Pasta: is simmering equivalent to roiling boil


I recently got into a surprisingly heated argument with a friend about what level of boil you should cook your pasta at. He (an engineer) argued that the heat transfer would remain the same regardless of the level of the boil and that anything above a simmer would be a waste of energy. I looked at it less from a heat transfer point of view and argued that a higher boil would increase agitation and cause the noodles to stick less to each other.

So what is it? Is a higher boil actually a waste of (a minuscule amount of) energy?

Best Answer

You should boil noodles. Simmering is not the same as boiling. Boiling water is 212 ℉ (100 ℃). Simmering water is in the range of 185 ℉ to 200 ℉ (85 ℃ to 93 ℃).

Your engineer friend is under the mistaken assumption that simmering is somehow a weaker boil than a rolling boil, but still 212 ℉. It's not.

You are correct in your assumption that the more vigorous rolling boil will agitate pasta and help prevent sticking.