Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Aug 18, 2011 07:09 AM

Salting water - A poll - why or why not?

Do you salt your water for boiling pasta, taters, rice, couscous etc...? Why or why not? And, I'm not talking about no salt for dietary restrictions.

It seems to me, that if you don't salt the water the pasta is just flavorless, no matter what sauce I use and how flavorful the sauce is. And, if you salt the dish afterward (meaning it's already plated and served) it just doesn't seem the same.

Please, someone explain to me salt vs. no salt in the water.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I can't explain it scientifically, but there is some kind of absorption that takes place during the cooking process where the salt enters into the pasta, potato, etc. in such a way that it cannot after cooking. Beyond that, I'll just go with my stock answer for everything beyond my understanding...magic. :)

    1. No salt (for pasta) - you have ample opportunities to salt when you make the pasta, when you make the sauce, when you serve the dish. If you get used to oversalting, you miss it, but not for long. If you salt the water, you can't save it to water plants. The myth persists that salting makes it cook faster- it doesn't unless you're adding it in the cups per quart range, and what's the rush, anyway. However, if you feel it improves the taste, by all means do it- it's your dinner.

      1. I prefer salting pasta water, the water in which vegetables are cooked, and to a lesser degree, rice (for chinese recipes, I dont salt the rice for these) . Its clear that once the food softens, the absorbation of some amount of salt occurs and the flavor is enhanced. However, this doesn not seem to happen until later in the cooking process. So for example veg that are cooked to a crisp texture do not absorb the flavoring as well as those which are cooked a bit longer.

        1 Reply
        1. I have been doing it about since I started watching Food Network. The only "why not" is when I forget. I think the pasta tastes better but Ive never done a comparison.
          However, I tried salting my food in fistfills the way Anne Burrell does, to see if perhaps I was misjudging, but, no, everything I've salted to that degree has been enedible.

          1. Salt the water, it makes the food taste better.