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How to make food absorb more salt when cooking a soup?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Animals foods and vegetables will absorb salt during cooking, just wondering if there is anything that can be done to make them absorb more or most of the salt?  E.g. adding salt before cooking rather then at the end will ensure there is more absorbtion.

 

Is there anything else that can be done e.g. does slow cooking help, type of salt used or anything other factors.

 

Thanks

post #2 of 28
Thread Starter 

Suppose you have two equal pots with equal solids and 1 tblsp of salt in each the only difference is that one pot cooks with 1 litre of water and the other cooks with two, will the solids in one pot absorb more then the other?  As you can see i'm just trying to find all the factors.

post #3 of 28

I would assume yes !  As the salt is more concentrated using less water.

I believe the absorption occurs because the heat opens the cells of the product. therefore taking not only exterior but interior salt.

If you let the product cool in the liquid it would probably be more salty to the taste

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

What about slow cooking i.e. increasing heat into simmer slowly rather then brining to a simmer on a high boil quickly. Might this make for better salt absorbtion or unlikely?

 

 

post #5 of 28

Try yourself to find out

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #6 of 28

This article on Salt Absorption in the Human Colon may provide helpful information as well as other information from a Google Search

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #7 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorinated View Post

What about slow cooking i.e. increasing heat into simmer slowly rather then brining to a simmer on a high boil quickly. Might this make for better salt absorbtion or unlikely?

 

 



No difference.

 

BDL

post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 

"Try yourself to find out"

 

Thats what I'm doing, however it would take a lot of time to test all factors.  A scientific or logical explanation could save me a lot of work not to mention becoming more educated on the chemistry of cooking.

post #9 of 28

Of course it would, it's just that what you're looking for in food is at the opposite end of the spectrum from most others. So that sort of research hasn't been investigated because it has little to no market.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #10 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorinated View Post

"Try yourself to find out"

 

Thats what I'm doing, however it would take a lot of time to test all factors.  A scientific or logical explanation could save me a lot of work not to mention becoming more educated on the chemistry of cooking.

Along the lines of scientific explanation, perhaps if you peruse the articles in Salt Absorption in the Human Colon you will become more educated in the utilization of salt by humans as well.

 

As previously stated, salt is an ionic compound that readily dissolves in water and will move from high concentration to low until equilibrium is reached, that is basic chemistry. Speed of the reaction is dependent on time, temperature, and relative concentrations, but it still comes down to concentration.

 


 

 

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Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
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post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorinated View Post

"Try yourself to find out"

 

Thats what I'm doing, however it would take a lot of time to test all factors.  A scientific or logical explanation could save me a lot of work not to mention becoming more educated on the chemistry of cooking.


If you want a scientific explanation, try researching scientific sources.  Dissolving crystallized salts into solution is a well researched and well understood phenomenon.  This just isn't the right place to ask.  Not many here remember high-school chemistry.  You obviously don't, either. 

 

No offense meant, but you should take a step back and look at your threads from an objective viewpoint.  I'm sure you're sincere, but you're also very difficult, demanding, hard to understand and ask questions with incredibly obvious answers.  Some -- if not most -- of the people trying to help you don't say things like "use more fat," or "use more salt," because they can't believe that's really what you're asking.  Consequently, some of the answers you get don't make a lot of sense because they're not responsive to the actual question. 

 

When you get the right answer, just say "thanks," and stop.  Even though it wasn't the answer you wanted, Ed was trying to help you.  Neither he, nor the rest of us, are under any obligation to "save [you] a lot of work."  Besides, putting more salt in the soup, and letting it sit for a few minutes doesn't really count as work.

 

BDL

post #12 of 28

Harold McGee's On Cooking is one of the definitive guides to food science. Check that. If not there's always the article on salt absorption in the human colon that I found while doing a handy dandy google search. ;)

post #13 of 28

Is this Americas Test Kitchen?

post #14 of 28

I understand your request but if your trying to infuse more salt into the solids then my sugestion is to infuse the solids with salt and or seasoning before adding them to the stock, soup, water then maybe you will get your disired result.. an added benefit is that you may need less salt in your soup! This is just my 53 year non-professional cooking opinion! "Remember cooking is an art so use lots of color!"

post #15 of 28


Originally Posted by sjdthepcmd View Post


I understand your request but if your trying to infuse more salt into the solids then my sugestion is to infuse the solids with salt and or seasoning before adding them to the stock, soup, water then maybe you will get your disired result.. an added benefit is that you may need less salt in your soup! This is just my 53 year non-professional cooking opinion! "Remember cooking is an art so use lots of color!"



Please pardon my bluntness.  Chlorinated does not see less salt as an added benefit.  With respect, I believe you neither understand his "request" nor his "desired result." 

