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Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Salt the water when cooking pasta or beans

I love beans and I love pasta! We eat beans often, but pasta is more of a treat. Last week I made macaroni and cheese for lunch with the kids... so delicious! (I'm ready to enjoy some non-grilled comfort foods again, now that the weather is cooler.)

When I posted my tips for perfect, tender cooked beans, I mentioned that I like to add salt to the cooking water. The salt does not stop the beans from becoming tender and soft, but DOES give a great flavor to the beans, since the salt is in the beans and not just sprinkled on after cooking.

Adding salt when cooking beans eliminates the problem of either A) draining off the salt when you drain the beans or B) needing to stir salt into the cooked beans and ending up smashing them in the process.

Now, the part about pasta. I had known for a long time that adding salt to the water when cooking pasta was an option. I didn't routinely do it or even consider why it might be a good idea until recently though!

Just as beans absorb the salty water and are perfectly salted after cooking, adding salt to your water when cooking pasta salts the pasta from the inside and gives a great flavor! This also eliminates the issue of needing to make an extra-salty sauce to make up for unsalted pasta.

I now always add salt when I'm cooking beans or pasta, and I love the results! Is there anything else like this that you add salt to when cooking? I'd love to hear about it! :)

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Cleaning your stained crock pot (Heather at Feel Good About Dinner)
2. Freezing pizza dough (SnoWhite at Finding Joy in My Kitchen)
3. Leftover tomato sauce tip (Living So Abundantly)
4. Baking dishes tip (Anna at The Joyful Wife)
5. Homemade dishwasher rinse aid (Adrienne at Whole New Mom)
6. Save money on paper towels (Stacy at Stacy Makes Cents)
7. How to puree winter squash (The Gentle Mom)
8. How to puree pumpkin (Carrie at My Favorite Finds)
9. Making colored sugar for decorating (Cooking Luck)
10. Cleaning coffee parts (Christine at iDreamofClean)
11. Drying herbs from the garden (Blessed Roots)
12. Potato tips (Donna at Moms Frugal)
13. Tips for canning green beans (Gretchen at Extraordinary Ordinary Life)
14. Thawing baby food quickly without the microwave (Covenant Homemaking)

Comments

Hi, Tammy. Thanks for the

Hi, Tammy. Thanks for the tip. I have tired salt both ways with the beans too. It does work better to add at the beginning. Fried eggs is something I think tastes better if you add the salt and pepper while they are cooking. It's not the same just sprinkled on top after.

The tip I would like to share today is how to get your crockpot clean when it is stained. There are also some good tips in the comments from readers. Thanks so much for sharing! http://www.feelgoodaboutdinner.com/2011/09/cleaning-your-stained-crock.html

Kitchen Tip - Save Time & Energy

I am all for simplicity. And my tip will save you time and energy!

Anna :)

http://anna-thejoyfulwife.blogspot.com/2011/09/kitchen-tip-save-time-energy.html

Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid (w/ a tip)

Hi Tammy!

My post this week is about Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid (it's super simple)
but it has a tip that saved me a bunch of time & frustration. I should really just laugh at myself about how long it took to figure this out...

http://wholenewmom.com/recipes/natural-homemade-dishwasher-rinse-aid/

Blessings,
Adrienne

I would like to add my meal

I would like to add my meal plan for the week, which includes the recipe for my go-to, fast, easy dinner--shrimp stir fry. Thanks!

http://www.thehumbledhomemaker.com/2011/09/plan-it-dont-panic-meal-plan-for-919.html

Stacy Makes Cents's picture

True!

Tammy, your tip is so true! :-)

Today my kitchen tip is how to save money on paper towels:
http://www.stacymakescents.com/surgical-huck-towels

Thanks!

~Stacy from Stacy Makes Cents

Oatmeal

I always add salt to oatmeal while it is cooking. Once I forgot to add salt until the oatmeal was done and it was the worst tasting oatmeal we had ever had!

