Step away from that colander!  

Corey Williams
Updated: March 20, 2019

I don’t want to alarm you, but you’re likely committing a grievous crime against pasta every time you cook it. Seriously—every time you pour murky pasta waster down the drain, an angel (hair noodle) cries.

Here’s why:

That water (which, admittedly, looks kind of dirty) is chock full of starch that will help emulsify and thicken a simple pan sauce and even aid a sauce cooked in a separate pot bind to your noodles. This propensity for unifying a few delicious elements is what makes pasta water is essential in classic dishes like cacio e pepe and carbonara.

Emulsification happens when you blend two liquids that would otherwise repel each other (i.e. oil and water), according to Huffington Post, into a smooth, cohesive mixture.

Slowly adding a few spoonfuls of the starch-enriched cooking liquid into a sauce will bind together the liquids and fats present in the sauce.

In other words, you’ll never again have to deal with that annoying oil separation that tends to happen with some sauces.

Cool, right?

To save your pasta water, you’re gonna need the right tools. You could ladle the cup or two that you’ll want to have for making the sauce at hand. If you want to save more for later, however, you have three options:

  1. Use tongs to quickly remove the pasta from the pot. Tedious, but effective.
  2. Buy one of these amazing spider strainers. It’s like a mini colander with a handle, allowing you to scoop and drain the noodles while leaving the water right where it is.
  3. Drain the pasta as you normally would, but place the colander over a large mixing bowl.