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How do you keep fettucine pasta from sticking together?

Every time I cook dry fettucine pasta, I always seem to wind up with a number of strands of pasta that have stuck together. Usually, the noodles that have stuck together have not cooked all the way thru. Now that I think of it, I have also had the same with fresh fettucine pasta.

I have tried using a larger pot with more water and also stirring the noodles more often while the water is boiling. That does seem to help, but I still wind up with a number of noodles stuck together.

Does anyone have a suggestion to keep this from happening?

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  1. start with quality pasta.

    do not add it until the water is at a rolling boil.

    stir several times until the water comes back up to a boil.

    stir several more times, being sure to always move all the pasta. one of those forky-spoony things is quite helpful.

    ignore those who may advise adding oil to the water. total waste of oil since the water keeps it from getting to the pasta and oil and water do NOT combine.

    be careful to not overcook, drain well and promptly in a colander with a few hard shakes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Further, oil remains on the pasta after draining and will prevent the sauce from adhering properly.

      I'm thinking overcooking is the prime problem here, combined with not enough water.

      1. re: jmckee

        1) I never put oil in the pot when cooking pasta.

        2) I am 99.9% sure overcooking not is the prime problem here, as the strands of fettucine stick together very early after they are placed into the boiling water, not after they have been in water for a while.i

    2. With fresh pasta in particular--especially store bought--you need to make sure it is not stuck together when it put it in. Take it out of the package and lay it all out--probably 25% will have to be separated by hand into individual strands. If you don't do it now, it will never happen.

      1. Lots of salted water, don't ever put pasta in until the water is boiling, I break my pasta in half to get full submersion right away, and for easier stirring, stir pasta pretty much constantly until the water comes back to a full boil, by that point the pasta should have softened a fair amount, and you shouldn't have any sticking as long as you give it an occasional stir. but its that early stirring that keeps the pasta separated until the outer starch washes away.

        1. Thanks for your helpful suggestions!

          1. Most likely you're still not using enough H2O in the pot, I recommend 6-8 qts for a pound of pasta. next make sure you're at a rolling boil before adding pasta.

            1. Hmm, I am suspicious - my boyfriend named David also has this problem. Perhaps you are him posting under a different initial? :)

              We have an insufficiently sized pot but when I make fettucine it doesn't stick because I watch and stir! Also, this type of spoon helps: http://www.amazon.com/Good-Grips-Nylo...

              You can use it to swish the noodles apart at the beginning.

              1 Reply
              1. I echo what everyone else has said, and I would add that with long pasta shapes I try to fan the pasta out when I put it in the water, and try to fan it more as it sits (before it is soft enough to fully submerge, that is). Once it can be fully submerged without breaking, I stir it well and use tongs to lift and drop bunches of the pasta in and out of the water - it allows you to see if there are any clumps that need attention, and breaks some of them up in the process.

                1. I use tongs to move it around the pot all through the cooking process. No oil. I use an 8 qt. stockpot for a pound of pasta.

                  1. 1) OIL IS N.G.!!! All it does is keep the water from boiling over. The pasta sinks to the bottom, and the oil floats on top. Don't waste good oil!!!

                    2) Make sure the water is at a FREAKIN' ROLLING BOIL!!!
                    MORE WATER is better. One gallon (4 quarts wet measure) per one pound (dry measure) of pasta is recommended. Salt helps a lot. Make sure it tastes like sea water...

                    3) USE PREMIUM PASTA, not the cheap shit, it makes a big difference. Making your own (using a pasta maker, "I'm not that crazy") is real easy and is really tasty. You can make a lot of different types and season/fill them with almost anything you want. You'll quickly notice, and fall in love with fresh pasta, compared to processed/dried.

                    If you don't have the dough (ha-ha) for a pasta maker, stop into your local Guido market i.e., Corrados' Italian Market in Wayne, NJ, United States. Nice soppressata, freshly made Brooklyn sausage - I love this little market for great prices on Italian salads, meats, and cheeses. The mozzerella is the joint!!! You can't beat a local Italian market. They make fresh pasta daily, offer many things you cannot get at the regular stop/shop type places. Long and short cuts are basically cooked the same, lasagna aside.

                    Take a ride, check it out, and enjoy what Italian/Mediterranean markets have to offer!!!

                    If living in the N.E., try the great markets in NYC, New Joisey, Boston, Philly, you can't beat them!! A few of mt favorites are: Calandra's Bakery, DiAnna's Bakery, Corrado's Italian Market, DiBrunos', Labriola's, Esposito's, Mazzaro's, Caffe Italia, Fratangelo Gardens, Giacomo's Italian Market, Talluto's Italian Market, Philadelphia Italian Market Festival, S. 9th Street Italian Market.

                    One thing to ponder: Sauce or Gravy ???

                    1. Just posting to point out that Harold McGee's research shows that large amounts of boiling water are not necessary. Here is a CH thread on successfully cooking pasta in lesser volumes of water: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/583856 When I do spaghetti this way, I come back after 5 minutes and stir once, to separate the column of strands that remain together. That's all it takes. Return cover, come back 10 minutes later, drain. I'll have to try fettucine and see if there's a difference.