Why Does Gluten Free Pasta Suk At High Altitudes? - An American in Italy Blog at Allrecipes.com - 332228

An American in Italy

Why Does Gluten Free Pasta Suk at High Altitudes? 
Aug. 29, 2014 4:11 am 
Updated: Sep. 2, 2014 3:16 pm
GF spaghetti is disgusting at high altitudes.  It's true.  Barilla has made a GF pasta that is to die for.  Finally a decent pasta for this ever growing GF population.  I even make it for my non GF family and everyone seems to like it. They even have to ask if their pasta is GF or not now.

In Belgium I can't find Barilla GF pastas so I went out and purchased kilos, literally kilos, of the stuff to take back to Liege with me.  That is how good it is.

The other day, we stopped at our mountain house that is 7000ft above sea level and thought I'd make some pasta for hubby and me.  Since we started going to the mountains I'd eaten some pasta and it was ok.  Then I found I am celiac so I stopped eating pasta altogether while in the mountains just to not have to cook with 8 different pots and risk contaminating myself.  Polenta seemed to rule as in the mountains it just seemed right anyway.

This time I had enough spaghetti for two people but not tortiglioni.  So, spaghetti it is.  I usually taste foods at their usual time as written on the box, knowing that it won't be ready.  So like usual, I tasted my GF spaghetti at the directed time (9 minutes) and it was, as usual, not done.  I waited 2 minutes exactly.  Taste.  Man is that gross.  

It was like soft paste outside (remember the paste we used in elementary school? gritty and slimy all at the same time?) and hard and crunchy on the inside.  I figured it wasn't going to get any better so I drained it.  

I tossed it with my usual tomatoes, basil and a hot pepper or two hoping it would be so tasty that the texture of the pasta would be less evident.

Nope, that nasty spaghetti just seemed like a 3M experiment gone awry.  It littered my mouth.  It stuck to my teeth in each crevice between them.  It clung to every part of my tongue and even the roof of my mouth.  

Hubby finished all of his because he is a good boy and ex-military and knows that survival is top priority.  I on the other hand, more spoiled, ate half and then tossed the rest.  I couldn't take it.  It was hard to swallow.

So, you mountain folk.  What is it?  Why does the same ingredient in another form taste and feel good?  It's physics I'm sure.  I use an induction stove and the water actually boils quite fast. Regular Barilla spaghetti and their whole grain spaghetti (both non GF though) taste good at that altitude and have a normal texture.  At sea level Barilla GF spaghetti is delicious.  As I wrote before, my kids can't even tell the difference.  

And it's not just Barilla.  I used 100% corn spaghetti once and it stuck together and turned out like mush outside and iron inside.  It was like eating a broom.  I only tasted that.  I swore I'd never buy that brand again, but at sea level it is ok.  

I'm in no way paid by Barilla because if I were they'd be hearing from me that I'm not too in line with Guido's decision that in order to sell crackers I need to see the bare chest of a woman.  Why when Antonio Banderas tries to sell me cookies do I not get to see his bare chest?  I won't get into how Italian men and media treat women...

Anyway,  I know Lela and Kathy live at high altitudes.  Have any of you found the same problem?  Am I not following a procedure correctly?  

If any of you are going to the mountains and eat GF spaghetti let me know how it turns out. Maybe it's just me.

