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Every time I cook spaghetti in a regular pot, I get the feeling that I could save litres of water if the pot had been created with spaghetti cooking in mind. This is especially true when I only need 1-2 portions. Cooking smaller pasta is more efficient.

Diagram of the Nordenfur pasta pot

Is there a culinary reason for using so much water? Do professional kitchens use a better method?

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This might be of interest: nytimes.com/2009/02/25/dining/25curi.html –  johnny May 11 '11 at 12:00
    
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The starch in pasta gets activated with heat, so if you are boiling the pasta you need at least enough room for the pasta to move around so the activated starches don't cause the strands to stick to each other. On the other hand, if the pasta is pre-soaked in cold water, then it only needs to be boiled in a small amount of water for ~1 minute. –  ESultanik May 11 '11 at 13:03

6 Answers 6

up vote 22 down vote accepted

A tall thin pot is a hazard as it can be tipped over all too easily

The book says use lots of water to ensure even cooking and to stop the pasta sticking. But regular stirring will solve this problem too

Just use less water in a regular pot and feed the pasta into the boiling water. It takes about 30 seconds for long spaghetti to soften enough for it to fit into a regular pot. It cooks just fine WITHOUT breaking it up if you give it a quick stir after a minute, and then every couple of minutes or so

If you know your stove temperature and spaghetti type, it will only take a couple of goes to work out the least amount of water you can use. I use about 1 l of boiling water for three adult servings of spaghetti in a medium domestic pot. With the lid half on it is cooked to a firm bite point in less than 8 minutes, and the water just covers the spaghetti when finished

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I don't feel the need to use large pot. A few seconds of stirring and everything fits in nicely. –  Michael Mior May 12 '11 at 15:32

The more water the better circulation which lessens the chance of the pasta getting tangled and unevenly cooked.

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The more amount of water in a pot the more consistant the water temperature will be. A very small amount of water would cool down once the pasta was added which would take longer to boil, and cook the pasta at a lower temperature causing the center of the pasta to cook more which would likely keep the pasta from becoming al dente. You could make fresh pasta if you'd like to have perfectly cooked pasta with less water consumption.

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Your suggested design would topple over very easily, especially on a gas hob with a grate, risking serious injury.

Aside from safety concerns, your design would also be inefficient as there is an extremely low surface area in contact with the hob. It would therefore take longer to heat up. Since the pasta is bunched together, there is a lower surface area of pasta in contact with the water, further slowing the cooking process. Your design would also cause some serious sticking- you'd likely end up with a stuck-together tube of spaghetti with this.

A smaller, normal-shaped pan can be used while avoiding sticking if you can be bothered to stir it more often, but a large pan with plenty of water would be the ideal solution.

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As to your non-culinary criticism, both problems could be solved using a water-filled foot. –  user4697 May 11 '11 at 20:21

If you use too little water when cooking your pasta (on the stove), the starch to water ratio will be too high. This means your pasta won't "cook" or absorb the proper amount of water. I purchased the "Fasta Pasta" as seen on tv "device". It goes along with your question of a tall, thin pasta pot, but is made for cooking pasta in the microwave. It uses a LOT LESS water than cooking on the stove. I don't know why. I seriously dislike "as seen on TV" gizmos, but this one was worth it.

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You need a lot of water to dilute the starch in the pasta. Less water = more sticking.

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-1 You just need to stir to make sure it doesn't stick. The amount of water is essentially irrelevant. See: cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/3949/… –  yossarian May 11 '11 at 18:07
    
Interesting.... –  ElendilTheTall May 11 '11 at 19:56

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