Friday, February 26, 2010

Cooking Pasta

My friend at Adventures in Carpooling had a post about when to add salt to boiling water.  When I was a kid, I was taught to add salt from my Sicilian Grandma, I think it was to keep the pasta from sticking together. After I was married, someone told me that salt toughens the pasta - so I should use oil instead. Then just a couple of years ago, I was told salt makes the water boil faster.  I didn't know what to believe!

Being the nerd that I am, I Googled it.  (Isn't it fun using nouns as verbs?)  So here's what I found out from a science forum.  Salt water raises the water's boiling point.  One site said cooks don't add enough to significantly change the temperature that water begins to boil, I figure every little bit helps - I'm going to add it after it starts boiling.  A cool site listed the results of a science experiment that showed that 2 Tablespoons of salt in 2 cups of water raised the boiling point about 6 degrees.

Now as far as cooking pasta goes, I found a forum where most agreed that adding salt improved the taste and texture of the pasta and that oil interfered with the sauce soaking into the pasta.  They are talking adding a significant amount of salt to you water - "salty like seawater" was mention many times.  I'd be careful of that advise if you are watching your salt intake. I think I'll go back to Grandma's way and try adding salt to the water the next time I have spaghetti.

My favorite part of this research, it's yet another example of using science in real life!

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