Because nothing online ever dies, somewhere in the bowels of the Wayback Machine internet archive, you can find a smiling picture taken of me a week after I graduated college, cooking a pot of pasta that is on fire. Not a pot with a flame under it. Not a mistaken flambé experiment. A pot, with pasta still sticking out of the top, that is completely engulfed in flames and is, in fact, on fire.
I was a victim of that scourge of the unwatched pasta pot: the boil-over. We all have them from time to time. They’re messy and annoying, even when they aren’t quite so dramatically inept-boyfriend-in-a-rom-com embarrassing as my pot-on-fire experience.
That’s why I was intrigued when I received a slightly odd-shaped stainless steel pot in the mail from Meyer, a company I hadn’t heard of before. The stockpot, said the pamphlet in the box, would not boil over. It sounds like a ludicrous claim, I know—the kind of thing Anthony Sullivan would scream at you around 10:09 pm on some high-numbered cable channel. But I started using the curvy pot regularly for pasta and soup and it’s mostly true that it cannot boil over.
I tried on more than a dozen occasions to get the pot to overflow, filling it high with water or stock and leaving the heat turned up. As the bubbling got more intense and moved toward the sides of the pot, eventually it just fell inward. I do need to admit that it’s not 100% foolproof: I did get it to boil over one time when I actually walked out of the room for four or five minutes after the boiling began with the flame as high as it could go. (If that’s how you currently operate in the kitchen, you should probably reassess.)
When I asked which features of the pot were really preventing boil-overs, MJ Truong, the global advisor in product innovation, strategy, and design for Meyer Labs (a product team within Meyer) told me, “We had this inkling that shape would affect the rate at which a pot boils over. So we ran a test and found that a straight-sided sauce pan boiled over eight times in 10 minutes, where a curved one only boiled over once.”
In their experiments, the curve in the pot caused excessive foam to grow up, like a mountain, instead of out. Eventually, when it got too heavy, the mound of foam would collapse in on itself, into the center of the pot instead of over the edge. The Meyer stockpot also has a very pronounced flared rim. The purpose of that, Truong said, was not supposed to be related to boil-overs at all. It was supposed to allow for dribble-free pouring from anywhere on the pot. But that rim also seemed to create surface tension that held potential boil-overs at bay for longer. Truong showed a video of the pot in action to a physicist friend, who suggested she write a paper on it.
If all that is more nerdery than you want to indulge in, all you need to know is this: This pot will almost certainly give you more protection from boil-overs than what you’re using now. It won’t stop them completely—nothing can do that. But it will buy you an extra couple minutes to tamp down the heat and get things under control, and, hopefully, avoid any embarrassing pictures of you lighting dried pasta on fire.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious