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Salt to taste or salt to measure?

Hi there. Ready for another cooking lesson?

How do you salt your food during the cooking process? Do you follow a recipe’s amount of salt exactly or do you follow your own taste preferences?

I thought I would share with you one of the biggest questions in the culinary world.  As you probably know, salt sometimes gets a bad rap.  It’s the only rock we as humans must have in our diets, but too much can kill us.  In the chef/recipe world, how to salt is as hot a topic as how much to salt.  Ever wonder why restaurant food often tastes better than home-made? Chefs salt the food ~ but only until it tastes just right.

What kinds of salt to use?  is one of the most asked questions in cooking classes.  For me, it’s always kosher or sea salt.

Salt to taste or salt to measure?

Should you measure salt?  In baking, absolutely.

Should you season “to taste”?  I do and I show students how to do it correctly.  In cooking ~ sautéing, roasting, stir-fry, grilling ~ do what the professionals do, and taste, season, stir, and taste again.  Only use a pinch at a time. A pinch is what fits between your index finger and thumb; keep doing that until your dish tastes to your liking.  Awhile back I read an article in The Washington Post that examined the subject.

One piece of advice I would pass on:  give up on the processed food, the bottled salad dressings (haven’t bought one is years), canned soups ( to test a casserole recipe recently I bought a can of Camp______ Cream of Chicken soup for the first time in twenty years – I couldn’t believe how much sodium it contained), the jarred sauces, rinse your canned beans, roast your own chicken or turkey rather than buying deli meats.  Just these few things can significantly reduce your processed salt intake.

Here is my experiment. Just for fun, I compared a pinch to  1/8, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 teaspoon.  Wow!  A teaspoon is a lot of salt.  I think I’ll stick with my pinches.

Salt to taste or salt to measure?

Let your taste buds be your guide.  Don’t salt without tasting first, both in the kitchen and at the dinner table.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks Carol, we have so dramatically reduced our salt intake at home that we have a hard time dining out in restaurants anymore. Their food is so salty…especially a certain Australian themed steakhouse…oh my, almost inedible to us. To that end, I, like you, make and can all my own stocks and soups and don’t buy any processed food to speak of.

    Great lesson for us all, LYnn

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