The Reason You Should Save Your Pasta Water isn’t Why You Think

Pasta water might not be something we think about much — once our noodles are finished cooking and al dente, we might pour it into the sink without a second thought. But for those of us who haven’t been saving our pasta water, we really should be because we’re pouring a useful kitchen ingredient right down the drain. One good reason to keep your pasta water is that it’s an essential ingredient for building pasta sauces, and it also helps the sauce cling to the pasta. But while you might be familiar with adding a splash of pasta water to the sauce, there are other, less common reasons you should save that pasta water too.
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Getty Images
Once you’re finished cooking pasta, instead of pouring it into a strainer, Taste of Home recommends using tongs or a pasta fork to take it out of the water, so you don’t waste a single drop. Even if you’re not immediately adding it to a sauce, you can save all that good pasta water for later. Rachael Ray suggests freezing your leftover pasta water in ice cube trays, so you can pull a cube out of the freezer whenever you need one. You can then add them to soups or pan sauces in place of broth or for thickening sauce on another day.

More Ways to Use Pasta Water

You can also freeze leftover pasta water and using it in place of broth. You can do this by adding it to vegetarian soups either in place of or in addition to veggie broth. You can also use pasta water for cooking beans; the extra starch in the water makes a super yummy bean broth, especially if you’re slow-cooking the beans over several hours. Cooking dried beans in leftover pasta water helps soften their skins and season them.

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Shutterstock

Surprisingly, pasta water also comes in handy for baking bread and pizza dough. You read that right: Replace the plain water in your bread recipe with the leftover pasta water. This works for recipes like pizza dough, sourdough, and quick bread. Thanks to the extra starch in the water, your bread will brown better and have an extra crispy crust. In quick bread recipes, it can even make the loaf a little chewier. If you decide to sub in the pasta water for plain, test the water for saltiness and leave the salt out of your bread recipe, so it doesn’t end up too salty. Far from just being good for thickening sauces, leftover pasta water is almost like gold in your kitchen, so don’t waste it by dumping it down the drain on your next Italian night.