Pasta is a type of food that is enjoyed by most people around the world. It originated in the Far East and has been around since the 4th Century.
It is said that a nobleman named Marco Polo, was the one who brought pasta from China and introduced it to Italy. So pasta, in general, is believed to have originated from China. Now we know a little about the history of pasta, we need to understand how to properly cook it as well.
So, how do we know when pasta is actually done cooking, can you eat overcooked or undercooked pasta, and are there tips to getting the perfect noodle every time? We will be covering any pasta-related question that may be in your head… or it might not.
How Do You Tell If Pasta Is Overcooked Or Undercooked?
There are quite a few ways you can tell that pasta is over or undercooked. One of the ways you can tell is by the texture of your pasta when you check it. Overcooked pasta has a texture that is super soft. It doesn’t have any kind of firmness to it like perfectly cooked pasta does.
Undercooked pasta has a very hard, and crunchy texture. There is way too much firmness, you would feel like you are eating chips. But if it is undercooked, you can always cook the rest of that pasta for a little longer!
Another way you can tell if the pasta is overcooked is by the taste. Some people, like myself, check pasta by taste testing. Overcooked pasta tastes very gummy and some would say sticky too.
There is a way you can tell that your pasta is undercooked with taste as well. I can personally attest to the gross taste of undercooked and hard pasta. It is very crunchy but sorta soft, which makes it not very pleasant to taste. It does get stuck in your teeth, being undercooked.
So, it’s common knowledge that you can’t really save noodles if they are overcooked. They are too soggy with water at that point, it would be easier to try again or make something else completely different. However, you can save undercooked pasta, by just cooking it a little longer.
How Long Does Pasta Take To Cook?
Pasta is considered quick and easy to make. However, that is not always the case. Since there are multiple different shaped pasta noodles and also many different thicknesses, not every noodle will be cooked in a quick manner.
There are very thin noodles, like the angel hair pasta, that don’t take long at all to cook, since there isn’t much thickness to them for the boiling water to get through. They could only take around 2 minutes if there is a small number of noodles at a time, but if you put an entire box, it will take longer.
Now thicker pasta, like regular spaghetti noodles, take longer to cook because there is more dough to cook through. The average amount of time that the average noodle can take to cook is 10-12 minutes, some of the thinner and smaller ones might take only eight minutes, but it is always good to test a noodle before removing all the noodles.
We can even go further in this article and talk about an even thicker noodle. They make a kind of pasta called thick pasta. This noodle definitely lives up to its name. You can see how much bigger a thick pasta noodle is compared to the regular spaghetti noodle as well as the angel hair noodle.
Lastly, there are hollow, spiraled, and many other shapes and sizes and thicknesses as well. Taking that into consideration could also help with knowing how long to cook.
Is Overcooked Pasta Hard Or Soft?
We know that overcooked pasta is pasta that was cooking in boiling water for far too long. When something like pasta or potatoes are put in boiling water, they start out hard and not very easy to eat.
Then, when they are in that boiling water for a little while, they begin to soften. Eventually, they will get to their perfect softness. However, if you go over that certain time/softness then you get an overcooked pasta. So, overcooked pasta is completely soft when eaten. There is absolutely no crunch or hardness.
Is It Okay To Eat Undercooked Pasta?
It’s absolutely okay to eat undercooked, and even raw, pasta noodles. Although it shouldn’t and isn’t considered a meal, much less a healthy one. There are plenty of people, especially kids but definitely adults too.
Even though it might not be harmful to eat undercooked pasta, if you eat a large amount in one sitting then it’s not very good, but that goes for everything we consume, drinks and food alike.
Pasta is made with flour and eggs so if you do eat raw pasta noodles, there may be a small trace of E. Coli, but don’t worry because as long as you don’t eat half or an entire box of pasta, you will be completely fine.
Can You Overcook Pasta?
You can 100% overcook pasta. You can overcook any kind of pasta if you don’t follow the directions on the package, or on the internet. It is always a good idea to make sure you know exactly what you are doing when cooking pasta.
Some unfortunate problems that occur if you do overcook your pasta include: there are fewer nutrients, Glycemic Index, and it is extremely mushy and soft. You can tell if it is overcooked by the look, smell, taste, and texture.
What Does It Mean When Pasta Is Chewy?
Chewy pasta happens when it is undercooked, and didn’t have that perfect time to cook enough. Doing this can cause the pasta to be sticky and chewy. Chewy and undercooked pasta can for sure get stuck in your teeth, and make it feel very uncomfortable and like glue on the teeth.
Can pasta also be chewy when it is overcooked? No, not really. The chewiness is definitely when you don’t cook it long enough, overcooking the pasta will make it kinda fall apart easy and very soft to chew.
Things To Consider
There are many things to consider during the making of pasta noodles. One of the things you should carefully consider is the ingredients. There may be multiple things that need to be cooked as well as the noodles, and it is best to figure out when is the best time to start cooking the noodles.
You don’t want to cook them too early because they will be sitting there waiting for everything else to cook, which can ultimately make the pasta stick together. That is obviously, not what you want.
You don’t need butter or creamy to make them creamy during the cooking phase, unless your specific recipe calls for it, it’s not a need. People usually save the buttering for plain noodles, or after the noodles are drained, if they even use butter at all on the noodles.
Something that is somewhat important to know is the type of water you use matters. The minerals in the water will have an effect on how your pasta ends up tasting. The minerals found in different waters were claimed to affect the texture and starch levels of said noodles. Make sure your water isn’t too hard.
Tips for Cooking Pasta
So, now that we have established what overcooked and undercooked pasta is, why pasta can be chewy and all of that other good stuff we covered, I will be leaving a list of tips for making the best pasta every time:
- DO NOT put any oil in the water while cooking your pasta. This will cause them to clump up and they won’t be separate at all.
- Make sure you fill your pot with the proper amount of water. You shouldn’t fill it all the way to the top of the pot, but make sure it’s definitely not less than half of the pot.
- One way you can season your pasta is by salting the water you are using. That way your noodles are a little salty but if you put too much salt, the noodles may taste like salt.
- Make sure your water is at a rolling boil and nothing less than that.
- As soon as all of your pasta hits the boiling water, stir it immediately. Pasta lands in one spot, usually on top of one another. Stirring will help separate the noodles.
- If your package of noodles has a cooking time on it, then adhere to those instructions.
- Drain your noodles. Don’t let them sit for too long or “dry” them, they will start to stick together.
- Add some of that pasta water to your sauce. I have never thought of this before, but if you put some pasta water in the sauce, it should help enrichen the taste of the pasta and makes the sauce adhere to the pasta better.