Why does salt make everything taste better?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “why does salt make everything taste better” with an in-depth analysis of the possible reasons behind the fact that salt enhances the taste profile of different foods. Moreover, we are going to discuss why our body needs salt and what is the best time to add salt to our food.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

Why does salt make everything taste better?

There are a couple of reasons that justify why salt makes everything taste better.

Flavor enhancer

There are five different types of tastes that a person can perceive. They are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami. So to break it for you, salt simply tastes “salty”. So the thing that gives this salty tasting compound a position of flavor enhancer is that your body naturally needs salt to function properly. The sodium and chlorine present in the formulation of salt (sodium chloride) play important roles in the biochemical processes taking place in the body. So it is safe to say that our body has a natural craving for salt.

Moreover, the chemical composition of the salt also plays an important role in bringing out that amazing flavor in our foods. So when we add salt to a certain food it is not only the taste of the salt that we will perceive while consuming the food, but also the salt tends to enhance the overall taste of the whole dish, it just brings forth the taste of the food itself. Moreover, you must have noticed that certain foods do not have very noticeable flavors but when we add the salt to them, neurological magic happens, and ta-da! our taste receptors start to detect that slight flavor afterward.

Enhance sweetness and blocks bitterness

So the salt has a natural capability to block the bitter taste, thus it can decrease the level to which our taste buds can perceive bitterness. That is why it makes those bitter green vegetables more palatable once it is added to them.

As the chemical formulation of the salt helps in decreasing the perception of bitterness in foods, thereby it makes the sweet flavor come forth in such situations. And that’s the very reason that a chocolate pudding or chocolate cake with a pinch of salt tastes sweeter than a pudding or cake without that pinch of salt.

Thus not only the salt decreases the perception of bitterness, but it also enhances both the sweet and umami flavor. But you should keep in mind never to overdo salting as it can ruin the flavors if used in really large quantities. 

Make the meat juicier

Now the salt can make the meat juicier by the process of brining. To break it to you, brining is the process in which the meat is soaked into water that has some salt and sometimes different herbs in it. 

The reason behind why brining makes the meat juicier is that the salt disrupts the proteins present in the meat, and the process of osmosis sets in. So what happens is that the water with salt in which the meat is dipped in more of a hypotonic solution as compared to the inside of the cells of the meat. So the water moves from a point of lower solute concentration (saltwater)  to the point of higher solute concentration (meat). Thereby making the meat juicier.  

Why does the body need salt?

Salt is a crystalline solid compound that is composed of two elements, sodium, and chloride and is used to add salty flavor to our foods.

So it’s the sodium present in the formulation of the salt that serves many important functions in the human body. Sodium keeps the osmotic balance of the body in check, thus prevents the two extremes, dehydration and overhydration. Moreover, it plays an important role when it comes to the contracting and relaxing movements of the muscles in our body. It also has a role in sending impulses throughout the body and in regulating the blood pressure.

Moreover, the chlorine present in the salt also helps in various biochemical processes taking part in the body.

When is the best time to salt?

So when it comes to cooked dishes like those gravies, soups, or other slow-cooked dishes, it is better if you add the salt during the cooking process. This way salt will have enough time to interact with the whole of the food uniformly. If you add the salt to the food at the time of eating it, it will give you that sudden saltish taste but you will not have an even salty taste throughout your whole dish.

Moreover what is the best time to add salt to the food depends mainly on the type of food that you are cooking or eating. For instance, in the case of the cooked meats, it is recommended to add salt at the beginning of the cooking process while for the saute vegetables, it is better if you add the salt at the end if you want that crunch to be present in your saute vegetables. Adding salt, in the beginning, can result in soggy vegetables as the salt drains out the water from the vegetables.

You can read more about the best time to add salt to your dishes here.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “why does salt make everything taste better” with an in-depth analysis of the possible reasons behind the fact that salt enhances the taste profile of different foods. Moreover, we discussed why our body needs salt and what is the best time to add salt to our food.

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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