 

He doesn't want less salt in his soup, he wants more.  He wants it evenly diffused through the solids and the liquids.  He wants those things because he believes they are beneficial to his health, particularly the health of his "gut."   He also believes high fat levels are similarly beneficial.  He believes as well that the nutritional benefits are best accomplished with soup. 

 

In my forty something years of cooking, some professional and more not, I can't recall anyone suggesting, pre-salting, brining or even marinating ingredients for the purposes of making soup.   Do you do it yourself?  If you have a recipe, it would be interesting if you could share it.  (I'm not referring to adjusting salt levels and/or timing to accommodate already salty or salted ingredients like country ham, pickled vegetables, etc. 

 

"Cooking opinion," does not actually play much part, although cooking experience should at least supply some practical knowledge. 

 

As a matter of chemistry, culinary technique, physics and whatever other disciplines describe the ordinary ordering of the universe, for the purposes of soup, it doesn't matter if the salt is introduced via the solids, directly into the liquid, or in some combination  In any quantity below the saturation level, as long as salt  is given sufficient time to dissolve and diffuse, once diffused, it's diffused. 

 

BDL


Edited by boar_d_laze - 10/18/11 at 1:26pm
post #16 of 28

BDL , Don't even try, or get yourself upset over this craziness,.  Not worth your time and effort or help or knowlege as this person is trying to push your buttons. You and I found out by doing, so let others learn the same way. ED

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 

"If you want a scientific explanation, try researching scientific sources.  Dissolving crystallized salts into solution is a well researched and well understood phenomenon.  This just isn't the right place to ask."

 

Please don’t take my comments out of context just because you don’t like me.  Firstly I asked a perfectly normal question which is something people on here might know i.e. what factors can make the solids in a soup absorb more salt.  As has been identified salting at the beginning, using less liquid and possibly brining could be two factors.

 

I didn’t make any specific request for a scientific answer, go read the original post it was just a simple question.  I did however mention in the context of a bonus it would be nice to get a scientific OR logical explanation since that helps us understand why cooks may choose to for example use less liquid.  Turns out ed himself did so I quote “I believe the absorption occurs because the heat opens the cells of the product. therefore taking not only exterior but interior salt.” Not what I came here for, but I did learn something in addition to the cooking I am doing myself.

 

"I'm sure you're sincere, but you're also very difficult, demanding, hard to understand and ask questions with incredibly obvious answers."

 

What may be obvious to a chef with years of experience may not be obvious to a new cook.  Every time I cook it comes out in different ways e.g. one day the chicken taste salty while the water tastes under salted and another day the chicken tastes under salted and the water overly salted, I am trying to figure out why this is and what i can do to control these things.  I take it you learnt these sort of things overnight rather than through education and practice?

 

“When you get the right answer, just say "thanks," and stop.  Even though it wasn't the answer you wanted, Ed was trying to help you.  Neither he, nor the rest of us, are under any obligation to "save [you] a lot of work." 

 

Do you say that to everybody that posts on this forums? Or just new cooks? Or perhaps people who don’t mind understanding cooking techniques with a little reasoning behind them? I don’t know what your problem is but I have neither gone beyond the topic of this forum or been rude to anybody.  Or perhaps its because I like animal fat? I do remember explaining my reasons, is another  opinion too much for you too handle?  Whatever the case, I hope you get over your issue because its not immediately apparent to me.

 

“Please pardon my bluntness.  Chlorinated does not see less salt as an added benefit.  With respect, I believe you neither understand his "request" nor his "desired result."

 

Actually he understood my request and desired result perfectly.  I don’t see anywhere I have mentioned ‘we should use more salt in cooking’ in fact it’s the over saltiness of my soup which is causing me stomach problems.  Actually I asked about how to make solids in a soup absorb more salt, that is very different from telling people to use more salt in cooking.

post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorinated View Post
 ...Actually I asked about how to make solids in a soup absorb more salt, that is very different from telling people to use more salt in cooking....

I will try again.

 

Salt is an ionic molecule. When salt is added to a water based liquid, it ionizes and disperses throughout the liquid until an equilibrium is reached, i.e. all parts of the liquid have an equal concentration of salt.

 

If a food solid with a lower concentration of salt is introduced to the liquid, ions of Na and Cl will move from the liquid into the food solid until the concentrations are equal.

 

If a food solid with a higher concentration of salt is introduced to the liquid, ions of Na and Cl will move from the solid into the liquid until the concentrations are equal.

 

The time necessary to reach equilibrium, i.e. equal concentration, is inversely proportional to the temperature of the liquid (water) and solid, i.e. lower temperature -> longer time, higher temperature->shorter time.

 

The time necessary to reach equilibrium, i.e. equal concentration, is measured from the time the salt and liquid/solid are combined or from the time a solid is introduced into a salt solution.

