Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Why In The World Would You Dehydrate Cooked Pasta?

Ready to Store

Many people have asked me about dehydrating pasta. Primarily, they want to know why, if it’s already dry, would anyone bother dehydrating cooked pasta. 

Why bother?

Economy

  • Like rice, it doesn’t take any more power to cook a big pot of pasta than it does to cook a small pot of pasta.  Cook a bunch and dehydrate what you don’t use right away.
  • Rehydrating cooked pasta is convenient and makes it ready to eat much faster than cooking the raw pasta. Depending on how thick the pasta is, it can rehydrate in boiling water in just a few minutes.
  • It can be put together with other foods to make packaged one-dish meals. Especially useful in casseroles.
  • It’s ideal for instant soups.
  • It stores longer than uncooked pasta.
Just Like Blanching 

How to Prep Pasta for Dehydrating:
  • You can use any kind of pasta. Anything from thin spaghetti to wide fettuccini –types works just fine.
  • Cook the pasta as usual. Depending on the variety and where you live, it may take from eight to twelve minutes or so for the pasta to cook AFTER the water begins to boil.
  • When it’s tender, or nearly tender, remove it from the boiling water and plunge it into cold water to stop the cooking process.

Spun Dry! 

Before placing in the dehydrator, put it through the salad spinner to remove excess moisture

Spaghetti and Such:

Bird’s Nests

I read that twisting your pasta into little bird’s nests was a convenient way to dehydrate the.  But I found it difficult to mess with that and get them wound the way I wanted them.  Also, I was worried that if it was too thick, not enough air would circulate around it and it might not dry properly.
 
Rat’s Nests

I found that just picking up a gob of pasta and plunking it down worked just fine … and was much faster! 

Just the Right Amount

The easiest way to determine portions is to take the sized bowl you might use for a serving of pasta and plop some in it. Then you can be sure to get consistent portions. 

Watch Out for Stringers 

Pay attention to strings of pasta that stick out. They will dry just like you see them. When you are ready to bag the dried pasta, they will be hard to bag and break.
 
Turn them over 

About half way through the drying time, I flip them over to finish drying. This gives more exposure to air. You can see some soft pasta still in the middle. Continue to dry this until it’s completely hard.

Ready for one-dish meals

  • Dry at 115ยบ at least overnight. Depending on your machine and location with determine how long it takes to dry. See my document on Variables in Dehydrating Times for more information.
  • Be sure to check and stir the pasta on the racks several times.  Short dense pastas will tend to stick together. Be sure to separate little pasta clumps that are stuck together.
  • Spaghetti type pastas are thin enough that they don’t need to be stirred. As they dry, simply turn the portions over to allow for more air circulation.
  • Dried pasta will be hard and crisp. It will look and feel much like the raw versions.
Rehydrating Dehydrated Cooked Pasta
  • Bring a pot of water to the boil.
  • Drop the desired mount of pasta in the boiling water and give it a stir.
  • Depending on the thickness of the pasta, it will usually rehydrate in just a few minutes.
  • Spaghetti rehydrates almost instantly. By the time you give it a stir, it is already limp and ready to use.
  • Remove from the water and serve.

What to do with Dehydrated Pasta:
  • Perfect for soups and stews
  • Excellent for thermos bottle cooking and MRE’s. see my post on MRE Soup:Thermos Bottle Cookery.
  • Serve with your favorite sauce
  • Use in salads and one dish meals

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips on pasta Linda, I've done rice, pasta and beans are next on my list.

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    1. Hi Diane, You will be pleased with the results. Who'd a thunk it?

      These days we need to work harder and be more dilligent on how we use our power. Just received notice that our electric bill will go up by 30% on January 1! Aggghhh!!!!!

      Thank goodnes I cook with gas. But all the way around, it hurts.

