How can I reuse or recycle water from boiling veg or pasta etc?

It’s World Water Day on Sunday so this week’s Recycle This is water themed.

Following on from Monday’s reuses for bath/shower water and Wednesday’s, hot, clean water, I thought we’d feature cooking water today – the stuff leftover after boiling vegetables or pasta etc.

Like with the freshly boiled water from Wednesday, it seems a waste of power to just power it down the drain when we’re done.

With pasta or potatoes, the water is often starchy and with veg such as broccoli, the water can be “discoloured” from the veg itself – so not really suitable for washing stuff.

So is there anything that can be done with it? I know some people use veg water as the liquid when making stock but what else?

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23 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle water from boiling veg or pasta etc?”


  1. Catherine says:

    I use it in bread-making… Or let it cool down and water the plants with it.

  2. Brenda says:

    Water for plants is a good idea :)

    I also save veggie water for stock in soups, and I have kept it for boiling noodles in – it adds more flavor.

    Another way to save water would be to steam your vegetables instead of boiling.

  3. Nicole says:

    Good way to start making stock.

  4. Rebekah says:

    If I’m cooking veggies as well as pasta, I always cook the veg first to reuse the water and get some of those good nutrients back into the pasta. Then I always drain the water into a bowl to use on a plant on my front porch. Easy to get to it from my kitchen, and with all the good nutrients in the water, it never needs fertilized!
    Once in a while, if that plant has enough water, I just drain my pasta rich over the compost bin (so the hot water doesnt cool off the composting process)- you can also dump coffee, soda, or any other waste liquids in there.

  5. t-cakes says:

    Boiling water generally kills plants when poured on them. I often use water that I’ve just cooked in to pour on weeds between cracks in pavers/sidewalks. It’s non-toxic and (somewhat) uses all that energy you just used to boil the water.

  6. Lizzy says:

    If you want to make use of the energy you put into it, pour it into a hot water bottle. (to reuse it even more, boil other stuff in it without letting it cool down, then you don’t have to use the energy to get it up to temperature, THEN fill a hot water bottle)

    After that, Once it has cooled, water plants.

  7. Tessa says:

    I always cook my veg in a steamer above potatoes or pasta so two things get cooked using the same energy. Veg water from non-starchy cooking is great as a stock in risotto and paella or soups, it usually needs a bit of bolstering up from a stock cube but it does use the goodness from cooking the veg. If we’ve had a roast dinner I always make a stock with the leftover bones, leeks, carrot, celery and the water from the vegetables while its still warm. PS. Always cook with the lid on, it takes less energy in the first place.

  8. Dottie Winn says:

    Water that potatoes were cooked in makes the best bread. Veggie water can be used in soups and sauces to add more flavor. Also can be used on plants or garden beds.

  9. David Booth says:

    Pour veggie water in a cup and drink it in the morning. It is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Or keep a container going in the freezer and keep adding to it until you have enough for stock. At the very least use it to cook your pasta in. My pasta water goes to the pigs or the compost when it is cool.

  10. Sierra Rose says:

    First we steam our vegetables. Then use that water (adding some fresh if need be) to boil water for my bagels. Then I use the same water for cooking fresh pasta when I make it. Then I use that water for tortillas…you can’t believe how “fluffy” and flexible your tortillas are when made with this bagel/pasta water. Then what’s left goes into a soup.

  11. Tashi says:

    I leave the covered pot of hot water on the (turned off) burner and let the heat it contains radiate into my cold Boston apartment. (I also often put the stopper in the drain during showers and leave the water in the tub till it cools before draining–I figure the heat coming off the hot water isn’t much different than the heat coming off radiators.)

    • Lizzy says:

      Your ideas are good, but if you let the air in your flat get steamy from the hot water, it’s going to be harder to heat up, because air with water in it requires more energy to heat up one degree than it would if it was dry. You could put some of the water in a hot water bottle to keep yourself cosy?

  12. Samta Kapur says:

    The ideas are really gooc. However though i can use the water to other uses i feel more bad to waste the hot water. its more about energy. any ideas on wat to do with hot water.

  13. Alice says:

    Make gravy to put on those potatoes, either from scratch, or by just adding gravy granuals to the used veg water.

    Don’t forget to use as little water as you can get away with to cook your veg in the first place – just as I hope everyone knows not to overfill the kettle – and chop veg as small as is practical as then it will cook quicker and use less energy.

  14. Dave says:

    Generally, we dump it into the compost pail and then out to the compost pile when cool. I do the same thing when I rinse out a coffee cup or drinking glass.

  15. Daniel says:

    Starchy pasta water is precious and should be stored and reused. When the pasta is done cooking, some of the starchy water can be added to a sauce to thin it if it is too thick, to enrich and “cream” it, or to degrease a pan and create a sauce where none existed. It’s also great for dilluting pesto and stopping garlic from browning as it fries.

  16. dave says:

    I take my boiling pasta water and pour it over quinoa to hydrate it. You could use it for cous cous too.

  17. Jmarie says:

    Wow, Sierra Rose! You go the extra mile!
    Could you give us your tortilla recipe? I have a pot of pasta water on the stove and am ready ! ! ! Cheers, Jm

  18. G. Harpe says:

    I either save my vegetable water to use for soups or gravies or when I have to much already I use it to water my flowers. This is amazing for them, no need to give them vitamins or anything it’s all natural and everything grows like weeds :) I also use my dishwater to water my plants sometimes as it helps keep the bugs away. I do not know what to use pasta water for I do know rice water is good to stop diarhea.

  19. J. Rod says:

    I tried simply placing in the refrigerator and then add pure maple syrup and it makes a good tasty beveraqe. I bet a lot healthier than sodas.

  20. zserb says:

    Chocolate icing: You will need a pot of hot water (it doesn’t matter if it’s been used to cook vegetable or pasta, or if its a ready soup, the only thing that counts is the temperature), a heat-resistant bowl that fits right *in* your pot, but its bottom doesn’t reach the water (the best option is when the lower half of your bowl is smaller in diameter than your pot, bot the upper half is larger). Oh, and you will need some chocolate, butter and sugar (or other sweetener), and something to mix these three ingredients with when they slowly melt together over the steam. That’s all.
    When you used up all the chocolate icing, you can use the still warm water to rinse the bowl.

    Homemade noodles (for example Spätzle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4tzle) can be enrichened with vegetables and spices, and then you can use the spicy hot water you cooked your vegetable in to cook your pasta too, and *then* you can add some of this spicy, vegetable-y water to the souce for the pasta.

    There are recipes where the pasta should be cooked within the sauce, so there’s no need to boil any water separately.

    A simple soup can be made of 1-2 litres of pasta water, leek, salt, pepper, oil and sour cream.

  21. Kunjabihari says:

    Dear All,

    I have a query here, how the starch water from rice can be re utilized?More than 3000ltr starch water is going to drainage daily so please let me know is there any other options to re utilize the same.



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