The key to a perfectly balanced dish is not only the combination of its ingredients but also in how well the dish was seasoned. Salt plays the main part in the process, as it not only enhances the taste and aroma of dishes; it helps to balance other flavors as well. Salt reduces the intensity of the taste of bitter foods and draws moisture out of the products, thus extends their shelf life. Salt is even added to desserts to achieve the perfect balance of sweet and sour.
If you end up with an oversalted dish, don’t panic. Luckily, there are some remedies fixing over-salted food: Ways to remove excess salt from food.
Salt has several other properties other than making food salty that need to be considered when cooking:
- promotes the release of juices;
- prevents the transfer of nutrients into the broth, as it makes cell membranes stronger in many foods;
- reduces the solubility of many proteins in water;
- Prevents the softening of gluten and helps products retain their shape.
When and How to Add Salt to Your Foods During Cooking?
The ability to salt food correctly and in moderation comes over the years, and, surely, in the process of cooking and experimenting, you have already found your ideal formula. However, there are clear rules on how to salt food properly, which are simply unacceptable to neglect. As the taste of separate ingredients and the dish as a whole largely depends on when it was salted – at the very beginning, during cooking, or at the end. Here are some ground rules on how and when to salt certain foods or dishes:
- Vegetable and fish broths are salted immediately after boiling.
- To prevent fish from falling apart during the process of frying, salt it 20-30 minutes in advance.
- Add salt to boiling water before adding pasta. Otherwise, the pasta will stick together.
- Peas, beans, and lentils should be salted towards the end of the boil or they will remain firm.
- Wild mushrooms should be boiled in salted water to promote the release of harmful substances from them. If you are cooking cultivated mushrooms in a skillet on the stovetop then add salt at the end of cooking to keep the juices inside and prevent mushrooms from getting dry.
- If you are blanching or boiling vegetables and want to save as many nutrients and vitamins, add salt to boiling water and only then put vegetables.
How to add salt to salads?
There are several peculiarities in adding salt to a salad. You should add salt to salads before pouring the dressing. The dressing covers veggies and salad leaves with a thin layer, which prevents salt from absorbing. As a result, you won’t get a well-balanced combination of flavors. If among the salad ingredients are fresh juicy vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., you can salt them separately, wait until they release juices, and then add to other ingredients of the salad. Or you can combine all the ingredients of the salad and set it aside. Then 5 minutes before serving it you add salt and the dressing. Make sure to make the portion so that you consume the dish at once.
How do you properly salt meat?
If the meat is cooked for the sake of a rich soup or broth, the water should be salted at the very beginning of cooking. This allows the meat fibers to soften and release juice completely into the broth. If the meat is cooked for the sake of meat (for example, beef tongue or a piece of pork), it should be placed in boiling water, and salt should be added towards the end of cooking. If you add salt early, the meat will become firm. When grilling or pan-frying meat, you better add salt at the very end. It is better to salt fried meat only after a golden-brown crust forms. It will not let the meat juice leak out. Otherwise, you will be stuck with dry steak.
How to salt potatoes?
When you are frying potatoes in the skillet, you should add salt at the end of the cooking process. If you add salt too early, potatoes will release juices and the pieces become soft, you won’t have any chance to get them crispy. When boiling them in the pot on the stove, add salt to potatoes immediately after water boils. This way you have salt get inside of the ingredients better. Here is the secret to the perfect mashed potatoes – salt the water, then add the potatoes.
How to add salt to sauces and dips properly?
Sauces and dips are salted at the final stage of cooking, just before removing them from the heat. Especially, make sure to add salt after you have added starch, flour, or cream. This process happens due to the long-chain carbohydrates in flour or starch that bind sodium in salt. Salt can also change the texture of proteins and speed up the thickening process of sauces. Follow the advice and you will get a sauce that is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Moreover, you should always keep in mind that salt could be in many foods that do not even have a pronounced salty taste. Not only sauerkraut, soy sauce, pickled vegetables, soused herring contain salt, but also hard cheese, sausages, olives, smoked meat, and canned food. Therefore, when using them, much less salt is needed. Always taste your dish after adding seasoning as it is much easier to add more salt than to reduce it.
I hope that the article was helpful and found the right information. Please, do not forget to share it with your family and friends! If you still have any questions left, you are free to leave them in the comment section below.