Can Leftover Pasta Water Be Saved For Later?

Pasta is a staple in most American households. According to Statista, in 2020, an estimated 269.62 million people in the United States ate spaghetti and pasta sauce. The data site revealed this number is only expected to grow during the next couple of years. What's not to love about a homemade bowl of bucatini cacio e pepe or a classic homemade basil pesto pasta that uses herbs from your garden? U.S. News reports pasta is rich in carbohydrates, making it the perfect dish to charge your energy before a workout; it's easy on the pocketbook, and it can add a little protein to your diet in the process.

Pasta is also easy to make. Just boil some salted water and add the pasta shape of your choice until it is nice and al dente. It doesn't get much easier than that. However, did you know the water you boil your pasta in shouldn't end up in your kitchen sink when you drain your noodles? It might surprise you to learn that your pasta water can be saved for later use. If you do a quick Google, you will find several food writers describe this starchy water that is leftover as "liquid gold" (per HuffPost), and for a good reason.

Pasta water belongs in your cooking repertoire

According to Uno Casa, when it comes to waste not, want not, pasta water should be on your list of ingredients not to toss. The cooking site goes on to explain that pasta water, largely due to its starchy, salty goodness, is perfect to use to help create your pasta sauce, add flavor to a soup, or even give some depth of taste to pizza or bread dough. That's right, even though that water looks "murky" and rather "dirty," per Bon Appétit, pasta water can add umami to whatever you are making. 

Simply Recipes notes that what makes pasta water truly unique is its ability to be a "binder," specifically when mixed with other fats, including butter or oil,  creating an emulsion. This turns a run-of-the-mill sauce into a creamy, delicious one that more adequately covers your pasta. But can pasta water go bad? Uno Casa goes on to explain that one of the great perks of saving pasta water is it doesn't go bad, noting it's just starch, water, and salt. However, the site does caution you not to save pasta water in the fridge longer than 2-3 days because this environment can be the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.