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Pasta Cooking Gadget


Kim Shook
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I saw an ad on tv for this thing:

Pasta Cooker

Ya think it really works?? If so, I think it would be a pretty great product. If all I had to do was add boiling water from a tea kettle, I would probably make pasta more often. Apparently the lid functions as a drain - so no big ass pot or colander to wash. The website says that it will be available soon - but I saw an ad for one available now. Has anyone tried this thing??

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I've seen the ads and it is surely miraculous if it works! My understanding of cooking pasta is that lots and lots of water are essential. It defies logic. In the ad on our TV it cooks shrimp, veggies, pasta - you name it. I would love for it to be true but my b.s. detector is twingeing. :raz:

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I hard cook eggs for 16 minutes in boiling water taken off the heat. (ala Shirley Corriher)

Since pasta, shrimp etc take less time to cook than eggs, I don't know why a well insulated and accurately shaped and sized vessel wouldn't be able to transfer enough heat to cook them?

SB (every cooking method was new once upon a time) :wink:

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My first thought was that the significant amounts of water both prevent the pasta from cooling it below the boil and allow for the dissolution of the starches. So this device would turn your spaghetti into sticky strands.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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i noticed on the tv commercial that as soon as the pasta starts to swell a little, it raises up above the water level....so you'd have crispy little ends, at best. yuck.

"Laughter is brightest where food is best."

www.chezcherie.com

Author of The I Love Trader Joe's Cookbook ,The I Love Trader Joe's Party Cookbook and The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook

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I received a flyer in the mail with this and a couple of other things, a bottle cap remover and wall-mount dispensers for beans, rice and similar stuff, as well as the zero gravity spice containers.

No prices were listed, only that they were available at Target and online at Amazon and Cooking.com.

Frankly, I didn't give it much thought, I am in the "lots of water" for cooking pasta corner, I hate pasta that sticks together, which usually happens when insufficient water is used.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Hmmm, I notice that there's no price. I am thinking that even if it works, it's a silly device. Why not just use a tall wide mouth thermos or an old coffee pot? It'd keep it hotter, and thus seem to work better, even though you'd lose the col factor of watching the pasta "cook."

And could you trust a company whose "click here for larger picture" image is smaller than the one you can already see?

Edited by kitchenmage (log)
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Neither Targer nor Amazon has this device on the Web yet.

A local TV station has a feature called "Does it Work Wednesday." Every Wednesday, they have a viewer try a product to determine whether it works as promised. I think the station buys the product for the testers. I'll suggest it to them, and report back if they do it. :biggrin: Not spending my money on it!

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I happen to be in the "little water" for cooking pasta camp and I'm still skeptical.

First of all the ad says:

No need to stir or watch the pasta while cooking

What?!? If you put a handful of spaghetti in hot water and walk away, in 8 minutes you're talking one single clump of spaghetti.

(simply pour boiling water into the canister and then put the pasta in)

So, the water isn't even at 212 degrees when the pasta goes in?!? If it's a cold day, that canister is going to drop the temperature a bit initially. If a lot of pasta is used, the temp will drop substantially. I don't know the exact temperature at which proteins set, but if you fall below it, you're talking about warm, slightly dissolved raw pasta.

Even if it does successfully cook the pasta, how hot is the pasta going to be when plated?

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the other thing that i don't get is that pasta isn't that hard to make. . . it's the domain of kids living in dorms and one of the only things my boyfriend can make proficiently, and he <b>really</b> can't cook. i mean, making fresh pasta is hard, but boxed pasta is really not that bad. why don't we invent something to turn doorknobs for us while we're at it.

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This obviously calls for a test. I'm not sure what containers...oh wait, I may just have the right one. I'll have to look tomorrow, give this a shot and report back. :hmmm::shock::blink::wacko:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Well, it's been a bit longer than "tomorrow" but here's the results of the experiment.

I used a heavy glass jar with a tightly sealing top and broke spaghetti into lengths that fit with a couple of inches to spare.

I poured boiling water into the jar and closed the top, leading to my first question: If this is supposed to make pasta cooking easier, why did I just boil water in a teakettle?

After 12 minutes, the water was at 190F and the pasta was starting to bend just a bit.

At 20 minutes, the water was 160F and the pasta was as cooked as it ever got. Although it appeared to be largely one solid clump, the individual noodles came apart without sticking much. (Hmmm, what does this say about stickiness and moving water? Does the sticky, starchy stuff sink to the bottom of the jar? It didn't seem that way when I washed the jar.) The pasta seemed a lot cooler than 160 degrees (I stuck a noodle in my mouth straight out of the water, it was nominally warm)

I wouldn't do this as a regular method of cooking pasta, but in a pinch (power outage and minimal equipment, camping, after the apocalypse) it just might work. As long as the sauce was hot. Really hot.

And now I must go get a life. :shock::blink::rolleyes:

(edited to fix linebreaks)

Edited by kitchenmage (log)
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Yeah . . . I have wondered about this one as well. Best I can tell from the ad, the cylinder may be polycarbonate plastic that won't lose heat as fast as glass, but still, fast enough. Oh! I forgot! It has this great insulating lid. :blink: Yeah, right. That is what small percentage of the surface area for heat loss? Now . . . if the cylinder were a glass thermos type design, it might work ok. But, I do wonder about that "lots of water" thing. I actually don't know about that. I have never cooked pasta in anything but lots of water. At least the one that is in the original link looks cooler than the cheesy thing I saw on TV.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I've also been wondering about this device. I wasn't interested at first, until I saw an ad for it in the Gourmet Retailer magazine I got from the Fancy Food Show. A company name Zevro actually has a version of this pasta cooker.

