Pasta in the pantry, Pasta in the bowl

My comments here are going to be quite similar to my comments on storing dried beans. In this missive I’ll complete the storage and basics of pasta, key to the construction of Fagioli, one of the most healthy and complete soups that can be found.

As spoken prior “These have an incredible shelf life, and with a little care can become the Methuselah of your pantry. Just there, always ready, and just never dying.”

In storing pasta one must guard against the triple threat of oxygen, humidity, and light. We will tackle these with a minimal amount of gear and fuss.

Note if some of these concepts and words seem the same to you, well they are. The same concepts that apply to beans, will apply to rice, will apply to pasta, will apply to dried fruit, will apply to … <INSERT NAME OF FOOD STUFF HERE>

You get the picture, so understand the concepts and be able to skim for the important data and do your own extrapolation(s).

Portioning

As the standard serving size of pasta is 2 oz, but due to sizes and shapes the amount of dry can vary wildly.. Do read package instructions:

ShapeNameDry PortionCooked Notes
Long StringThick Spaghetti ~2" Round1 cupHeavy Sauce
Long StringSpaghetti ~2" Round1 cupLight Sauce
Long StringFettuccine ~2" Round1 cupMedium Sauce
Short TubeElbows1/2 Cup~1 cupHeavy / Cheese sauce
Short TubeRigatoni3/4 Cup~ 1 cupHeavy / Meat sauce
Soup ShapesOrzo1/3 Cup4/5 cupCook in Soup
Soup ShapesPastina1/3 Cup~1 CupCook In Soup
ShellsShells3/4 Cup~1 1/4 CupVery Heavy Sauces
ShortFarfalle3/4 Cup~1 1/4 CupMedium Sauce

Based on my family eating habits I’ll estimate that 4 oz of pasta, is about right for a single cook.

When one is shopping, one can grab an extra box of pasta , (do check the date), and portion / pack them out and secure in the pantry

But wait, why can’t I just toss the box on a shelf and be done? You can, and the shelf life will drop dramatically, 6 months vs up to 5 years. That is if vermin and insects do not feast on your larder before you do. Pasta WILL attract insects / weevils / vermin. DO STORE PROPERLY.

Storage

To deal with our triple threats I’ll use my vacuum sealer to seal my standard cook portion, of pasta in a bag, and I’ll thrown in an oxygen absorber as well as a desiccant packet as well. As each portion is rather small I’ll use the smallest of those I can find. (One can find all those things on Amazon).

Bit of a concept here, Standard Cook Portion. This is a amount of a food stuff I would prepare in a single cooking. In this case, with a standard serving of 2 oz of pasta, and a standard meal sitting of 2 plates, my standard cook portion will be 4 oz of pasta. This will apply to all my repacked food items in the pantry, (rice, beans, dried veggies, dried fruits, flour, etc, etc, etc).

And BEFORE YOU ASK, If you have additional place settings over your standard cook portion, either grab another portion or add a different dish to augment the meal menu.

The use of a desiccant and oxygen absorber is a bit over the top for many people, a more moderate method would be to omit those when vacuum sealing the bags. A large drop in shelf life, from 30 years to 10 years, but then again, in no way will I need to have 30 years of food in my pantry.

An even more moderate method would be to just store the pasta in a sealed container, giving an expected life span of 1 to 2 years, but at the end of that the pasta will be rather old and quite difficult to prepare. As a matter of culinary finickiness, I’ll vacuum seal, not for the extra life span, but for the taste and texture of my finished meal.

Once I have my packs done, I’ll label them with content, and date packed, then place them in a light proof container. Having vacuum sealed, (You are using thick, 5mm, bags), the storage space require will reduce by an amazing amount.

Types of Pasta, Cooking Tips

Given the may types shapes and sizes and components of pasta, only a few basic bits of guidance are relevant.

  • For most pastas (not soup pasta) boil one gallon of water
  • Season / Salt Heavy, (the waster should taste of the sea)
  • Start your timing AFTER the pot returns to a boil after inserting the pasta
  • Soup pastas expand wildly
  • Always cook soup pasta in the soup

Notes:

I have not addressed any cooking methods beyond the classic boil, nor have I addressed any seasoning, flavoring or cooking / finishing techniques, those are for specific recipes.

The overall goal of this post is to convey the concepts of portioning to a desired yield, long term storage methods, pasta types and basic uses. This is NOT an all inclusive list, do the basic research on each type of pasta and do experiment

My various recipes for pasta can be found here.

  Filed under: Pantry, Pasta, Preservation

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