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Apparently if you cook both pasta or rice in salty water both will absorb salt. It seems to me the salt changes the taste of the pasta more than it changes the taste of rice though I could be wrong, so I would imagine pasta absorbs more salt.

Which of the two would absorb more salt and how much more salt would be absorbed? I'm looking to make more saltier pasta or rice by way of absorpton rather than sprinkling salt at the end.

  • Technically, pasta is not a grain, though it is, of course, made from one. Would a better comparison be wheat berries vs. rice...or rice noodles vs wheat pasta? Maybe your question would be better asked and answered by eliminating the comparison and simply asking for ways to make saltier grains. – moscafj Oct 4 '18 at 10:43
  • @moscafj i've removed the reference to grain as it was rice vs pasta that I wanted to know about. – James Wilson Oct 4 '18 at 12:27
  • Not an answer, but a suggestion to try with pasta, try putting it in cool salty water after cooking to al dente. As the pasta cools, I think it may take up more water and salt. Then drain and reheat with your sauce or how you wish to serve and you may get saltier you are looking for. I believe this will work, but you would need to try it. – dlb Oct 4 '18 at 13:05
  • @dlb if it did take up more water it would end up being very soggy pasta, which it does to some extent. You will get some salt in by osmosis – Chris H Oct 4 '18 at 13:06
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If we assume that neither has any significant salt to start with and you cook them in equally salty water then to a good approximation they will absorb salt in proportion to the water they absorb.

White rice apparently absorbs twice its weight in water, while for pasta the figure is more like 1.1-1.4 times. That would suggest that rice absorbs more salt than pasta does. The effect on the flavour may not be quite the same as the effect on the concentration.

If you're trying to get add much salt in as possible, you need to start with as much as possible dissolved in your water.

  • This is not correct. Say I have some salty dried meat (higher concentration than the salt water). If I put it in the salt water is would absorb water and not salt. – paparazzo Oct 4 '18 at 11:56
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    @paparazzo I said If we assume that neither has any significant salt to start with. Your meat doesn't meet that assumption so the rest of my answer isn't applicable to it. – Chris H Oct 4 '18 at 13:00
  • I think, but cannot completely back this up, that the amount of water used has to be considered as a factor. With rice, it typically will absorb more of the water, and what is not absorbed will be evaporated leaving the un-absorbed salt behind, much of it on the rice, With most pasta though, you typically use much more water than the pasta will take up, thus a higher portion of the salt is potentially left in the water. I would fully back that if taste is the factor rather than actual amount of salt infused, pasta seems to taste salty easier than rice. – dlb Oct 4 '18 at 13:01
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    @dlb I could always adapt to add the assumption of an excess of water (which is what the packets of long-grain rice round here say to do). But equally salty water should be taken as the same amount of salt per unit volume of water (equally salty in taste), so more water means more salt down the drain. I ignored evaporation, partly because I always cook both with the lid on so it's a small effect – Chris H Oct 4 '18 at 13:05
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    OK I believe you are pretty much correct. I was reading it wrong. – paparazzo Oct 5 '18 at 21:23
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I am with another answer the rice should absorb more.

If you want more salt adsorbed then add more salt. Why do you need to know which absorbs more to add more salt?

If you don't drain the rice then all the salt is in the rice. Unless you add so much there is salt in the bottom. But I suspect rice will take as much salt as your taste buds can handle.

Salt is not very soluble in an organic. In the noodles the concentration in the noodle should be less than the concentration in water. Most of salt is actually in the water that was absorbed. Most of the salt is going to remain in the boiling water. If you really want to know then drain the spaghetti, boil water down, and weigh the salt.

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When I cook rice, I put a little salt in the pot, and all of that salt goes into the rice. But with pasta, I put a whole bunch of salt in the pot, and as far as I can tell, it doesn't affect the taste of the resulting cooked noodles much at all. Because I drain most of it off along with the excess water after the noodles are done.

The statement in your question (that salt changes the taste of the pasta more than that of the rice) sounds backwards to me. Unless it was just an error of wording, it sounds like you are (perhaps?) boiling your rice in a whole big pot of water, and draining it at the end. I know some people do make rice that way. If that is your practice, you might try another rice cooking technique in which the rice is cooked in only a small amount of water - and no draining....or use a rice cooker. If you use a method like that, plus a little experimentation (physical chemistry not needed), I'm pretty sure you could get your rice as salty as you like by adding reasonable amounts of salt, and all of it would stay with the rice.

Now for pasta, yes, you do need to drain the water at the end. Maybe someone else can provide technique for more salt absorption while cooking pasta. However, I'm not sure I get the difference between cooking-in the salt and just sprinkling it on at the end. Because the noodles are wet and contain lots of water (when done, even if al dente), won't the salt that you sprinkle on also be absorbed into the pasta??

  • Taste is just that a matter of taste. Agree that rice should really absorb more salt while cooking, but as with the OP I do not taste it as much. That is a matter of perception though and does not always reflect the reality of how much salt is actually present or what others might taste. As for sprinkling on, the OP specifically excluded that as not a answer for them. It may work for many, but not them. I would submit that it definitely is not the same. Any absorbed would not be as evenly distributed as by water as a cooking medium. For me at least it would actually be easier to taste though. – dlb Oct 5 '18 at 13:54

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