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When making pasta, I often use small amounts of pasta water as an addition to sautes or to lengthen sauces. I have thought of saving more of the pasta water to refrigerate and use within 2 or 3 days, for say, a soup base or maybe as a light broth for cooking rice or bulgar wheat.

I'm wondering if anyone here does this, and if so, are the results worth the effort? I usually have a stock or other broth on hand but not always; so it occurred to me that leftover pasta water might have a second life.

Thanks.

A little more info - I got the idea from my well used copy of Lynne Rosetto Kasper's "The Italian Country Table" where in several recipes a small amount of pasta water is reserved for deglazing or cooking down within a vegetable dish. So, that's been my usage.

Consensus seems to be that it's not worth the effort to save for later.

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But it some regions of Italy, there'd be pasta with almost every meal (so much so that my grandfather refused to eat pasta later in life ... except lasagna for special occassions), so it'd be something always on hand to add to a dish being cooked at the same time. –  Joe Aug 30 '10 at 23:10
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4 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The major advantage of using pasta water is that it is high in starch rather than for any flavoring you may get from the water. You may find that you get some strange results if you're just subbing it directly for water or stock, and I wouldn't recommend keeping it for that reason.

Personally, it doesn't seem like it's worth the effort of keeping. If I want a thickening agent for a sauce or gravy, I'll just make a cornstarch slurry. However, you've just got a starchy water, so I'd think it'll keep for as long as tap water would (certainly 2-3 days if cooled properly).

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Tap water properly stored should last for years. (and it's a good thing to have on hand in case of a zombie apocalypse ... or the water goes out, or one of those annoying 'boil water' alerts when another pipe breaks.) –  Joe Aug 30 '10 at 23:11
    
@Joe, I guess it depends on how you are keeping it. My 2-3 days is based on the glass of tap water by my bed. It tastes fine for a couple of days, but after that it takes on a nasty metallic taste. It may just be my local water or it may be the exposure to air. I just thought I'd play my answer safe. –  yossarian Aug 31 '10 at 14:55
    
2L sitting tap water = 2L distilled water (and is terrific for house plants!) –  mfg Oct 12 '10 at 19:28
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I don't know. I'm not Mr. OMG-Bacteria's-Gonna-Kill-YOU but I'd not want to keep a thing of starchy water (which is an ideal bacterial growth medium) in my fridge for more than a day or two. Add to that the fact that it's basically so cheap as to be free, and it's right at the bottom of the list of things I'd save.

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There certainly shouldn't be any food safety issues with doing that, as long as you cool it down to under 40 F. within a couple of hours. As to whether it is worth it, that is pretty subjective but if you make a lot of sauces that could use slight dilution while retaining sheen and texture, I think it is a sensible idea.

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It's basically a pretty good way to culture bacteria. Don't bother. You're much better off just making the sauce that day, and storing it.

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