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    2. how long will dehydrate cooked pasta last in mylar bags

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  2. I am not certain the place you are getting your info, however good topic.
    I must spend some time studying much more or understanding more.
    Thank you for excellent info I was looking for this information for
    my mission.
    Feel free to visit my site :: mcn.edu

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I tried going to your site, but it's apparently a bad link. Some of my information is personal experience, some comes from other books and information published at various Universitie and State Extension Office Publications.

      Before posting anything, I do try to test the recipes and find out what happens when I dehydrate something. Some things I keep for months or several years before actually posting the data.

      Is there something specific you would like to know more about?

      Delete
    2. This is a classic spammer message. They will often have a very vague message praising the author and then post a link. I would just delete it.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, I wondered about this. I began receiving dozens of this type of message and it took me a while to figure out what was going on. Thought I had deleted them all.

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    4. I've done beans and rice and they're great.. Noodles are my next step..

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  3. Linda do you have any experience about pasta dehydrating using a solar dehydrator?, We live on a very arid area of Mexico plenty of sun and we do a bit of solar cooking

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    1. Hi Anonymous,
      Somehow I missed your post. No, I haven't tried using a solar dehydrator. But I am certain it should work just fine. As long as it's plain boiled pasta, there isn't anything that would spoil before the dehydrating is finished.

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  4. Oh thank you so much! I've been searching the internet for how to dry pasta and find it's quite controversial! It's a no brainier for me. Why not make batches ahead of time.
    Appreciate you!

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    1. Sorry I didn't get back with you sooner. Am recovering from breast cancer surgery. Haven't seem much of my email lately.

      You can be assured that I won't post anything that I haven't tried and am ABSOLUTELY certain that it works. I've found that many sites simply copy each other or copy the dehydrating cookbooks... who copy each other without testing.

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  5. Another question: Once you dehydrate your pasta and put it in plastic bags where do you store it, with dry good goods on shelf, fridge or freezer?

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    1. If I think I'm going to use it fairly soon (within a few months) I simply keep it in a zip freezer bag. If I'm putting together one-dish meals, then I put it, and all the other ingredients in vacuum seal bags.

      Whatever I post will be shelf stable. The whole point is that if you have completely dried it, you should not need to refrigerate or freeze it.

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  6. Thank you! My husband is a long haul truck driver and tries to eat in his truck to save money but canned pastas are NASTY and you can't home can pasta either. Sending him out with his first dehydrated pasta to give it a try!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. (Grin) I am in full agreement with you about canned pastas being NASTY! Why on earth would people buy that mess?

      What a wonderful idea! I suspect that if he shows other truckers what his resourceful wife has done, before long we'll have many more people using this site.

      Thanks so much!

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  7. Love your blog, we camp or RV all the time and this is the handiest way to take food. I don't like cooking in the RV so I do use my dehydrated foods more. I just put them in a bowl, cover with boiling water and wait a few minutes and it is all ready to eat. I also dehydrate left over speg sauce and it comes back great.

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  8. You say it stores longer but I don't have a time frame to work with? Like if my pasta bag says it expires 2018 how much longer is this good for? Why is it good for a longer time?

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    1. Hi Laura,

      One of the things you need to understand about commercially prepared pasta and certain other foods is that sometimes they have insect eggs in it. Don't know why or how, but this is a fact. Years ago, I bought many boxes of marked down pasta that was about to expire and put it in my cabinet. About a month later, my kitchen was infested with weaves! Aggghhh!!

      Although I haven't read anything specific on it, I suspect that the expiration date on some items have to do with the risk of contamination with weevils, etc.

      My experience has been this. Once I cook the pasta, it kills those tiny eggs. I have had cooked, dehydrated pasta in my cabinet for three years with no sign of contamination.

      I don't know how long it will keep, but my primary reason for cooking it and dehydrating is for how quickly it rehydrates, it takes less energy and time to rehydrate than to cook, and it's more convenient.

