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Forget Boiling: How to Cook Pasta and Save Cooking Fuel

Backpacking Pasta How to Cook

Many of us shy away from eating dried pasta on backpacking trips because it takes so long to cook and uses too much stove fuel.

But did you know that you don’t have boil dried pasta using the amount of water recommended on the package or for the entire boil time?

Simply cover your noodles with water, bring the water to a boil, give your noodles a stir, and then turn off the heat (keeping the pot covered) Full stop. Your pasta will cook in the same amount of time and to the same texture as it would have if it cooked at a full boil.

You can save a lot of fuel this way and enjoy your favorite spaghetti noodles or shapes. It also means that you don’t need a simmering capable stove to cook plain pasta and that bringing a pot cozy is probably a better investment than carrying more fuel.

More Pasta Cooking Tips:

Buy quick cook pasta which only takes 1-3 minutes to cook.

Make a pot cozy or buy one to keep the hot water warm while your pasta soaks.

If you have a small pot and want to cook spaghetti, break the noodles in halves or thirds so they’ll fit in your cookpot.

Save the pasta water that’s leftover after your pasta has cooked. It makes a very good base for rehydrating pasta sauce and the starch in the water helps keep the sauce on your noodles. Not using sauce? Drink the water for the added calories.

You don’t need to drain the water out of the pot when you cook pasta, it’s perfectly ok to pick it out of the pot with a fork.

You don’t need to add olive oil to your pasta to keep it from sticking together. It actually makes it harder to keep the sauce on your pasta because it slips off.

You don’t need to add salt to your water to raise the boiling point of the water, so your pasta cooks faster. In reality, you would need to add 230 grams (0.5 lbs) of table salt to a liter of water just to raise the boiling point by 2 degrees celsius, more than anyone could tolerate. Salt is really only good for adding flavor.

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  1. Great article! Going to try this tomorrow!

  2. Although I love the different shapes, especially Rigatoni, when I’m hungry and have no patience to wait, I’ll cook Angel Hair pasta. It’s thinner than spaghetti and I always have it on hand. It takes 4 minutes whereas other shapes take 10 -12. I’ve never cooked on a trail though. Thanks for saying not to add oil to the pasta water. It makes me crazy when people do that! I never add salt to the water either. I don’t see the point. Whatever sauce you’re going to put on it will have salt so why oversalt? I’m really enjoying your newsletter.

  3. Useful article.

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