How can I prevent pasta from clumping in the pot?


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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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Despite what you may have heard, adding oil to the water does nothing. A pinch of salt lends a little flavor—but again, does nothing to prevent clumping. The only way to prevent pasta from sticking as it cooks is to be sure you have plenty of vigorously boiling water. When you think about the fact that pasta expands to about three times its size when it cooks, you can see why if you try to boil one cup of pasta in two cups of water, it's going to all stick together. Now picture that same one cup of dry penne jumping around in eight cups of boiling water—and you can just as easily see why it won't clump.

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Marge Perry
Mar, 2010
  1. Enter at least one ingredient