Salt is the perfect partner for almost any dish. It enhances the flavor of food by bringing out its natural sweetness. The sodium in salt also helps our taste buds respond to food more strongly, so we can enjoy it more. That’s why chefs keep an abundant supply of salt in their pantries. They use it to subtly enhance the flavors of many different foods not only because it makes anything that needs enhancement taste better, but because a little bit goes a long way toward making a meal memorable and satisfying. In this article, you will learn about the effect of salt on taste, what types of salt are available, how much salt is recommended daily and suggestions on how to use salt wisely in your everyday cooking. Keep reading to discover everything you need to know about adding just the right amount of salt to your food.
Why Does Salt Make Food Taste Better
1. Enhances the taste of food
Salt enhances the natural flavor of almost all foods. The sodium in salt brings out the sweetness in a dish and gives it a more intense taste. That’s why chefs have always kept an abundant supply of salt on hand since it enhances the flavor of many different foods. It also helps our taste buds respond to food more strongly, so we can enjoy it more. A little bit goes a long way toward making a meal memorable and satisfying.
2. Makes food more flavorful
When you add salt to your dish, you are adding moisture which makes the dish taste better because its flavors are enhanced by its natural sweetness. Salt is also an essential component in creating new flavors by making them stand out in a dish or enhancing them with other spices or herbs that are already present in food.
3. Increases savory flavors
Salt is also used to enhance savory tastes in dishes such as eggs, meats, and vegetables. For example, when you season eggs with salt, they become slightly more savory than when they were unsalted and people tend to like that! Salt also helps break down proteins found in meats like steak and pork chops so they become easier to chew and digest because there is less gristle present after being seasoned with salt. The savory qualities of salt may be why people tend to enjoy salty foods much more than sweet ones. Other research has shown that people who like salty foods will eat about 10% more of them than people who don’t like salty foods (2).
4. Enhances the natural flavors of herbs and spices
Salt enhances the flavors of most herbs and spices. The taste of salt is often described as a “saltiness” or “salty” flavor, which is why it is often used to enhance the flavors of herbs and spices. Salt also brings out the sweetness in many dishes because it helps break down proteins found in herbs and spices so they are easier to chew. Salt enhances the flavor of salt by increasing its savory qualities.
5. Enhances the flavor of whole foods such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, and grains
Salt also brings out the natural flavors of whole foods such as meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, and grains that haven’t been seasoned with other ingredients yet which makes them taste even better! For example, when you season fish with salt before cooking it will bring out its natural sweetness. To enhance the taste of grains before cooking them such as wheat berries or rice you can add a little bit of salt to your pot before cooking it if you want to make your food more flavorful.
6. Enhances natural sugars in recipes
Salt enhances the sweet tastes in many dishes by bringing out the naturally occurring sugars that are present in whole foods like fruits and vegetables or added to them during processing (such as when honey is added to baked goods).
Salt And The 5 Basic Tastes
- Salt is the only flavor that enhances the taste of all five tastes, or basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami.
- Salt enhances the sweet taste of foods because it brings out their naturally occurring sugars.
- Salt enhances the sour taste of foods because it brings out their naturally occurring acids.
- Salt enhances the bitter taste of foods because it brings out their naturally occurring alkaline compounds.
- Salt enhances the salty taste of foods because it brings out their naturally occurring sodium ions.
Types Of Salt And Its Use:
- Sea salt: Sea salt is the most common type of salt used in cooking because it is usually harvested from the ocean. It has a milder taste than other types of salts, and when it is used in cooking, it doesn’t alter the food’s flavor at all.
- Table salt or table salt: Table salt is made by heating seawater to evaporate its moisture and then concentrating the remaining water to make a crystal-like substance that can be preserved. The crystals are then processed into granules that are then called table salt.
- Kosher or sea kosher: Kosher or sea kosher is another type of salt that comes from the same process as table salt but is purer and has a stronger flavor than table salt.
- Pickling or canning: Pickling and canning salts are a mixture of several different types of salts that have been blended together to create a more flavorful ingredient that can be preserved for months.
- Black pepper: Black pepper isn’t actually a type of salt but an herb that contains volatile oils called piperine which gives black pepper its characteristic spicy flavor. Black pepper also enhances the flavors of foods like tomatoes, fish, meat, eggs, potatoes, and even fruits.
Tips For Cooking With Salt
- Use a salt shaker with a fine mesh screen instead of a coarse-grained salt shaker. The finer the screen, the more accurately you can measure the amount of salt you are using in your dish.
- If you are using coarse-grained salt, make sure to measure out your salt in smaller amounts so that it dissolves completely. This way you don’t end up with too much of it on top of your dish and overpowering all of the other flavors.
- Always taste before adding any salt to see if there is enough already or if you need to add more for taste and consistency purposes.
- Don’t use too much salt because it will overpower any other flavors in your dish and make everything taste salty as well as make things like meats tough and dry.
- Don’t add too little salt because then your dish will not have enough flavor or be properly seasoned and won’t taste right at all plus it can cause bacteria growth in foods which can make them unsafe to eat or even cause food poisoning (like salmonella).
- For recipes that call for very small amounts such as 1/8 tsp., 1/16 tsp., or even less than ¼ tsp., don’t use just one kind of salt but instead try using several kinds of salts instead so they blend together better and give off different flavors each time they are used together. For example, I normally use Himalayan pink salt, sea salt, and kosher salt in my cooking.
- You can also use other ingredients such as herbs, spices, or citrus zest to give off different flavors and add additional benefits to your dish.
There are many different kinds of salts available in the market today. Pickling and canning salts are a mixture of several different types of salts that have been blended together to create a more flavorful ingredient that can be preserved for months. Black pepper isn’t actually a type of salt but an herb that contains volatile oils called piperine which gives black pepper its characteristic spicy flavor. Black pepper also enhances the flavors of foods like tomatoes, fish, meat, eggs, potatoes, and even fruits.
Salt is an essential part of our diet and can be used to bring out the flavor in almost any dish. It can also be used to help regulate blood pressure and add flavor to your favorite foods. However, too much salt can have negative effects on your health. When you use the right type of salt, in the right amount, you can enjoy the full flavor of your food and make healthy eating more enjoyable. You can also reduce your sodium intake and make sure your dishes taste great, even without the added salt. So, what are you waiting for? Get out that salt shaker and amp up the flavor of your next dish.