activity

Lots of recipes tell you to cook noodles in salty water. Does it really make a difference? Use your noodle to find out the answer in this experiment.

safety
  • Uses the stovetop
difficulty
  • Intermediate
time
  • 45 minutes

Prepare Ingredients

2 quarts plus 2 quarts
water, measured separately
8 ounces plus 8 ounces
pasta, measured separately
1½ teaspoons
salt
Pasta sauce

Gather Equipment

Masking tape
Marker
2
large saucepans
2
serving bowls
Colander
Wooden spoon
1
plate per taster
1
fork per taster
1
 

Make a prediction: Do you think pasta cooked in salty water will taste the same as pasta cooked in plain water, or do you think it will taste different? Why?

 
2
 

Make 2 masking tape labels. Use marker to write “No Salt” on 1 label and “Salt” on second label. Stick 1 label on each large saucepan.

 
3
 

Make 2 more masking tape labels. Use marker to write “No Salt” on 1 label and “Salt” on second label. Stick 1 label on each serving bowl. Set serving bowls aside.

 
4
 
2 quarts plus 2 quarts
water, measured separately

Set colander in sink. Add 2 quarts water to each large saucepan. Bring water to boil over high heat.

 
5
 
8 ounces plus 8 ounces
pasta, measured separately
1½ teaspoons
salt

Carefully add 8 ounces pasta to each saucepan of boiling water. Add 1½ teaspoons salt to saucepan labeled “Salt.” Cook, stirring pasta and water in each saucepan often with wooden spoon, until pasta is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Turn off heat.

 
6
 

Ask an adult to drain pasta from saucepan labeled “No Salt” in colander. Transfer drained pasta from colander to serving bowl labeled “No Salt.”

 
7
 

Ask an adult to drain pasta from saucepan labeled “Salt” in colander. Transfer drained pasta from colander to serving bowl labeled “Salt.”

 
8
 

Observe your results: Invite your family and friends to join you for a taste test—don’t tell them the difference between the 2 batches of pasta until after step 9. (Turn the serving bowls so tasters can’t see the labels!) Give each taster a plate and a fork. Have tasters eat a few pieces of pasta from each batch. (Ask tasters to keep their thoughts to themselves until the end of step 9.)

 
9
 
Pasta sauce (homemade or store-bought)

Add half of sauce to each serving bowl of pasta and use wooden spoon to stir to combine. Have tasters eat a few pieces of sauced pasta from each batch. Ask tasters:

  • Did the two batches of plain pasta taste the same or different? How so?
  • What about the sauced pastas—did they taste the same or different? How so?
 
10
 

Eat your experiment: Tell tasters what the difference was between the two batches. Serve remaining sauced pasta for lunch or dinner, combining the two batches, if desired.