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Kitchen Chemistry. Cooking pasta

  1. Dec 23, 2012 #1
    My wife insists that pasta is not to be cooked with the lid on the pot. I reason that the cooking temperature must be fairly constant at the boiling point of water, so the energy required to cook the pasta can be reduced by putting a lid on the pot and turning the burner down just enough that the water does not boil over. It is true that many online sources specify that pasta is to be cooked uncovered so I tried to come up with possible explainations.

    I do understand that the lid will slightly raise the pressure at the surface of the water, thus causing a slight increase in the boiling point, but I can't imagine it being a significant increase.

    A recipe that specifies pasta to be cooked uncovered may include a certain amount of extra water, which is intended to boil away. Making this recipe with that amount of water, but in a covered pot, may result in too much water remaining in the pot. I find this hypothesis unlikely due to the fact that pasta is usually drained of excess water after cooking.

    Uncovered pasta is less likely to boil over and make a mess on the stove. I believe this is the most likely reason that most culinary web sites specify pasta to be cooked in an open pot.

    Am I correct? Does anybody else have any insight on why most culinary websites specify pasta to be cooked uncovered? Can it, in fact, have a perceptable influence on the final product?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 23, 2012 #2
    If you cook pasta covered it'll go slimy/starchy.

    So it's your choice, you can save 0.001% of the energy to cook the pasta that tastes terrible. OR, listen to your wife and do it properly.
  4. Dec 23, 2012 #3
    What is physically different about the water that the pasta is cooking in that depends on the presence or absence of the lid?
  5. Dec 23, 2012 #4
    Not got a clue, a covered pot makes crap pasta. An open pot makes crap rice.

    It's magic.
  6. Dec 23, 2012 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    Pasta cooks best when it's in constant vigorous motion. Lots of heat at the bottom of the pot and rapid heat loss at the top means lots of convection through the water to keep things moving. Indeed, if you're ever stuck trying to cook pasta over too small a burner, you can sometimes salvage the situation by vigorously stirring the pasta as it cooks.
  7. Dec 23, 2012 #6
    That sounds plausable. Thanks.
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