Friday, March 5, 2010

Preparing and Storing Pasta

Storing Pasta
Pasta from the LDS Cannery has a shelf life of 30 years. Dry packed pasta has a shelf life of 6 to 8 years. Pasta in its original packaging has a shorter shelf life of 2 to 3 years.

Refrigerate cooked pasta in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days. You may add a little oil (1-2 teaspoons) for each pound of cooked pasta) to help keep it from sticking. Because cooked pasta will continue to absorb flavors and oils from sauces, store cooked pasta separately from sauce.

Getting Started
Use a large enough pot: For each pound of pasta, you will need at least four quarts of water. Add at least two tablespoons of coarse salt after the water comes to a boil.

Preventing Sticking
Enough water and frequent stirring will keep pasta from sticking. Do not add oil to the water – this prevents sauces from clinging to the pasta. Always cook uncovered.

When is it done?
Pasta should be al dente (firm to the bite). If undercooked, it will have a chalky core and floury taste. If overcooked, it will be limp and soggy. When cooking pasta for baking alter, it is especially important that it is al dente as it will continue to cook in the oven. Start tasting the pasta two to three minutes before the end of the cooking time given on the package.

Before draining the pasts, reserve one to two cups of the cooking water; it contains starch from the pasta that can add body to sauces. After draining, shake the colander a few times. Do not rinse (unless you want it to cool)

Reserving, Cooling and Drying
To reserve pasta for a few minutes, drain, and toss with a little olive oil. To cool pasta for salad or manicotti, run under cold water while draining. To dry. Spread pasta on a sheet pan, and pat with paper towel.

The best pasta shapes for freezing are those that are used in baked recipes, such as lasagna, jumbo shells, ziti and manicotti. You’ll have better results if you prepare the recipe and freeze it before baking. To bake, thaw the dish to room temperature and bake as the recipe directs.

If you don’t want to tie up your baking pans in the freezer, line them with plastic wrap before filing. Once food has frozen, lift out, remove plastic wrap, and transfer to resealable freezer bags (label & date); place in freezer. When ready to bake, remove from plastic bag and place in pan to reheat.

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