October 11, 2011

Tip of the day—Salting foods

Below are a few tips on salting foods.

  • I recently learned that salting eggs before cooking makes the protein in the whites a little tougher.  I’ve experimented with this and have found that it is most noticeable when making a fried egg.  When the eggs are scrambled there doesn’t seem to be as much of a difference.  Since I learned this, I now salt and pepper my eggs over easy after plating them.
  • When cooking a pot of beans, wait until the last half hour or so of cooking to salt if you want your beans to be kept whole.  When you salt earlier in the cooking, the hulls of the beans are more likely to crack and break.  If you want mushier beans, salt early.  If you are using them for something like baked beans or a salad, salt later.
  • If you don’t salt grits when they start cooking, they’ll never seem to be seasoned right.  This is one of the reasons I do not buy grits at Cracker Barrel. 
  • Salting vegetables and meats encourages the cell structure to loosen and juices to be released.  Experiment with sautéing an onion in a bit of oil.  For the first onion, don’t salt it.  For the second onion, add salt when it hits the pan.  You’ll see what a difference it makes and will get a feel for how to use salt when cooking.
  • When prepping game meats, soak them in a brine of very salty water overnight.  Discard the brine and give it a rinse and pat dry before cooking.  This helps to draw out some of the blood in the meat and thereby reduces the gamey taste.
  • When making a sweet dish, I will usually add a dash or two of salt when cooking, even if the recipe doesn’t call for it.  A touch of salt balances the sweet notes in foods, especially in dishes with chocolate or caramel. 
  • Most baking recipes recommend that you use unsalted butter.  This is for a couple of reasons.  First, you can have more control over how much salt you add to your foods.  Secondly, unsalted butter is a higher quality butter than salted. 
  • When deep frying foods, salt the food as soon as it comes out of the oil.  The salt will stick at that point, but if you wait a few minutes until it cools it won’t. 

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