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Backpacker-Friendly Noodles

Noodles are easy-prep crowd pleasers. Learn about the trail-worthiest types and cooking methods.
Use LessCooking TechniquesBest-bet noodleTip
WaterRather than following package directions, add only enough water to fully cover your noodles. Heat to a rolling boil (stirring and adding a spoonful of water at a time, if necessary, to prevent burning and sticking). Check to see if the pasta is done at the package-recommended cooking time, and continue to cook (stirring frequently) until al dente.Small, nesting shapes require less water for full immersion; try orzo, macaroni, rotini, or bowties in lieu of spaghetti strands.Don’t discard the precious cooking liquid; use the starchy leftover water as the base for powdered sauce mixes or for cooking oatmeal.
FuelAdd noodles to a pot of cool water (you’ll be boiling it, so you can use treated or untreated water); the liquid should cover the noodles. Stir occasionally as you bring the water to a boil. When the water is rolling, remove the pot from heat, put a lid on it, and soak noodles for 20 to 25 minutes until al dente. Cold day? Wrap the pot in insulating extra clothing while noodles soak.Use standard or thin spaghetti; thicker noodles (like rigatoni or penne) take longer to cook, and will stick together if not stirred.Resist the urge to check cooking progress until noodles have soaked for 20 minutes; lifting the lid allows heat to escape.
Water and fuelThree hours before your meal: Add water to a densely packed zip-top bag of noodles (enough to coat them, ²/³ to 1 cup for a 1-quart bag). Let them soak while you hike. At mealtime: Add a few tablespoons of water (to cover a pan’s base) and heat while stirring; noodles should cook to completion in 60 seconds.Soaking diminishes wheat noodles’ nutty flavor; use rice noodles or flavored wheat varieties.Avoid spills; double-bag your soaking pasta or seal it in a watertight bottle instead.


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