Being green with your pasta

by Kate Steadman

Via the NYTimes, one of their reporters calculated the effect of using less water when boiling pasta:

My rough figuring indicates an energy savings at the stove top of several trillion B.T.U.s. At the power plant, that would mean saving 250,000 to 500,000 barrels of oil, or $10 million to $20 million at current prices. Significant numbers, though these days they sound like small drops in a very large pot.

And actually the author puts the pasta into the pot with cold water and boils it all at once. It’s faster because you don’t have to wait for the water to boil before putting in the pasta and it’ll boil more quickly with less water. He admits that it takes more stirring and that the left over water is thicker when you’re done, but all in all I think I could get behind this.

Although I’m a little concerned by the author’s fondness for pasta water:

Whole-wheat pasta water is surprisingly delicious.

My thought was one only does such things like add the pasta water to a sauce, not eating it alone?

10 responses to “Being green with your pasta

  1. Alternatively, boil like normal and drain through a filter into your water heater, assuming you aren’t looking forward to drinking all of the water.

    I think this is more or less how everyone makes pasta who doesn’t cook for a family and doesn’t have a billion-BTU stove to avoid waiting forever for an Alton-Brown-approved volume of water to boil.

  2. Hmmm…that delicious “thick” water is filled with starch, which means you just made yourself a pile of slightly gummy pasta. If you’re using a fairly heavy sauce, it may not matter much. But if you’re trying to keep it light, like say with just some olive oil, lemon zest and rosemary or Parmesan, bleh.

  3. I’m not terribly surprised that whole wheat pasta water is surprisingly delicious. When I lived in Costa Rica, I learned how to make a wonderful refresco using oatmeal. It did an amazing job quenching thirst and perking you right up.

  4. That wasn’t just “one of their reporters” but famous food scientist Harold McGee, author of “On Food and Cooking”!

    You call yourselves foodies? ;}

  5. Lis Riba beat me to it, writing exactly the same note I came here to write.

    Harold McGee is just about the most important name to know when it comes to science and food. He’s not so much a NY Times reporter as he is a pivotal name in the chemistry of food and cooking.

  6. This is why we’re *amateur* foodies

  7. Some preparations for Japanese noodles (I’m thinking Soba) call for drinking the water they’re boiled in, so this isn’t unheard of. I’ve tried this myself and I wouldn’t call the flavor unpleasant (you’re eating noodles with the same one, after all), but I can’t imagine looking forward to it, specifically.

    Nutritionally, though, it seems like a great way to make sure you get every nutrient and mineral and calorie out of your pasta.

  8. Thanks for illuminating us about the identity of the author. I think it is very helpful to know more about his background in this case and I didn’t pick up on where his perspective comes from by reading the article.

  9. My thought was one only does such things like add the pasta water to a sauce, not eating it alone?

    But if it’s delicious, why not?

  10. When I lived in Costa Rica, I learned how to make a wonderful refresco using oatmeal. It did an amazing job quenching thirst and perking you right up.

    I’ll bite. How do you make a wonderful refresco using oatmeal?

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