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A few weeks ago, I had a very strange experience making udon noodles. Almost instantly after adding the dried noodles to boiling water, and giving a slight stir, they began to break apart. After a few minutes, there was not a single piece longer than one inch. They didn't taste much like udon either, as they were not in the least bit plump or firm.

This was a different brand than I've used before, and they were labeled "organic". We assumed they were just bad noodles (they tasted somewhat of soggy cardboard), and threw them out.

Last night, I was trying to make udon once again, from a different pack (of a different brand). The same thing happened: noodles broke up, and tasted bland and mushy. The only thing this brand had in common with the previous pack is that they are both labeled "organic", and they were both in a cabinet for several months. One brand was American, but the other label was mostly in Korean. Also, I think my wife bought both of these packages, whereas I've always bought them before.

So, my multipart question is:

  1. Has anyone had this happen with any kind of noodle before? Any explanation?
  2. Is there some difference in "organic" udon that makes it do this? Some additive that is omitted? I don't have another package in front of me right now to compare, but my two failed packages only contain wheat flour and salt. How could that be wrong?
  3. Could the age of the noodles caused this? I've never seen old spaghetti noodles fall apart like this...
  4. Should my wife be banned from buying udon noodles?
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2  
+1 for banning the wife from buying udon. its the only logical explanation. –  Sam Holder Nov 29 '10 at 19:38
1  
Just speculating, but it could be the combination of "organic" and age. "Organic" could mean less preservatives etc and thus higher rate of change when storing. Also, not all noodles (Udon and others) are suitable for long term storage. Some of the noodles available here only have use-by times of about a week (while others last months). Did you check the use-by date? –  user2215 Dec 1 '10 at 3:31
    
I'll go buy new noodles soon. It should be easy to determine if age is the problem. –  Bob Dec 1 '10 at 19:14
    
I just bought another pack of the same brand, and they cooked up fine. I'll do a few more test runs to see if there was something else that I did wrong, but it looks like the brand alone isn't the problem. –  Bob Feb 18 '11 at 17:42
    
In my experience, if they are available, both frozen and vacuum-sealed fresh ramen noodles are superior to dried ramen noodles. –  ESultanik Sep 15 '11 at 14:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Organic merely tells you that the wheat that was grown, was grown in a more environmentally friendly way, ie. without the aid of pesticides. That on its own will have no effect on noodle stability.

They may be poor quality noodles, have gluten level issues, are they also wholewheat, do your regular udon have some form of strengthening additive like with ramen? Many noodles have kansui added, or whatever passes for that chemically (sodium carbonate) added to strengthen the dough. Of course it may not have been kneaded enough, too old, too dry.

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It's currently looking like the answer is too old/dry, as a fresh package is cooking up fine. –  Bob Feb 21 '11 at 19:08
    
@Bob: Aye, pasta behaves very oddly when stale, loses the elasticity. I assume some degradation in the gluten over time. –  Orbling Feb 21 '11 at 20:11
  • Add the dried udon to a lot of salted boiling water ( even for small quantities of udon you need a lot of water )
    • When it comes to a boil add a cup of cold water
    • Do this again everytime it comes to a boil . Repeat this till the udon is cooked. This help the dried udon absorb more water without getting overcooked and then disintegrating.

You can then serve the udon cold or hot. Enjoy your noms

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If the first brand was Eden, I can confirm that those are awful udon. Nothing like the real thing. I can't remember them actually disintegrating, but I kind of wish they had so I hadn't bothered to eat them.

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The first brand was Roland (amazon.com/Roland-Noodles-Organic-12-8-Ounce-Package/dp/… - one review also complains about the disintegration), but thanks for the warning about Eden. I've never had an experience like that with western style noodles. I had no idea that some brands could be so far off the mark. –  Bob Nov 29 '10 at 18:42

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