 

Regardless as to when the salt is combined with the liquid or the solid is introduced to the salt solution, the final concentration will be the same.

 

With the exception of extraordinary laboratory types of equipment or techniques, it is impossible to achieve anything other than an equilibrium in a salt solution, i.e. salt ions will move from a higher concentration to a lower concentration until the concentrations are equal.

 

If a specific quantity of salt is added to a specific quantity of water, a specific concentration will result. The final concentration will not vary as a result of varying techniques of combining the salt and water, i.e. if 1 ounce (weight) of salt is added to 100 ounces (weight) of water, the concentration will be 1% (1/100) , which is equivalent to 10,000 ppm.

 

If one prepares a soup using precisely the same ingredients in precisely the same quantities, with regards to salt and water, the resulting saltiness will be precisely the same. This is a fundamental concept. The technique(s) utilized will have insignificant impact on the results as far as salt concentration, under normal kitchen conditions.

 

If the solid being introduced has a higher or lower salt concentration prior to being introduced, that initial concentration will affect the final concentration, unless the solid is introduced with insufficient time to achieve equilibrium with the liquid.

 

The saltiness of a specific dish or soup is only affected by the amount of salt added, by whatever means, not by the technique by which it is added.

 

The perception of saltiness is another question entirely and is highly dependent on the individual.


 

 

Chef,
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post #19 of 28
Thread Starter 

Hmmm.  The other day I was doing some testing and cooked a soup with no vegetables just chicken, water and 1/2 tbp of sea salt.  At the end I tasted and although I could taste some salt in the water it tasted largely under salted.  The chicken tasted like it was very undersalted aswell.  This being the case I added another quarter tsp and simmered it for 20 minutes.  According what you have said Pete, I believe since I simmered for long enough the salt should now have equally distributed throughout the soup.  I could have sworn that upon retasting the soup the water tasted extremely salty and the chicken still tasted very undersalted i.e. it seemed the addition of more salt only affected the water and not the chicken. 

 

I am guessing you will say that the water in the chicken must have had an equal amount of salt as elsewhere in the soup however since i am eating the chicken with its other parts rather then sipping liquid it just tasted different?

 

That being the case I suppose the best thing is for me to get a scale of some sort to weigh the salt? I take it if one weighs coarse sea salt if the amounts are the same it can be considered equal despite grain sizes? I have to ask this because measuring by looking hasn't been very effective for me, I tried 1/2, 3/4 and 1 tsp of salt and the former 2 turned out to be too low wheareas the last turned out to be too high.  As you can see there it is difficult to find a difference between 3/4 and 1 which is why I was convinced there was another factor which was affecting the saltiness of my soup.

post #20 of 28

diffusion in the open water is fast . into solids, slow.  This is why brining times  are long.  Also the salt in the liquid is readily tasted,  in the solids, its not as easily tasted as its not presented to the tongue so easily.  were it not so sea water would kill us quickly, baths in pure water would drain us of our electrolytes.

 

 

Once you add acellular membrane diffusion gets very different.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #21 of 28
Thread Starter 

Phatch, so in plain english, besides the point that the taste it is less noticeable even when equal in solids,I think what you are saying is when I added the salt second time around, it quickly diffused to the open water however it did not diffuse into the solids so well because it needed more time?

 

If this is what you are saying, assume you have have two pots with equal ingredients and concentration, the only difference is that pot 1 you add 1tsp of salt at the begining and simmer for 1 hour, pot 2 you intially add no salt and simmer for 1 hour, then add 1 tsp of salt and simmer for another hour.  Would you expect concentration and taste of salt in solids to be more or less equal since you have given both the same amount of time and conditions to diffuse?  

post #22 of 28

Yes.

 

And I don't think you've got enough time in that situation for the salt to make the difference in the solids you want. As well as quality issues in perhaps overcooking the meat.

 

For the results you seem to be seeking. you'd probably be closer to what you want with cooking your high fat stock and throwing out the ingredients you used to make it, keeping just the stock and fat.

 

Then add meat and vegetables you've cooked separately and seasoned the way you want them to be. Do this for each bowl of soup to keep it consistent rather than adding it all to the pot and losing the proper saltiness to the liquid as you store it in the fridge.

 

But that' s expensive and extra work.

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 

Two questions:

 

Is a typical chicken soup cooked in 40 minutes to 1 hour sufficient to get equal diffusion of salt across water and solids?

 

Based on my cooking, it seems to me that salt is absorbed better(more diffusion) if you add it at the beginning of cooking rather then if you add it later where you may have to leave it longer to diffuse longer.  Is my observation correct and if so do you know why this is?

 

Cheers

post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlorinated View Post

Two questions:

 

Is a typical chicken soup cooked in 40 minutes to 1 hour sufficient to get equal diffusion of salt across water and solids?

