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Pasta water

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default Pasta water

Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 24th February 2010, 12:21 pm

Okay rules #1 and #2 of cooking dried pasta are, as you all doubtless know already:
1.) Cook it in a big pan with a lot of water - I use about 3 or 4 litres of water for enough pasta for four - the pasta needs to have room to move about in the water so cramming it in a small pan with a pint of water is never going to work.
2.) Take the pasta out with tongs or a slatted spoon and add to the sauce, don't pour it through a sieve. You want to have a certain amount of the cooking water still adhering to the pasta, and you may want to add a spoonful or so to the mix (it will make the sauce cling to the pasta much better). No need for that sieve at all.

Okay, so far so basic, sorry for teaching you to suck eggs.

But what about that big pan of pasta water when you have finished your meal and come to do the washing up? Pour it down the drain, right?
Wrong. The frugal cook pours nothing away. That water is yummy. It has all the starches that have dissolved away from the pasta in it. In Italian restaurants batch after batch of pasta is cooked in the pasta kettle in the same water, and the first few batches of the day in clean fresh water are considered the least interesting. After a few dozen kilos have gone through it it starts imparting proper flavour to the pasta that goes in it rather than just leaching it away.

If you are cooking pasta 2 days running I would just keep the water in the fridge and re-use it. You could, if you have freezer space, freeze it and bring it out again and thaw it.
For me it makes the perfect base to make a stock in - we had chicken and spaghetti yesterday and now the carcass is simmering with mirepoix in the pasta water - it gives the stock real body. Alternatively I reduce it down and use it as a thickener for soups or as the liquid component in a gravy - beats all hell out of using cornflour, which I find can impart a floury taste if the flavours are delicate.

If you are not making any of the above and have no facility to store it, wait until it is thoroughly cooled and hand it over to your alter ego the frugal gardener and pour it on your plants - the soil is a much better place for all those lovely nutrients to end up than the drain.

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Post by Compostwoman on 24th February 2010, 3:49 pm

That's a really good idea!

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Post by polgara on 24th February 2010, 5:39 pm

Would not have thought of doing that .
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Post by MrsC on 25th February 2010, 8:11 am

Like the idea Billy as pasta water is one thing that I create a lot of but normally pour down the sink. Embarassed Only problem we have is somewhere to store it. Our fridge is very very small at the moment - we got it free with the last flat and as it still works kept it, but it's tiny!

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Post by Nick B on 26th February 2010, 9:35 am

That's a very good Idea Billy
I going to try that,


Last edited by Nick B on 26th February 2010, 9:36 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : did not read right)
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Post by GB on 15th March 2015, 3:26 pm

That is a great idea!

Good thing I am looking back through the recipes for one I have lost, I never would have thought of that! Very Happy

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Post by Dandelion on 16th March 2015, 5:11 pm

Tried it on Saturday night, making a macaroni and broccoli cheese. I used half a pint of milk and a quarter of a pint of cooking water for the cheese sauce, to reduce the fat content. It was lovely (if I say so myself...)

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