Tips for Using Salt
by Buck Reed
Properly seasoning your dish can be the difference between a memorable meal and one you will never forget! I know from experience, that if you serve one mistake from the kitchen, they will never let you forget. Learning to use salt properly is a good start to adding flavor to your table.
Unseasoned salt has an endless shelf life. Seasoned salts should be kept tightly capped and used within one year. Humidity and moisture will cause salt to clump and stick together. Adding 10-12 grains of raw rice to the shaker will absorb the moisture and keep the salt flowing freely.
For soups and sauces that have a long simmering time, go easy on the salt in the beginning, keeping in mind that the liquid will reduce and intensify the salt flavor. Over-salted soups or sauces can be fixed by: adding unsalted liquid to dilute it; tossing in a peeled, quartered potato for 15 minutes (discard the potato); can often be helped with the addition of a little cream, brown sugar, or vinegar; adding a bit of unsalted, cooked white rice, pureed with water or broth to a thin paste can also help cure oversalted soups or stews.
Salt pulls liquid out of vegetables, which is good for cucumbers and eggplant in some dishes. If you plan on adding salt to boiling water for pasta or vegetables, wait until the water boils before adding it. Salted water can corrode the inside surface of a pot. The addition of salt to vegetables and pasta results in a firmer texture.
Vegetables naturally high in sodium include beets, kale, chard, celery, spinach, dandelion greens, carrots, endive, corn, and artichokes.
Salt helps develop gluten, which gives the bread structure. Usually, the small amount used in bread, as compared with serving size, is not worth omitting the salt.
A salted hot/warm dish will not taste as salty when cold because chilling dims salty flavors.
Seafood is high in sodium, so use salt sparingly. Also, adding salt will toughen shellfish. When to salt meat before cooking causes more then a bit of debate. Some chefs salt their meats up to 24 hours before cooking, and others will not salt until just before cooking. Substitute one tablespoon coarse or Kosher salt for two teaspoons table salt.
There are several types of salts available to the home cook and each has its uses: Iodized salt (a.k.a. table salt because it is often kept and used at the dining table). This is salt that is mined from the earth and then refined and mixed with iodine; Sea salt is salt from the sea. When seawater dries up in tidal pools, it leaves salty residue, which is collected and used as table salt; Kosher salt has a coarser texture and has no iodine content or any other additives; Pickling salt doesn’t have any additives to keep it from clumping, so it’s easier to dissolve, even though it’s coarse. This type of salt is used for preserving and canning; Himalayan pink salt is a course, pink colored salt, mined in Pakistan. This is one of the purest forms of salt and is usually used as a garnish or finishing salt in fine dining; Smoked salt is made by smoking salt over applewood or hickory wood under the salt, so the salt soaks up all of the flavors. This is great for a smoky flavor for food on the barbeque; Fleur De Sel translates from French as “flower of salt.” This is a very rare type of salt that is harvested in Britain. It has a delicate salt flavor and is used in fine dining to finish dishes.