Hooke’s Law. Proteins. Chemical Bonds. And what no one tells you about spaghetti.
Uncooked spaghetti (and any form of dried noodles such as those found in parts of Asia) breaks easily. Drop it on the floor and the long sticks will smash into shorter ones. Or bend them with our fingers and the same happens.
Cooked spaghetti on the other hand does not break as readily; in fact it bends and stretches easily, and can be effortlessly wrapped around any shape.
Why is this so? Uncooked spaghetti is brittle while cooked spaghetti is ductile. Both properties are governed by Hooke’s Law (how much something stretches is proportional to the force applied to it — the BBC has a short explanation).
When raw spaghetti is cooked in water, the proteins in it mix with the water, become hydrated, and begin to stick together because new chemical bonds are formed. These new bonds, called cross-links, make the spaghetti very elastic.
Cross-links are also very much behind the practice of noodle pulling in Chinese cuisine, which gives noodles an especially fresh and springy taste. The science though is just part of the equation. What no one might have told you is that getting the right balance of cross-links is another. In fact, it is an art that even master chefs may struggle with!
How do you keep dry spaghetti from breaking into shorter strands? And have you ever tried breaking a strand of cooked spaghetti? Share your experiences!
Like this? Cross-link with me by liking me to discover more. All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!