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Thread: HELP!! Sticky pasta

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2001

    HELP!! Sticky pasta

    This seems like such a basic question, but how do you keep your pasta from being sticky. Angel hair last night was so sticky!! Maybe I overcooked, but I put salt in water right at boiling point, and cooked according to package (2-3 min). I didn't use oil, but maybe I should. I don't want to add fat though. Does it add a significant amount?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    South Carolina
    Using too little water can contribute to "stickiness." Also, certain types of water (hard, soft?) can result in weird pasta. I once lived in a coastal community where the water just would not cook pasta properly, so I had to use bottled water.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Renton, WA
    There's mixed opinions on this, but I have always rinsed my pasta in warm water in the colander after cooking, to rinse all the starch off the pasta. Cold water works better, but then the pasta gets cold! I've never had a problem since I started rinsing!
    ~ "The right shoe can change your life...."- Cinderella ~

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    The great northeast.
    You can also try floating about 1 tsp olive (or other vegetable) oil on the water before you put the pasta in. That seems to help, too. Also, stir for about 20 seconds after you toss the pasta in the boiling water.
    Nothing in the history of mankind can foul things up quicker than a computer
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  5. #5

    some options

    overcooking is a definite possibility, and angel hair is particularly vulnerable to this. usually, i test the pasta a minute or so prior to its "prescribed" cooking time (just bite it to see how tender it is).

    a couple of tricks might unstick your pasta, although i do not consider either ideal:

    1. toss with a tiny bit of oil that is complementary to your dish (olive, peanut, etc.). downside: extra fat.


    2. rinse immediately with cold water for about 30-60 seconds after cooking. downside: cold pasta (although sometimes this is ok for the dish involved).

    i used to test pasta doneness by throwing it against the wall. if it stuck, it was done. not all that sanitary. not all that great a guage either, as this method favors overcooked pasta!

    good luck! and i can't wait to read what tricks others have up their proverbial sleeves!

    p.s. sorry this seems redundant. we're all raising our hands simultaneously

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Phoenix, AZ
    I usually add about a teaspoon of oil to the water after I throw the pasta in, and I don't have much trouble with sticky pasta, but I never cook angel hair. And I rinse in warm water afterwards.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    The problem with rinsing pasta is that if you are using any sauce on it, it will not adhere. I think you did not use enough water. And you must stir it for a bit after dumping it into the water. Sometimes it is just the brand of pasta too. Some may have more gluten than others and thus be sticky.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Some general rules of thumb for cooking pasta is 7 quarts of water for 1 pound of pasta, do not add salt until the water is boiling(sort of the same rule when cooking legumes-it tends to toughen the pasta), make sure the water is at a full boil and maintain that boil throughout the cooking time (adding too much pasta can knock down the water temp very quickly), if you do add oil (usually only used in fresh pasta), add it when the water is boiling, about 1 tbs olive oil.

    The term al dente means "to the tooth" so testing before the recommended cooking time is very helpful. Start testing after about 3 minutes by biting a piece,fresh angel hair can be done in as little as 30 seconds!

    I always have a bowl that is warming on the back of the stove (usually the oven is on) with some melted butter in it and the pasta goes there from the pot, I don't rinse.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Lone Star State
    Sneezles pretty much covered what I was going to say, but I have always heard at least 4 quarts of water per pound of pasta rather than 7. Lots of water, full boil and don't overcook.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
    I always had the same problem - until I started rinsing the pasta in cool water in the colinder. I saw it on a show on the Food Network. Now - it works like a charm - although I still add a little bit of olive oil.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    St. Paul, Minnesota
    I don't add oil or rinse. I do use plenty of water and heat it to a rolling boil before adding pasta. I stir it once, right after I dump in the pasta, and then I try not to stir it again unless it is really clumping.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    SO. CA
    I live in a hard water area. For cooking, including the water for pasta, I always use the water from the EVERPUR! I add a little salt, and spritz a little pam, or olive oil into the BIG pot of water.
    Can't have too much water! Stir with one of those spagetti tools.
    Stir often, and taste the pasta before the time is up for cooking!
    Better too much al dente, than overcooked. I dump the pasta into a colander, dot with a little butter or margarine and toss.
    I, too, used to make mushy pasta
    One, last word, USE ONLY IMPORTED PASTA FROM ITALY, MADE WITH SEMOLINA! Trader Joe is good for that, and cheap!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2001
    military family, Germany
    We eat an awful lot of pasta and angel hair pasta is one of my favorites. You have already gotten a lot of good advice - much of mine will be the same. Her eis a list of suggestions:

    Always be sure your water is plentiful and at a full boil - it should not just cover the pasta, but be an inch or so higher than the pasta level. Since the pasta absorbs water and expands, if you use too little water, then your pasta will gob up.

    Salt do not help prevent stickiness - it helps give a little flavor to the pasta and can help the water boil, supposedly. I have gone from never using salt,to always adding a small pinch, and back to adding no salt. I saw no difference whether I used salt or not, so I figured why add more sodium?

    I always add a tiny drop of olive oil to the boiling water before I add my pasta to the pot. Supposedly, the little bit of oil will keep the pasta from sticking. I find it does help.

    Always stir the water as you are adding the pasta or right after you dump it into the pot. If you don't stir right away, you will get clumps.

    I do usually rinse my pasta. According to chefs on Food Network, if you do not rinse, then your pasta sauce will cling better to the pasta. (Some cookbooks say to immediately toss drained pasta with a bit of butter or oil to keep it from clumping.)

    However, if you DO rinse the pasta, the exterior starch gets rinsed off, which is what causes the stickiness in the first place. If you need to reduce starch in your diet -especially for dietary reasons like diabetes, then rinsing cuts down a lot of the starch. I rinse the starch anyway - I don't have any problems with my sauce not clinging and I also don't have problems with my pasta sticking.

    Angel hair cooks so fast, you really need to check it 30 seconds after you drop it into the pot until you are used to that brand. I just give it a little stire and see how soft it appears. It takes only a couple of minutes max anyway - fresh is the fastest.

    Once you drain you pasta, if you need to keep it waiting on the table, keep it covered or the starch will start to solidfy and everything will gum up.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    We eat pasta often in our house. I believe that pasta sticks when you haven't used enough water. I always use lots of water. I seems to cook more even and quicker.

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