0 A Watched Pot Never Boils: Pasta Food Myth

pasta, boiling water
Photo credit: hanataro/Flickr
The Food Lab at Serious Eats has debunked 6 common and egregious food myths -- but one in particular greatly piqued my interest. The myth that most concerns my cooking repertoire involves a popular food item known as pasta. Perhaps you've also cooked pasta once or twice (or every day of my life) and could benefit from the following tidbit...
Pasta Must Be Cooked in Massive Amounts of Boiling Water
Well, this one is actually true, but only if you are dealing with really fresh (as in you rolled it yourself) pasta. With dried pasta, as long as the pasta is completely covered in water, it'll cook just fine. People cite the fact that a large pot of water will lose less heat than a small pot of water when you add pasta to it, but this is in fact not true. There is a difference between heat (energy) and temperature (a value based on how much energy a given amount of a given substance holds).

So, it's indeed true that a large pot of water will show a smaller decrease in temperature than a small pot of water, but the amount of energy needed to bring that water back up to a boil when you add the pasta to it is exactly the same, no matter how much water you have. In fact, because a small pot loses less energy to the outside environment because of its smaller surface area, it will actually return to a boil faster than a large pot of water will.

Moreover, you don't even need to keep the water all that hot. Cover your pasta with boiling water, bring it back to a boil, put a lid on it, and remove it from the heat. It'll cook just as fast and evenly as a pot that's kept at a rolling boil for the entire duration of cooking, plus it'll shave a few pennies off your gas bill!
Got that?! Read all 6 food myths here.

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