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Yeah . . . I have wondered about this one as well. Best I can tell from the ad, the cylinder may be polycarbonate plastic that won't lose heat as fast as glass, but still, fast enough. Oh! I forgot! It has this great insulating lid.  :blink: Yeah, right. That is what small percentage of the surface area for heat loss? Now . . . if the cylinder were a glass thermos type design, it might work ok. But, I do wonder about that "lots of water" thing. I actually don't know about that. I have never cooked pasta in anything but lots of water. At least the one that is in the original link looks cooler than the cheesy thing I saw on TV.

Does anyone out there have a thermos large enough to accommodate some pasta and try the experiment?

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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Yeah . . . I have wondered about this one as well. Best I can tell from the ad, the cylinder may be polycarbonate plastic that won't lose heat as fast as glass, but still, fast enough. Oh! I forgot! It has this great insulating lid.  :blink: Yeah, right. That is what small percentage of the surface area for heat loss? Now . . . if the cylinder were a glass thermos type design, it might work ok. But, I do wonder about that "lots of water" thing. I actually don't know about that. I have never cooked pasta in anything but lots of water. At least the one that is in the original link looks cooler than the cheesy thing I saw on TV.

Does anyone out there have a thermos large enough to accommodate some pasta and try the experiment?

MelissaH

I have a thermos (stainless steel with glass lining) long enough to take fettucine and the like. I would be happy to conduct an experiment but how long should the pasta take to cook? If I keep opening the flask to view the progress then heat will be lost. Does anyone know how long it should take to cook fettucine in the thermos. The brand I have on hand suggests 7-9 minutes in rapidly boiling water to reach al dente.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I have a thermos (stainless steel with glass lining) long enough to take fettucine and the like.  I would be happy to conduct an experiment but how long should the pasta take to cook?  If I keep opening the flask to view the progress then heat will be lost.  Does anyone know how long it should take to cook fettucine in the thermos.  The brand I have on hand suggests 7-9 minutes in rapidly boiling water to reach al dente.

Ah, yet another drawback to the Magic Pasta Cooker: how do you know when it's done?

I'd start checking no sooner than 9 or 10 minutes. Some energy's going to need to be expended to warm the inside of the thermos as well as the pasta itself, which will cool down the water to below boiling. I'm guessing the bigger problem will not be getting the pasta to soften so much as not winding up with a stuck-together lump of gunk.

This thread reminds me of another bit of add-water-and-sit cooking I heard about a couple of summers ago: Sleeping Bag Rice. This is a recipe for camping: do this just before you're ready to leave your tent and sleeping bag behind for the day. Put the rice in a container with a lid that seals tightly. Add boiling water straight off the campstove. Seal the container immediately, and slide it down into the foot of your sleeping bag. The sleeping bag keeps the heat in, and allows the rice to cook. When you come back after a few hours, you supposedly have hot cooked rice without needing to (a) convince your campstove to maintain a simmer and (b) use all your precious fuel cooking the rice.

We haven't tried the method, but if I planned to do this while I was on the trail, I'd give it a run at home first to see if it works.

MelissaH

MelissaH

Oswego, NY

Chemist, writer, hired gun

Say this five times fast: "A big blue bucket of blue blueberries."

foodblog1 | kitchen reno | foodblog2

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[Ah, yet another drawback to the Magic Pasta Cooker: how do you know when it's done?

I'd start checking no sooner than 9 or 10 minutes. Some energy's going to need to be expended to warm the inside of the thermos as well as the pasta itself, which will cool down the water to below boiling. I'm guessing the bigger problem will not be getting the pasta to soften so much as not winding up with a stuck-together lump of gunk.  ....

MelissaH

After 9 minutes, a very few strands were cooked perfectly al dente. The rest were a long way from al dente and were firmly stuck together. I used only about a 1 inch diameter amount of pasta which I believe is the right amount for a single serving. Conclusion: stick with the ample pot of rapidly boiling water! If anyone has a suggestion to carry this experiment further, let me know but I can't see how it can work.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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Man, I was just having a long discussion about this with my girlfriend.

Her point was it does the same thing as I do on the stove. Hot water on pasta. I was saying that it does'nt have enough water and there needs to be oxygen circulating to help it cook properly.

Then it brought up questions scientifically about what happens when water boils.

I was under the impression that it looses oxygen when it boils and that is why you can't resuse pasta water for a second batch. And that in an open container, big pot, it looses oxygen and gains some back. Then I thought that if this cylinder is letting steam out through what appear to be vents on top then new oxygen can't get in at the same time steam comes out. And when the steam stops rising and the oxygen is able to get in at that point no cooking is being done. The only data I could find to backup my loosing oxygen theory is an episode of Good Eats I vaguley recall and sites for making Tea that all say the same thing.

Does anybody know if this is true? Because this would be another reason should'nt work. I think it would be fine for cooking shrimp and asparagaus though.

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I seem to remember that there is a cooking device that is used in Japan that is essentially the same principal but it is a real "thermos" type device . . . double walled with a vacuum. I am not saying that it would work for pasta, that lots of water thing, but should work in principal.

I am skeptical of anything like this that isn't a true thermos design.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Clearly, the only thing to do at this point, that makes any sense, is to call an international eGullet convention, pool our funds, and buy one of those things, and see if it works.

We can all have a lot of wine while we're waiting, and we might as well eat, too.

Where shall we gather? And will we need a guest speaker? :biggrin:

We can raffle off who gets to/has to take the pasta cooker home, and use the money to buy more wine.

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