 

Based on my cooking, it seems to me that salt is absorbed better(more diffusion) if you add it at the beginning of cooking rather then if you add it later where you may have to leave it longer to diffuse longer.  Is my observation correct and if so do you know why this is?

 

Cheers


Depends on the size of the solids. But probably for most people.You seem to have different requirements.

 

Generally time is on the side of even diffusion, yes. It's because of the greater time the salt has to penetrate and even itself out.

 

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #25 of 28

1.  Your first post asked about adding more salt.  If you ever said anything about using less salt, you didn't say it in this forum until after my posts.  Your objection to my accurate restatement of what you actually said is the sort of thing which makes meaningful communication difficult.

 

2.  I did not, and will not take your remarks out of context.  You create the context with the remarks.  For instance, in post 8, you asked for "scientific or logical" explanations.  You shouldn't be surprised if the word "science," comes back.

 

3.  I do not dislike you.  I have no personal feelings for you at all.  Why would I?  Some people think you're a troll because you ask simple-minded questions.  I don't.  I take you and your questions at face value.  

 

4.  I do not take the same attitude with everyone, and am generally very gentle with beginners.  Someone pointed out to me that I can be grumpy; and it's true that I don't suffer fools gladly.  But, enough about me.

 

If you want to be treated with respect, act respectably.  It's generally a bad idea to insult someone, then ask questions about the issues he raised.

 

Quit fighting with people who are trying to offer the aid you sought.  It doesn't matter whether you like the answers or not.  It is very frustrating to be misinterpreted, and you've had more than your share come your way.  However, part of that comes from the nature of your questions and the way in which you ask them.  The "old timers" here are not an unfriendly bunch. 

 

5.  How quickly salt reaches equilibrium in something like a soup depends on a number of factors.  The most important are the salinity of the solution and the individual objects in it before salt is added; temperature; how closely the added salt will push the solution towards saturation; density of the solids; presence or absence of impermeable barriers; presence or absence and degree of permeability of semi-permeable barriers. 

 

This is high-school chemistry at most.  The fundamental laws of the universe don't change because we're talking about cooking.

 

6.  Your hypothesis regarding diffusion when salt is added early as opposed to being added later has merit to the extent it deals in the factors listed above in #5 -- primarily temperature, degree of salinity, how closely you approach saturation, and the salinity of the solids.  Otherwise it has no merit that I can think of. 

 

7.  Forty minutes to an hour probably isn't enough to reach complete equilibrium.  The way to tell if forty minutes or an hour is enough to reach the level you desire, is to taste.  A great many cooks never figure out the importance of tasting.  Don't be one of them. 

 

If the soup hasn't reached the desired equilibrium, give it more time.  As a general rule, a night in the refrigerator is a good thing for soups, stews and braises. 

 

8.  Do not expect technical cooking refinements or advanced techniques in response to your questions, because the questions do not call for them.  If you want more fat, use more fat.  If you want more salt, use more salt and more and saltier things.  If you want less salt, use less salt and fewer and less salty things.  If you want the salt more equally diffused, give it more time.  It's as simple as that.

 

BDL

post #26 of 28

[edit] Need to stop skimming. Osmosis doesn't REQUIRE high temperatures, so leaving them in the fridge overnight makes sense. You just answered my own questions for me BDL.

post #27 of 28

Sea salt believe it or not, by volume is not as salty as regular table salt. Many people use it for low salt cooking. To obtain the same flavor of regular salt you must increase amount used. You should write all your results of experimatation down so that in the future if someone ask a question about this you can answer them.with the utmost fact.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #28 of 28

I don't know anything about science, but I do know that 40 minutes to an hour is not enough time to make a good soup, never mind if it's oversalted or undersalted.  40 minutes is just about enough time to make chicken flavored juice.  The reason you're not getting the answers you need is because people answering your questions are ones that are aiming for flavor, not scientific products.  If you ask us how to make a good soup we can tell you, and most of us can tell you that seasoning food is a skill that is learned over time.  The best way to season is in stages when making most dishes.  In the case of soup, some of us do not add salt at all when making broth.  I have no idea what your process is, it sounds like you're putting one big chicken in the pot with water and expecting it to absorb salt.  It's a useless endeavor, we don't make it that way so how should we know how to help you at all?  After I make my saltless broth I use it to make soup.  I add to it vegetables and chicken that are cut into small pieces.  Therefore I can put salt in the soup easily and the ingredients absorb salt quickly, rather than waiting for a big chicken carcass to absorb salt.  We just don't do it that way.  Your time here will be better spent trying to learn how other more experienced cooks do things rather than making us explain to you how to make your way work better.   Your way doesn't work for me, it doesn't seem to be working for you either.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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