cooking macaroni

glad2gardenAugust 10, 2008

When I was in high school, my home ec teacher taught us to cook macaroni by putting the macaroni in boiling water, putting on the lid, and turning off the burner. Then time it for 7 or 9 minutes (thereabouts, because I can't remember the exact time). This method saved electricity and didn't steam up the house. We lived in a very poor area (hot, too) so this was the perfect way to cook pasta. So I'm wondering why the instructions on macaroni boxes say to boil it continuously, which seems like a waste of energy.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Another advantage to this method is you'll find it much easier to catch it at the perfect "al dente" stage than when at a full rolling boil.

The reason they don't recommend that method is simply because of consistency. Continuous boiling, while using more fuel, is more foolproof. Shutting it off and you'll be losing heat at various rates. So for the mfgr, they'd get a lot more complaints about it not turning out if they told someone to use the suggested method. There's several variables as it is, this removes one. Uneducated guess, but makes sense to me! Same thing about rinsing pasta. They suggest it for consistency, but many, including me, seldom will rinse pasta. But then again, I always try to use a good quality pasta.

This is how I've cooked macaroni and similar pastas for a long long time. I have a Corningware top electric stove and once the "Corning" is heated up, it holds the heat so I don't need to keep it on the full length of time and it'll cook in nearly the same amount of time. I always cover the pot to bring it to a boil and keep the cover on to keep the heat and humidity in for as long as possible. They even sell these silly pasta cookers that you boil water, put the pasta into it, pour the water into it and close it up. Any covered bowl or pot will do the same thing! But there's a sucker born every minute.

I've cooked macaroni in the microwave a few times too. It's been a long time. Seemed to work well. Often with flat noodles, like egg noodles I don't cook it if I put it in a hotdish or something. I never cook lasagna noodles anymore. They go into the pan and get baked or "Nescoed".

Spaghetti is a different thing though. There I not only keep it boiling throughout but also turn up the heat at the end. I NEVER salt the water and NEVER oil the water but I make sure there's plenty of water so that it will self-turn the pasta and it'll need very little stirring after the initial minute or so. Usually to keep it boiling I can have it on about 1/3 heat. I then strain the spaghetti, put the pan back on the high heat to get it quite hot and put the pasta from the strainer into the pan, lightly salt it and shake/stir it around in the pan to get rid of excess moisture. About 20-30 seconds is all that's needed, depending on the amount of pasta. I then put a ladle or so of sauce onto the pasta and stir in. That hot "dry" pasta just sucks that sauce in and you need very little sauce on top since the pasta is then seasoned and flavored. Even using canned sauce and box pasta, this is a gourmet treat. That pasta is not watery, the sauce is not diluted and it's piping HOT! And stays hot while you eat it.

A neighbor had a little trick I learned while I was quite young. We were going with them to their cabin and my buddy's Mom was getting some hot dogs ready. She took the dogs from the frig, put them into a thermos bottle and filled it with hot water. Of course they're precooked, which I didn't know at the time, and of course they were hot and tasty when we got to the cabin and had lunch. I didn't think it was an unusual size thermos but it held a lot of hot dogs. I was so impressed, it sticks with me to this day. I was used to having to get a fire going, or a grill or something. Not having "camping" type food READY! :)

More than you probably wanted to know, but I don't usually do short posts!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 2:10AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's the way I cook hard boiled eggs. Bring them to a boil, turn off the burner and let them sit for 20 minutes, or until the water cools.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 8:51AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

that was a really handy post. I cook pasta often and I have always wondered how restaurants infuse the flavor into their pasta, and why are the restaurants sauces more concentrated than I was able to get at home. My sister told me to only boil the pasta for half the time, drain it, then let it sit to continue cooking. I thought she was a quack!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2008 at 11:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

- Remember a few years ago the As-Seen-On-TV gadget, the Pasta Express? That plastic tube with an insulated cover worked by pouring boiling water into it and cooking pasta (as well as other foods - veggies/hot dogs) without prolonged cooking on the stove and heating up the kitchen. Same principle.

- I also do all-day or overnight cooking in a Thermos for a small amount of beans (equal to 15-16-oz. can of beans) for adding to salads or making refried beans, or steel-cut oats or other multi-grain cereal blends (5-grain, 7-grain, etc.), rather than long cooking times on the stove in a pan.

- Another energy-saving hint. Use an electric kettle to heat your water, even if you are going to eventually pan it for cooking pasta. Because the heating element is in direct contact with the water, it will heat in less time than a regular kettle on the stove or a pan of water. Heat from a flame or heating element is lost to the air (wasted energy); and the kettle or pan has to heat first to reach a temperature high enough to heat the water within it...which takes longer and costs more.

I even heat the water for doing the dishes that don't go in the dishwasher and clean-up after a meal. I use a small plastic tub to wash the dishes, rather than the large sink. It takes 5 c. hot water heated with an electric kettle, rather than firing up the water heater and filling a sink. It takes us about 1-gallon of water to wash and rinse dishes using this method.

- Another utility saver... The minimum amount of water for my electric kettle is enough water for two cups of tea. Each time I put the minimum amount in it, I make one cup of tea and then put the remainder of the hot water in a small Thermos to use later. Heat once, use twice.


    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 7:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You cvan also grill steaks on your car engine. I saw the method years ago in a newspaper , but I forgot the details. I'm doing my best NOT to use my car these days. Even at $3.83 a gallon, gas is too expensive to waste on errands I can do by walking. (And I do need the exercixe!)

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have a good's 112 here today, I could fry eggs on the patio...with out a pan.. Now that's

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 7:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Solar cooking! Reminds me to make some sun tea today.

We once spent a week on a boat and they had a big black plastic bag which was filled with water and placed on the top deck. By the end of the day it was a good hot water shower. I really wonder why we don't use more solar power here in southern CA????

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Want to know why we don't use more solar power? Because it's FREE! Can't tax the sun, now can we? ;)

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 12:56PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We don't use more solar power because it's too easy to flip a switch. We use two 5-gallon solar camp showers (you can find them in most sporting goods stores). I fill them and set them outside. We have a special heavy-duty hook in the shower to hold it.

I also use regularly two solar ovens.


    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 2:08PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been using solar cookers too. It does take a little extra work, thinking ahead, watching the weather, turning the oven. But it's worth it for the great feeling of using free power and the taste of the food is sooooooo good!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 2:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Cooking pasta.. seen a new gadget called Pasta Express.. put pasta in, add boiling water and stick lid on and it cooks it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scotts of Stow

    Bookmark   August 19, 2008 at 9:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We've been cooking (actually steaming) corn on the cob for years in a covered frying pan. Just a couple inches of water, when it boils turn the heat way down or off. Its ready faster than it would take a large pot of water to boil. And it doesn't heat up your kitchen.

Also boil eggs like Arizonarose does. Bring to a boil, turn off, and let sit 20 min.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 10:07AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
How some people can make 35% on some of their money ...guaranteed
At a "World MoneyShow" in Toronto last month,...
Saving money on water
Unfortunately, in this case you may have to spend to...
What 'Home Improvements' are worth it?
Hi, I posted this message as a response to the woman...
Holiday decorations
Hey all, I've got a great money saving tip for everyone. You...
are your sheets coming off?
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™