culinary review

How Much Salt To Put in Pasta Water

Last Modified: 10/17/13
First Published: 07/24/10
Views: 4570
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Views: 4570
That you need to salt the water you cook pasta in is widely agreed upon. In fact, if you don't add salt to the saltwater, the pasta will taste much flatter, without character. Since you cook pasta in quite a lot of water, you actually need a substantial amount of salt, to make a difference at all. Remember, the pasta won't actually taste salty, it will instead be more nuanced and flavorful.

When we cook pasta, we usually add a substantial amount of salt, somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 tablespoons for 8 quarts of water. One good tip is to add the salt to the water, let it dissolve and then taste the water. It's supposed to taste slightly salty, a bit like seawater.

To add salt to pasta water is important. Not only will it make for a more flavorful pasta, the salt also minimize stickiness by hindering the separation of starch molecules. And if there is one thing that is really frustrating, it's sticky pasta. That's also a reason why you want to use an adequate amount of water for your pasta; if there isn't enough water, the water will become very starchy.

Another good tip, is to save a cup of the pasta water as you drain the pasta. This water will be slightly starchy, and a touch salty and is perfect to extend the sauce with. This is especially true if you're serving a 'dryer sauce' like browned butter and nuts, or pesto.

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