How do I control the amount of salt I use in my cooking?

Dear Cooks,

I like cooking and I think that most of the time my

food comes out pretty decent.  My problem is that I

can’t tell how much salt to add, I usually do ok with

soups because I add all the spices in the blender

(with the tomatoes, tomato sauce, garlic, etc)and it

works out, most of the time.  But, in certain

occasions my food is too bland, I am always scared

that my food might be too salty but it ends up bland.

Is there a secret to adding salt; like a teaspoon of

salt per 2 cups of liquid or a certain measurement per

piece of meat?  I do taste my food when I add salt but

I really can’t tell, not until I sit down to eat and

find out there’s not enough salt and pass the shaker

around to the others.

Please help,

N from the ATX

Dear “N”,

Some people add salt at the end of the cooking process, especially if you are cooking certain foods like mushrooms (salt will draw out all of the liquid from mushrooms so don’t salt them too early).  However, we like to salt along the way as we cook.  You should not over-salt, because nothing is worse than using too much salt and then ruining an otherwise great dish.  One time, one of us (to remain un-named) over-salted the water that was cooking fresh pasta and the whole pasta dish was ruined because it absorbed the salt from the salt water.

So to play it safe,  you could use Kosher salt in cooking,which isn’t as strong, and you could err on the side of caution by using less than is called for in a recipe.  Also, make sure to taste your food during the cooking process.  Salt is one of those flavors that you will be able to taste as soon as you add it.  Remember, you can always add more salt at the table, but it is harder to dilute the saltiness once it’s there.

-The Cooks

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