How Much is Inside Spaghetti?

Spaghetti. Like hamburger meat and steamed broccoli, it is a cornerstone of the American dinner. It is cheap, filling and nutritious. Sure, most of us enjoy dry spaghetti, straight from the box. But as an Italian-American friend of mine recently revealed, it is also delicious when cooked. 

The first step in cooking spaghetti, like most 22 cent meals, is boiling a pot of water. The hot water isn't just used to heat up the spaghetti noodles, it is drawn into the noodles themselves, giving spaghetti an authentic watery flavor.

I know what some of you are thinking: "Rob, what about the hidden cost of all that hot water? And what about those empty calories that get sucked in during the cooking? Won't spaghetti dinners lay waste to my attractive figure? Isn't this experiment a lot like How Much is Inside Ramen?" Ah! Those are very good questions, but one haunted me above all others: How much water gets sucked inside a pound of spaghetti?

On Wednesday night, we decided to find out. 

I had a one pound box stashed away that I had purchased for 65 cents at Food4Less. The store was in Manteca, so technically this spaghetti was imported.

The first step was to count the pieces of spaghetti. Brian, Michelle, Stacy and I each grabbed a handful and started counting noodles. 

There were 448 pieces of spaghetti in a pound, about 125 yards of noodle.

The dry noodles were 1/28th of an ounce, or almost exactly one gram each. 

The next step was to boil a very precise quantity of water. Michelle measured out exactly five quarts of water into our test vessel, covered the pot with a lid, and set the pot to boil.

The action ground to a halt while we waited for the water to boil. 

When the water began to boil vigorously, I dropped in the noodles. It is very important to let the noodles fall into the water separately, and to stir them often so that they do not fuse together into a spaghetti boulder. 

Update: Spaghetti boulders have been renamed "spaghetti king", from their similarity to a Rat King (Thanks Cardhouse).

I discovered a flaw in the design of our spaghetti pot. The opening is too small. 

After some quick thinking, the spaghetti was in, and the experiment was underway. 

Please continue reading part two of how much is inside spaghetti

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July 17,  2006.

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