Tammy's picture

Salt in oatmeal

Great tip! I usually do sprinkle a little salt in when I add the oats for oatmeal, but that's more so I don't forget it altogether! :) I don't think I've paid attention to how it tastes with/without salt though... maybe this says something about how awake I am in the mornings?? :)

My mom salted the water for

My mom salted the water for pasta growing up -- but I haven't tried it for beans. Good tips! Thanks for sharing and thanks for linking up my post :)

Blessings,
SnoWhite

How to Puree Winter Squash

http://www.thegentlemom.com/2011/09/kitchen-tip-how-to-puree-winter-squash.html

I need to start salting pasta and beans regularly. I always forget, and then end up trying to add flavor at the end - which is just, frankly, silly. :)

Potatoes!

We always add salt when we cook potatoes in water, such as for mashing or soup.

Tammy's picture

Salt for cooking potatoes

I need to remember to do this!! :) Thanks for sharing.

How to Puree Pumpkin

I always use salt with my pasta, but not with my beans. I think I'll try that !

http://myfavoritefinds.blogspot.com/2011/09/tuesdays-kitchen-tip-pureeing-pumpkin.html

Colored sugar for decorating cakes and cookies

I agree with the person who salts oatmeal before cooking. It makes a huge difference.

My tip is about making colored sugar to decorate cakes and cookies:
http://cookingluck.blogspot.com/2011/09/making-colored-sugar-for-decorating.html

How much salt do you add?

How much salt do you add? I've heard of this before, and tried sprinkling some salt in when I made pasta, but I didn't really notice a difference. Maybe I need to use more than a sprinkle?

LOTS of salt

The water should taste salty. But I don't taste the water. I never measure so I can't tell you for sure.

When I boiled turkey sausage last week I added salt to the water. Made a HUGE difference! (i didn't add salt to the water the other times I boiled the sausage)

Tammy's picture

How much salt for cooking pasta

Yes, more than just a sprinkle... supposedly it should be salty "like the sea"! :) I haven't measured, but I probably use at least a tablespoon when cooking a pound of pasta and I use about 2-3 quarts of water for that... I think I'm supposed to use more water than that, according to the directions... in which case, I think I'd need more salt, as well... :)

Add salt so it won't stick

Yes, it adds flavor and, as I was taught, salt is added so that the noodles won't stick to the bottom of the pot during boiling. ~ Patrik

cleaning coffee pots

I've always heard to salt the water before boiling so I do it. Honestly, I can't tell a difference either way but I do it anyway...b/c I'm "supposed" to :-)

My tip today is about cleaning coffee parts: http://www.idreamofclean.net/2011/09/16/cleaning-coffee-makers-are-you-forgetting-to-clean-an-important-part/

Thanks!
Christine (iDreamofClean)

I thought that everybody put

I thought that everybody put salt in beans, but hadn't put much thought into it. My mom always did so that was how i thought you were supposed to do it. And pasta i did to until my mother in law wanted to put butter in my macaroni when it was cooking. I said why, and she was like " to keep it from sticking". Told her that was one of the reasons i put salt in my water.

Drying Herbs from the Garden

Can't wait to read all the great tips this week! Thanks for hosting.

I posted an easy trick for drying herbs from the garden.

http://blessedrootsblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/kitchen-tip-tuesday-drying-herbs/

Potato Tips

http://momsfrugal.blogspot.com/2011/09/kitchen-tip-tuesday-potato-tips.html

Salt- I've heard that salting beans before they are done keeps them tough and that you should only salt once they've softened. :-)

Blessings!
Donna

Tammy's picture

Salting water for cooking beans

I've heard that too, Donna, which is why I waited a long time to try doing it. :) I have had older beans that didn't get soft during cooking (in plain water), but I've not noticed the salt affecting the tenderness of my beans at all.

I do think that cooking beans in the crock pot is the very best way to cook them so they are tender but not falling apart! It makes a big difference! :)

I've also read that water hardness can affect dry beans during cooking, as well as acidic ingredients. I'm still figuring out the acidic ingredients part... I'm not sure exactly how much of that is true, either (although I tend to think it is at least partly the case).

