The importance of salt

Posted on 2 min read

Even as a rare guest in your own kitchen for a few fried eggs on occasion: a seasoning known even to the rarest chefs – Yes, we are talking about salt. It is the number one ingredient that everyone in the world has in their pantry. But why is it so ubiquitous and what else can it do in Swiss cuisine?

The role of salt is quite tremendous and not only makes bland dishes tasty, but also brings out the natural flavours and improves the general taste of dishes.

Salt also acts as a binding agent in meat (like sausages and ham), but it’s also practical in home cooking, like when you want to make burger patties. Don’t waste eggs and flour, don’t dilute the meaty flavour or ruin the consistency of the future delicious burger. Use salt instead. Chop the meat as coarsely or consistent as you like, form some patties and simply season them with salt. It extracts the proteins that make pieces of meat stick together. And off you go! These firm and beautiful meat patties are ready for the grill or the pan.

But salt has another superpower — as a naturally occurring preservative that has helped people preserve meat, fish, dairy products, fruit and vegetables for centuries. Long before the invention of the refrigerator, salt solutions were used to ensure food safety. It not only gives food a pleasant aroma of lactic acid fermentation, but also inhibits the growth of bacteria, unwanted yeasts and moulds that are responsible for food poisoning.

What else? Salt helps in baking by slowing down some of the fermentation processes that can otherwise give the dough an undesirable aroma. It also helps the browning process of the pastry by reducing fermentation, and it strengthens the gluten — giving more power to any flour. Through this, the dough can retain water better.

The next time you are asked about your favourite product in the kitchen cupboard, you will now know the right answer. But be careful: excess salt can also be harmful!

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