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  9. I do this all the time with macaroni and rice. However I don't make portions, I just plonk it into a canning jar and take out whatever I need. Hot water and 2 min in the microwave and it's ready to eat!

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    1. Good point about the microwave. I don't have one, so never thought about it. Thanks for the post!

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    2. I meant to add another comment. If you are in an at-home situation, the canning jars are great. Just remember, do not leave them sitting out on the counter. Extended to light can deteriorate the dehydrated food.

      Also, you need to think in terms of evacuation emergency situations. Seriously consider bagging at least part of what you dehydrated either in zip bags or vacuum pack bags.

      Look over the following posts...
      http://dehydratingwaybeyondjerky.blogspot.com/2012/11/canning-jars-are-not-essential-to.html

      This is really important explains better what I'm trying to say....
      http://dehydratingwaybeyondjerky.blogspot.com/2012/05/this-is-really-important.html#more

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  10. 1. Spend energy to boil water to cook large batch of pasta
    2. Spend energy to remove some of the water you just put in the pasta by dehydrating it.
    3. Spend energy to boil a pot of water again to rehydrate your dehydrated pasta.
    4. Save energy.

    I think the energy saving argument behind this method is really badly constructed...

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    1. Actually, Anonymous, There is a savings. Yes, you do spend energy to cook the pot of pasta. Once your water is boiling, it still takes 12 minutes of energy or more to cook the pasta (depending on what type of pasta and whether or not you are at sea level or high in the mountains, as I am).

      It doesn't take any more energy to cook pasta for a dozen than it does to cook for two. So the savings comes with the reheating and rehydrating. Only takes a few minutes once you get the water hot.

      Think in terms of the energy required to cook ten separate meals of pasta vs the energy required to cook all ten at one time.

      The big savings is this. Many people (me include) end up wasting and throwing away leftover pasta when we end up cooking too much.

      As for the energy to dehydrate the pasta, dehydrators literally cost pennies to use, so that cost is nominal.

      Additionally, Many people who read this blog look to put food away for emergency use as in MRE's or camping food. Frankly, I am here to tell you, cooking pasta on the trail when you are in the mountains is just about impossible, so this affords an excellent way to provide your own at very little cost.

      In an emergency situation, you may not have electricity or very little available fuel for cooking at all. Plus lack of refrigeration can be an issue.

      That being said, if you feel dehydrating cooked pasta is not economical in your situation, feel free to do whatever you like. Best wishes,

      Linda

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  11. HI, thank you Linda for the post. I apologise if this has been asked before, but can you use this same method for other pastas (as in not spaghetti) My pasta of choice has always been the shells or spirals. Would they be too thick for this method or ok. Cheers, Jonathon. (tas.AU)

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    1. Hi Jonnytas,

      The procedure is the same for shells or spirals. When you dehydrate them, not sure how long it will take. Take a piece every now and then and test it. Should be very hard and dry. My noodles snap when broken, but now sure if you can easily break thicker pasta.

      Good luck and keep me posted!

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  12. Hello Linda,
    How much water do you need to add to the dehydrated pasta? Is it a 1:1 ratio? I am planning to dehydrate pasta so I can take it on an expedition trip, while I am gone I have access to limited amounts of boiling water (and time to cook).

    Thanks,
    Dan

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    1. Thanks so much for writing Dan,
      An expedition sounds exciting! Hope I got this info to you in time.


      You didn't mention whether your expedition is around sea level or at higher altitudes. Remember, water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes.

      sea level - 212 degrees
      984 feet - 210 degrees
      2000 feet -208 degrees
      7500 feet - 198 degrees (I live at 7,000 feet)

      So as you can see, if you're high in the mountains, it may take longer to get that pasta ready to eat.

      Generally, I use just enough boiling water to cover the pasta, maybe by an inch or so. At really high altitudes, you may need more water and more rehydrating time.

      Keeping your pot covered will retain heat and prevent evaporation.

      Hope you have loads of fun. Keep me posted!

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