When Is Adding Salt in Cooking OK?
Shout out to Judy Uberti who inspired this post when she commented on Facebook to my Naturally Sweetened Homemade Applesauce Recipe.
Yes, Americans eat too much salt. If you want a refresh on how much salt you should eat a day, read my post, How Much Sodium Should We Eat? Remember, it’s about balance, and our bodies need sodium. What for and how much? Read Can You Drink Too Much Water?
Neither end of the spectrum is good – too much or too little salt. And the kind of salt you ingest makes a difference.
Adding salt in cooking is typically ok if you:
- Have no medical problems that require you to eliminate salt from your diet
- Eat a balanced diet of lean protein, good fats, fruits, veggies, and whole grains
- Eliminate high processed foods, like lunchmeat, canned foods, snack foods and pre-packaged foods
- Use high quality mineral salts like sea salts instead of low quality table salt
Add salt during the cooking process, not on top of cooked food.
Why? Adding salt in cooking allows it to break down and do its job of bringing out the flavors of food. If you add salt on top of cooked food you will just taste salt. Not the purpose.
How much should you add?
Follow a recipe as a guideline and adjust to your taste. If you want to add more, I recommend just a pinch. I don’t recommend adjusting salt in a baking recipe. If you do, you can throw off the entire recipe. Yes, I’ve done this.
What Does Adding Salt in Cooking Do?
What many people don’t realize? Salt is a flavor enhancer. It allows the flavors in your dish to pop.
When your food tastes bland, you typically need a pinch of salt. If your food tastes like salt, you added too much.
The goal? To bring out the natural flavors of the food as much as possible, especially to make healthy food taste great. We don’t rely on bad fats and sugar for that. Woo-hoo! (Yes, we ARE cooking superheros.)
That’s why you add a pinch of salt even to chocolate. You won’t taste it, but adding salt will enable the sweet flavors of your dish to shine. Plus, salt plays a role in leavening and other chemical processes like fermentation and preserving.
Salt has many jobs. Don’t underestimate it. Balance it. If you eat a balanced diet and use it in the right way, your food will have more flavor than foods that rely on lots of fat and sugar to taste good and your health will stay in check!