a trick for cooking pasta

When the pot of pasta begins to boil and froth, place a wooden spoon across the top of the kettle to prevent the liquid from boiling over. I do not know why this works (or where I first heard this tip) but it does.

It used to be that once the water boiled, I’d have to lift the kettle off the heat until the burner cooled, but the wooden-spoon trick makes it so I can leave the kettle alone, just turning the heat down when the water boils too fast. The water froths around the spoon, but it doesn’t spill over.

Anybody else use this trick? Am I batty for thinking it works? Anyone have an explanation?

This same time, years previous: the quotidian (4.4.16), red raspberry pie, sun days, working lunches, cup cheese, spinach cheese crepes.


  • Lana

    Way back 40 plus years ago when I was a Girl Scout we put any old stick across the pot when cooking over an open fire. Perhaps is was not sanitary? I do the spoon trick but the stick from the ground seemed to much more fun at the time.

  • Anonymous 6:55 p.m.

    Try Taking a little butter with your finger and rubbing it around the inner top edge of the pot, this works in a similar fashion to a spoon, or adding a few drops of oil.

    The butter acts as a service tension breaker, making the bubbles unable to form, and therefore unable to overflow.

  • Kathy Gardner

    I don't know how it works but it does. I've been doing this for a long time.

    I read that if you put oil in the water, it prevents the pasta sauce from adhering to the pasta. I don't know if it is true or not.

  • farm buddy

    I don't worry about pasta water boiling over too much, but when making maple syrup, sometimes the sap-almost-turned-to-syrup goes wild, and a drop or two of cream calms things down immediately.

  • Second Sister

    Do you ever use a drop or three of oil to the same effect? With the oil it effects the surface tension disallowing as many bubbles to grow and flow over. Perhaps somehow the spoon does this, too?

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