Thanks for listening.  Best to all,


Aug. 29, 2014 4:27 am
Good morning Melanie, I have never cooked in the mountains, but catelli(SP) makes a gluten free pasta that i find very good... Good luck with your quest:)
Aug. 29, 2014 4:46 am
Hi I also have used the Catelli (SP too) GF pasta. I have tried several of their different types always mixing them together. LOL family just loves it.
Aug. 29, 2014 5:59 am
Thanks Manella and Nadine, I will see if I can find it here or in Liege. Thanks a bunch.
Aug. 29, 2014 6:05 am
Me again, Catelli is Canadian and seems available only in N. America. I'll see if I can't get a hold of some anyway.
Aug. 29, 2014 6:17 am
That is so interesting. We use to live at 6,000 ft. and never noticed a problem with pasta. Do you think it could have something to do with a mineral in the water rather than the high altitude? I look forward to Lela and Kathy's experience.
Aug. 29, 2014 7:25 am
Could be the water Marie. It just seems odd that it is only spaghetti. I hope Kathy and/or Lela can help out too. Thanks for stopping by! :-)
Aug. 29, 2014 1:30 pm
Hi Buckwheat! I live at high altitude, but lower around 5000 feet. I haven't tried GF pasta. So, I can't say how to help you. I wish I could be more help. Maybe this blog will help--http://www.momskitchenhandbook.com/hot-tips/hot-tip-the-sticky-business-of-gluten-free-pasta/
Aug. 29, 2014 1:31 pm
Also, Buckwheat Queen-you might try using bottled water or filtered water to see if that makes a difference.
Aug. 29, 2014 1:34 pm
That's very interesting. Maybe it was just a bad batch? I guess it could happen. Best of luck to you, I've never cooked at high altitudes.
Aug. 31, 2014 11:44 pm
I'm guessing it has to do with air pressure - seriously! I have a story similar to yours - from when I was first learning to cook, we went on a skiing vacation, and I cooked dinner. The pasta (normal) came out a gluey sticky mess. I learned that 1) water boils at a lower temp at higher altitudes (lower air pressure) so 2) when cooking pasta, the water needs be kept at a really roiling boil. I'm guessing that you'd want to try doubling the pot and water, and boiling it like you were trying to create a sauna in the kitchen. Or stick to polenta ;-)
Sep. 1, 2014 10:34 am
Great ideas from Marie C. and Lela, Melanie. I too, have not tried GR pasta, and I find the al dente cooking times for Barilla pastas spot on. The only high altitude issues I've had with pasta is the pot of water taking so darn long to boil. I learned that covering the pot with a lid expedites the boiling. I also like Barilla pastas and the pastas I buy at World Market, impoted from Italy. Oh, I'm of Italian heritage but when vacationing in Italy, I was truly surprised by the exploitation of women in the television commercials. Wow! My father was very respectful of my mother and his daughters, so this came as a big surprise to me. Take care, Melanie. Hoping to get back to Europe next year. My husband is a fabulous tour guide!
Sep. 1, 2014 5:39 pm
Hi. I live in Denver & we spend time in the mountains so have good experience with GF pasta. I have seen Barilla in the stores but haven't had the need to try it. (Maybe I'm missing something.) I do use Tinkyada rice pastas and when cooked with their energy saving instructions that has worked just fine. Their energy saving instructions are. Cook in boiling water 1 - 2 minutes with occasional stirring. Turn off heat, cover and let set 16 to 19 minutes (depending on which pasta) with occasional stirring. This has worked for me at altitude with a 2 minute cook and maybe an extra minute or two steep. You have to check for doneness but have some leeway. You might try this method with the Barilla. And I might try Barilla pasta, too.
Sep. 2, 2014 3:16 pm
My first thought is that the pasta cooks thru slower due to the lower boiling temperature of the water and the outer sides become water logged before the center is cooked, goey. May a suggest an pressure cooker with adjustable pressure setting. BRK Pressure cooker or something like it.
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Buckwheat Queen

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About Me
American living between Italy and Liege, Belgium. I'm married to an Italian, a mom to three Italian/American girls all teenagers or about to be. Celiac sufferer and allergic to ALL seafood. Bummer! Especially in Italy.
My favorite things to cook
Savoury and sweet whatevers.
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Breakfast, lunch and dinner. :-)
My cooking triumphs
Every day. If I can get my kids to eat it, it's a triumph!
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I can't seem to make a decent Gluten Free pizza crust. Grump, grump.
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