The Real Reason You Should Pre-Soak Pasta Noodles

Life is busy and we are always looking for ways to make cooking a little easier to save you time, especially during the work week, when the juggle is real. Pasta is one of those go-to meals in any culinary arsenal that is both easy to prepare, and can be dressed up or down for almost any occasion. Cooking pasta old-school can be gratifying, but it still takes time to boil the water, and then patiently wait for the noodles to cook for what can seem like forever, depending on the pasta. Those are precious minutes you could be using to help a kid with math, prepare another element of your dish, or engage in some therapeutic online retail therapy. That's why pre-soaking your pasta noodles is such a great hack, saving you both time and energy (via Buzzfeed).

But does pre-soaking work? We were a little skeptical as well, because the only thing worse than under-cooked pasta, is water-logged, mushy pasta. Thankfully, the bloggers at Ideas in Food decided to test this trick. They theorized that there are two factors that contribute to pasta cooking: hydration and heat. Pre-soaking separates these two required elements. They had similar concerns to ours, but the results were surprising.

Pasta in 60 seconds

The adventurous bloggers took linguine and soaked it in a bag of cold water for an hour and a half. If you decide to try pre-soaking and are worried about the plastic bag leaking, you can also use a baking pan and cover it with some cling wrap. But container aside, the pasta was flexible and soft — but not too soft — and didn't stick together. When noodles were added to salted, boiling water for 60 seconds, the perfect al dente pasta resulted.

Exploratorium notes that two things are happening when we cook pasta. The pasta absorbs water and the starches and proteins in the pasta break down. But they also said the two processes do not need to happen at the same time. Pasta noodles can absorb water regardless of temperature; higher temperatures just make the absorption happen more quickly. To be fully cooked, the starches and proteins need to breakdown and this requires heat, thus, the boiling water step. 

This two-step method saves time and energy, literally. Ready for a completely mind-blowing tip? Skip boiling water all together and toss the pre-soaked pasta into your hot pasta sauce instead.