An “Ideal” Amount Of Salt?

by A.J. Coltrane

Does not dig salt.

Most rustic breads call for right around 2% salt by weight, relative to the flour weight.

That got me thinking today:  Is that the “ideal” amount of salt for all savory foods? Is it even close to “correct” in most instances?

According to the interwebs, one teaspoon of salt weighs 6 grams.

So, let’s say we have a 10 oz steak. That’s 283 grams. 283 x .02 = 5.66 grams, or about .95 tsp.

That doesn’t sound like a crazy amount of salt. If it were broken out into 3 oz cuts it would be about .3 teaspoons per serving. That still sounds reasonable.

How about if I had 1 pound of potatoes? I’ll spare the math, it comes out to 1.5 teaspoons of salt. For 3-4 fairly good size russets it would be a little less than 1/2 teaspoon per potato. That still sounds like it’s in the ballpark.

So the next time I’m sauteing some vegetables, I’ll just weigh them beforehand and remove the guesswork? Or maybe I should weigh them after they’ve lost some of their water to evaporation…

Now I need to look through some cookbooks and see how *that* averages out..

4 thoughts on “An “Ideal” Amount Of Salt?

  1. You pose a very interesting question here. Unlike baking, the salt content in regular cooking is somewhat objective in most recipes. I have gotten to the point where I am pretty much going “to taste” on most things – adding the salt at the end of the cooking process (especially on anything that is a reduction) and the amount that I add is usually less than what the recipe calls for. If you are looking for weight, especially with veggies, I would recommend weighing after cooking due to evaporation of water. Adding 1 teaspoon of salt to uncooked veggies is going to have a very different impact than adding it to the cooked product. One other thing you need to consider, with meat, there is a certain amount of salt already present in the meat itself, so it is possible to over-salt even with using the right amount. If I remember correctly, for steak the recommendation is one teaspoon per 16 oz for kosher salt.

    Love the Mr. Potato Head Picture

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  2. I each individual probably has their own “ideal” level, and it could possibly be expressed as a ratio relative to whatever the ideal is. In other words “Jim likes his stuff salty. He wants X * 1.12 for the salt content.

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  3. That, and I think the salt level is subjective because the recipes themselves are subjective — “3 large potatoes” … what is that *really*?

    Of course they have to say “salt to taste” at that point. They’ve already abandoned any idea of precision.

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  4. Agreed – most recipes have abandoned any chance of precision. You have to take a look at the Modernist Cuisine at Home book – everything is expressed in precise times, weights (in grams!) and temperatures so it really does take the guesswork out of making food.

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