It’s happened to the best of us. We taste a food and it’s way too salty! What can we do? Your first instinct might be to throw it out and start over. But that’s costly, time consuming, and probably not necessary. Below are some ways to remedy the situation. Some options may work better than others, depending upon the type of food you’re working with and how much salt is in there. Nevertheless, anything is worth a try over throwing out good food!
Here’s a video where I cover these tips…
1. Add more liquid. If you’re making soup, a sauce, or another liquid dish and it’s too salty, add more liquid to balance it out. Of course, this may mean you need to add more of the other flavorings already in the dish, but that is do-able.
2. Increase the recipe. Try increasing the recipe. If you’re cooking a stew and it’s too salty, you could add more vegetables and a little more of the liquid that was used in the stew. Adding a little more browned meat may also do the trick, but adding more vegetables may be simpler, since extra meat may be frozen in a larger amount than needed. Allow the altered stew to cook a little while, then taste it before adding any other seasonings to adjust the flavor.
3. Rinse salty raw meat. If you’re just getting started with a meat and you’ve accidentally over-salted it, give it a quick rinse under cold running water, then pat it dry with a paper towel. Of course, any other seasonings that were added to the meat will then need to be replaced. But that’s far better than tossing the meat!
4. Add a bit of acid. A small splash of vinegar, lemon juice, or another acidic liquid can mask the saltiness of soups, sauces, and other liquid dishes. If you’re not thrilled about adding more water to the pot, this may be an alternative.
5. Add a little sweetener. A pinch of sugar or other sweetener may also counter excessive saltiness in a liquid food, like soups, stews and sauces.
6. Change it to a milk or cream based dish. Transform the food into a cream-based dish, such as adding cream to a tomato-based sauce, making it a tomato-cream sauce. It would add a new flavor dimension while cutting the saltiness.
7. Try a potato. Some sources claim that adding a potato to a liquid-based dish will cut some of the saltiness, while others claim this will not work. When in trouble, it’s worth a try. If your dish does not already have cut potatoes in it, place a washed, whole potato (with the peel) in your salty soup or stew and let it cook for a while. The whole potato can be removed at the end, if desired. If this trick works for you, please let me know! If nothing else, the potato will absorb some of the salty liquid, thereby removing some of the salt that way. Removing the potato, then adding back some unsalted liquid may help a little.
8. Soak it in water. If you purchased a food that is too salty, such as bacon, a ham, or salt pork, simply soak it in some water for a couple hours (in the refrigerator). The extra salt will leach out into the water.
9. Cover it with an unsalted sauce or topping. If you’ve over-salted a main dish, such as a meat or a casserole, and it’s too late to fix the problem, try balancing it out with an under-salted sauce or topping for the food. When eaten together, the two may balance each other out to have just the right amount of salt.
Simple tips to avoid over salting foods in the first place…
1. Don’t measure over the pot. Don’t measure salt over a vessel (pot, pan, bowl, skillet, etc.) that you’re preparing food in. If you accidentally spill some, it will be hard to remove all the excess.
2. Check the lid! Check the lid of the salt container before pouring. If it’s loose, you’re in trouble!
3. Consider the other ingredients. Beware of other ingredients that may be salty when using them in a dish with added salt. For example, if you’re using canned vegetables that contain salt, or a store-bought container of broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, salted butter, anchovies, capers, or pickles, it may contain more salt than you think. It’s better to season lightly, taste as you go, then add more when you’re sure it needs the extra flavoring.
4. Start with less seasoning, then taste and adjust. Deliberately use less seasoning while cooking. Taste and adjust seasoning as you go being careful not to overdo it.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.