want to do is to clean the mixer. To do it, we take several sponges and soak them in water and put them in a mixer bowl. Put the lid on and start the mixer and run it for 20 minutes. While the mixer is running, cleaning inside, we want to clean other parts of the machine with vacuum cleaner, wet towels, etc. Take a wet towel to wipe roller scrapers (resin parts found underneath the rollers). Once the mixer stops, we can wipe the mixer bowl inside with the sponges and dry towels. After everything is wiped clean, we can spray alcohol inside and tilt the mixer bowl to let it dry.
7. Do a routine maintenance
It is critical to do a routine maintenance on your machine for a long-term use without breaking. What we do is cleaning and lubricating. There are certain spots where we want to lubricate on the machine periodically. As the machine uses gears and chains, these parts want to be greased once a month or so. It is like changing engine-oil in a car. If you can routinely do this, your machine lasts for years without any breaks.