If you think making spaghetti is as easy as just boiling water, you’re wrong. But here’s how you can prevent them from sticking together:
- Big pots do the trick: Spaghetti needs enough water to cook. Small pots don’t give the pasta enough space or water to cook in. This is because in a small pot, the temperature of the water tends to drop more significantly than it would in a large amount of water in a bigger pot, and it will take longer for the water to return to a boil. This means that the pasta will end up sitting in non-boiling water for a good amount of time, resulting in clumpy pasta. Also, long noodles won’t fit in a small pot. Breaking spaghetti to fit into a small pot is considered a culinary crime. Sticky pasta can also result from the pasta starch to water ratio being too high. You need to fill a large pot with 20 cups of water per pound of pasta.
- An additive to the boiling water helps: Don’t worry, you won’t be ingesting all the salt, it will only season the pasta slightly. But it’s a must to add salt to the cooking water. The salt will stay in the water and be in contact with the surface of the pasta and keeps it from getting slimy as it cooks. The other secret is the timing of when you add the salt—add it when the water comes to a boil and only a tablespoon. Stir the pasta with a wooden spoon to keep it moving in the pot and avoid any sticking.
- Only add the pasta to boiling water: If pasta sits in water that is not hot enough, it can become sticky. Let the water come to a rapid boil and only then add the pasta. Once you have added the pasta, the temperature of the water will drop. Stir the pasta and let the water come back to a full boil. This will prevent clumpy noodles.
- Oil the pasta at the right time: There is much confusion as to when to oil the pasta—should we add oil to boiling water or should we toss cooked pasta with oil to prevent sticking? Don’t do either as this makes the pasta too slippery for any sauce to later adhere to the spaghetti. To prevent cooked pasta from sticking, toss it with a bit of olive oil right after draining it in a colander or strainer. If you aren’t going to be eating the pasta for a while, run it under cold water to remove the starch and then reheat it in the sauce when you are ready to serve.
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