Happy February! Today not only kicks off Heart Health Month, BUT it’s Wear Red Day. So, I hope everyone is rocking their red today! One of the biggest heart health recommendations is to cut back on sodium, which is an element found in salt. Sources of high sodium foods include pre-processed foods, dining out, and foods naturally high in sodium. Table salt as an ingredient is often targeted to swap or replace to help lower sodium content. But, salt is one of our most popular cooking ingredients. And just a little bit of salt can make a difference in the kitchen. Check out these creative cooking uses for salt, plus learn about a salt alternative that tastes like salt but contains significantly less sodium than traditional table salt.
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by GoodSalt. As always, all opinions are my own.
WHY DO WE USE SALT IN COOKING?
Despite all the recommendations to NOT use salt or cook with salt, it still remains one of the most popular cooking ingredients. This is probably because salt is so versatile in its uses:
- Color Controller
- Controls Fermentation
CREATIVE COOKING USES FOR SALT
“The first thing to know about salt, that every chef worth her salt knows, is to sprinkle the salt from dry fingers several inches above the food, never from a shaker,” shares Katherine Dittmann, MS, RDN. Salt does not just have to be used to sprinkle on top of foods or use as a main seasoning item. In fact, salt actually has many unique uses in the kitchen. Read on for creative cooking uses for salt.
SPEED UP COOKING PROCESS
- Adding salt to water helps it to boil at a higher temperature. This is ideal when cooking whole grains, pasta, or thick veggies (like potatoes).
- Add a pinch of salt when whipping cream or egg whites to speed up the process.
KEEP FOODS FRESH
- Keep salads fresh with a little sprinkle of salt – you can do this up to 4 hours before you plan to enjoy or serve a salad.
- If you’re doing a fruit salad, soak the fruit pieces in lightly salted water to prevent oxidation, leading to browning. This can also work on apples, potatoes, and avocados.
- Salt will keep milk fresh 1-2 days longer by adding a pinch of salt.
- Keep cheese fresh by wrapping it in a tea cloth soaked in salt water, and then dried.
- Adding a few pinches of salt to boiling water when cooking green veggies will help keep their vibrant color
- Adding salt to mushrooms and peas AFTER cooking helps maintain firmness (cooking them INsalt water can actually cause them to become mushy from the skin breaking down)
HELPS CLEAN & PREP VEGGIES
- Prefer buying fresh greens, but hate the process of cleaning the dirt and grit? Or worse – biting into a salad and still tasting dirt and grit. Soak leaves in a bowl of water with 2-3 tsp of salt. Swish around, give the leaves a little massage, and then rinse.
FLAVOR ENHANCER OR CHANGER
- Add salt to coffee to neutralize bitterness
- Salt can help sweeten bitter fruit, such as grapefruit or under-ripe fruit like melon. “I add a pinch of salt to melon before I eat it. The salt brings out the sweetness of the watermelon or other melon.” – Lisa Andrews, MEd, RD, LD Owner, Sound Bites Nutrition, LLC
- I like to make vanilla salt. Put a few split vanilla beans in a jar of kosher salt. I use it in everything from baked goods to veggies like corn, roasted carrots, tomato soup, scallops! – Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD
PREVENT SOGGY VEGGIES
- “I use salt to dehydrate zucchini noodles for zucchini noodle lasagna and my low carb zucchini enchilada recipe!” – Kelli Shallal MPH RD
- Salt can help prevent water-based veggies, like eggplant or zucchini, from getting soggy when cooking. The salt helps to “sweat out” excess moisture, preventing soggy veggies. I especially like to do this before I grill eggplant. Salt will also help take away some of the bitterness of eggplant. If they have too much moisture, they will get soggy, fall apart, and stick to the grill – not ideal! Salt the eggplant an hour before you plan to cook it. Here’s what I’ve found works best:
- Slice the eggplant either into rounds or lengthwise
- Sprinkle a little salt on both sides as you let them rest on a plate, cutting board, or sheet pan (for easy cleanup, place a few layers of paper towel underneath.
- Dab the eggplant on both sides using a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Now you’re ready to cook!
- Alternatively, you can slice the eggplant very thinly using a mandolin and applying the same salting method for 20-30 minutes. Bake the eggplant to make Eggplant Bacon!
- Pack a whole fish in a salt crust and bake it in the oven – the salt crust helps to keep the fish moist and juicy. I’ve used this Alton Brown recipe for years – so good and easy!
- Create a Salt Brine for your Thanksgiving Turkey to keep it juicy
PREVENT FOOD WASTE
- Pickling food in salt water keeps fresh produce around longer. Summer garden grow too many cucumbers? Make pickles to enjoy in the winter!
PAIRS EGG-CELLENTLY WITH EGGS
- Adding salt to water while hard boiling eggs will help make them easier to peel
- Adding a pinch when scrambling eggs will prevent them form becoming runny
- Add ½ tsp salt to boiling water before you plan to poach an egg to help set the egg whites
- Unsure if an egg is fresh or has gone rotten? Place 2 tsp salt in a cup and place an egg in it. Fresh will float, rotten will sink.
- If you drop an egg on the floor accidentally, sprinkle salt on top, wait 20 minutes, and the mess will come right up!
- When I have a leftover egg yolk, either from a recipe or after making an egg white omelet, I’ll use a mixture of kosher salt and sugar to cure it in the refrigerator. This transforms the runny yolk into a firm disc that can be sliced or grated and used as a garnish to flavor other dishes.
— Ariella Nelson, MS, RD, CDN
- Salt is the secret to making great caramelized onions. Adding salt at the beginning of the cooking process draws out water, which softens the onions and helps them caramelize faster and more evenly. – Leia Flure, MS, RD, LDN
- A salt brine is my secret to juicy pork chops! I mix 1 tablespoon salt per cup of water and submerge the pork chops in the brine for about 30 minutes before cooking. They come out moist and flavorful every time. – Jessica Ivey, RDN, LDN
- My personal salt habit is to buy sea salt from places around the world when I visit. That way, I have fond memories every time I use the local salt.” — Katherine Dittmann, MS, RDN
GET KIDS COOKING IN THE KITCHEN
- I love to include my 1 1/2 year old in the kitchen while I’m cooking. One of her favorite activities is seasoning foods with salt! I grab her a little bowl and add the amount of salt I was planning to use in the recipe, then show her to take little pinches and add the salt to the food. She loves it and it’s an age-appropriate and safe way to cook with your kids! – Stephanie Van’t Zelfden, RDN
LOW SODIUM SALT ALTERNATIVE
If you’re curious to try some of these creative cooking uses for salt, but still looking to cut back on your sodium intake overall, check out GoodSalt. GoodSalt is a revolutionary new salt that only contains 270mg of sodium, compared for 590mg in traditional table salt. That’s almost half the amount of sodium in table salt. GoodSalt also contains potassium, magnesium, lyseine, and iodine, making it more nutrient-rich than table salt. Learn more about GoodSalt as the next big salt alternative.
How does GoodSalt stack up to other types of salt? Read my full salt comparison here.
Currently GoodSalt is only available for purchase at Amazon.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE CREATIVE COOKING USES FOR SALT?
WHICH OF THE ABOVE SALK HACKS ARE YOU CURIOUS TO TRY?
SHARE YOUR SALT SECRET & CREATIVE USES IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!