At any rate, fresh (or properly stored) dry beans + the crock pot + salt is my favorite way to prepare dried beans! :)

I never salted beans,

I never salted beans, either, because I heard it prevented them from softening. I decided to be brave after I read this post, started a crock of beans before I left for work, and walked into a house that smelled YUMMY! :) Thanks for helping me out of my comfort zone into something much better. :)

Tammy's picture

Yay! :)

Yay! :)

Canning Green Beans

I never salt my bean water, but will definitely do it now! My tip is regarding canning green beans.

Gretchen @ Extraordinary Ordinary Life

http://extraordinaryordinarylife.blogspot.com/2011/09/tips-on-canning-green-beans.html

Adding Salt to Beans

I always add salt to boiling cooking water. As far as beans, I don't add salt, per se, but I do cook in bouillon (chicken or a ham bouillon) which has salt in it. I add adobo seasoning (found in the hispanic section of the grocery store or in hispanice food markets) when the beans are almost done or before serving.

Quick Question...

What is the other 'casserole' type dish in the chicken vermicelli picture? It looks yummy whatever it is!!

Tammy's picture

The casserole in the chicken vermicelli photo is...

It is cheesy potatoes! :) I used to make those for company regularly... I'll have to do that again this winter. :)

Thawing baby food quickly without the microwave

http://www.covenanthomemaking.com/2011/09/thawing-baby-food-quickly-without.html

homemade baking powder

Sorry, I don't have a website but here's my Tuesday tip from a 1986 cookbook called The Cabbagetown Cafe Cookbook.
Homemade baking powder has all the levening power of commercial baking powders but none of the metallic aftertaste. To make 1 teaspoon baking powder:

mix together 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/4 teaspoon oornstarch. Jan in South Carolina

Tammy's picture

Homemade baking powder

Thank you, Jan! That is a great baking powder solution for if I run out of baking powder! :)

salted pasta water

I took a cooking class from a chef trained in Italy and she said you should only add salt to the boiling water immediately before the pasta. According to Italian wisdom, the water becomes "bitter" if you add if too soon. And, do not add oil because the sauce will not adhere to the pasta. Ideally, you have the pasta and the sauce ready at the same time so you can simply add a little sauce to the freshly cooked pasta to keep it from sticking.

Tammy's picture

When to add salt to the pasta water

Fascinating! Thanks for sharing! :)

Agree - potatoes!!!

It makes a huge difference in the potatoe flavor. Yummers!

Amount of salt

How much salt do you use in your pasta and beans, Tammy? I'm sure you probably don't measure, but approximately.

Tammy's picture

Measurements for salt when cooking beans and pasta

I have tried measuring for my beans (simply because I don't like the bother of tasting/guessing every time, especially if it's for company or a potluck!), and I *think* this is what I like:

6-quart slow cooker with 6 (maybe 7) cups of dry (washed) pinto beans

Fill to the top with water

Stir in 2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons salt

...so I guess that is about 1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of dry beans.

If anyone else has measurements for how much salt they add to their beans, feel free to chime in! I do know I have gotten them too salty at least once... I think I added at least a tablespoon into the crock pot.

I'm guessing it also depends on how much water you are using to cook the beans... because some salt would stay in the water and get drained off at the end??? I pretty much always use my crock pot and do 6-7 cups, which fills it to the top, so that is how I've been able to work out an approximate measurement. :)

For pasta -- my comment from above:

I haven't measured, but I probably use at least a tablespoon when cooking a pound of pasta and I use about 2-3 quarts of water for that... I think I'm supposed to use more water than that, according to the directions... in which case, I think I'd need more salt, as well... :)

I do know the pasta water should be salty... not just a little salty. :)

Hope this helps! :)

The scientific reason

The real reason to add salt to water is because it raises the temperature at which the water boils. By raising the boiling point, the water gets hotter and foods cook more quickly.

Tammy's picture

Boiling point of water and food cooking times

If 2 tablespoons of salt in 2 cups of water (which is very salty... much saltier than I use for beans or pasta!) increases the boiling point by 5 degrees Fahrenheit... then the question is:

By raising the boiling point of water by ~2%, how much faster does the food cook? I'm sure different foods are different (% faster)... does the 2% increase in water temperature result in 5-10% or faster cooking times? This would be such a fun experiment! :)

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