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Salting water for steaming?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

If I salt the water used to steam, say, asparagus, will the asparagus get the taste of salt? 

post #2 of 24

I probably won't taste "salty" but it will taste better than if you don't salt the water.

post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks! So that means that some of the salt ends up in my asparagus, correct? 

post #4 of 24

This is a very interesting question... so I had to look online, and found a comment that seems pretty logical...not sure though. I'd love to know the true answer.

 


I'm guessing the question is whether salting water before steaming affects
the taste. I would say not, as evaporation does not carry particulates
otherwise it would rain salt water all over the planet.

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post #5 of 24

I think I might have located a more reliable answer than the last one I posted.

 

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem00/chem00492.htm

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
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post #6 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks Pollopicu. 

 

So in light of that new evidence (I actually just gave it a try and that's correct, the condensed steam in the glass is not salted), I would say that food tastes exactly the same whether the water is salted or not, since in both cases what actually reaches the food is unsalted steam. Would you agree? 

post #7 of 24

Yes, it would've been cool if it did though. I never thought of that before. It was a good question.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
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post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 

Still, I don't suppose that all steam is pure H2o - I mean then we wouldn't have acid rains. Also, if you put alcohol in your water, the alcohol will start creating its own steam before water does... and your food will taste like alcohol (I'm assuming, never tried)...

 

So far I'm assuming it still makes sense to, say, steam couscous on top of a flavorfull broth to infuse the couscous with the flavor. 

 

Not sure how to determine what will be part of the steam and what won't. 

post #9 of 24

I'm not sure, I know it works with smoke (as in tea-smoked ribs), and I've heard of tea-steamed dumplings because i was thinking of trying it for my own menu, and you would think that a strong aromatic such as tea would leave some traces of flavor, as oppose to just salt.

 

again..good question.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #10 of 24

I am in Maryland, we regularly steam crabs and shrimp.  Often I add a beer/onions/spices to the water, I definitely can taste the difference between when the beer is there or not.

post #11 of 24

I think actual flavors infuse through steam, but not necessarily salt.

 

I've heard of tea-steamed fish also.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
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post #12 of 24

Hm, anybody remember distilled water?

 

You boil water and condense the steam and you get pure distilled water, in fact, that is how laboratories can make their own pure water!

 

Now, if the water contains other liquids that vaporize below the boiling point of water, it IS true that those vapors will come off first. Ethanol boils at 173.1°F (78.37° C).

 

Salt "boils" at 2,669°F (1,465° C), which, TTBOMK, is slightly above the capability of most cooking appliances crazy.gif
 

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post #13 of 24

A related question, then. When i'm making pasta, and the water is almost boiling, if i throw the handful of salt in then, the water suddenly boils up.  Is it because salt water boils at a lower temperature (like it melts at a higher temperature - hence salt on the icy steps) or because of some other reaction where the salt dissolves and air is released?   (ok ok, i;ve said before i practically failed high school chemistry).  I'm curious. 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #14 of 24

Siduri, see: http://chemistry.about.com/od/foodchemistryfaqs/f/Does-Adding-Salt-Lower-The-Boiling-Point-Of-Water.htm, salt actually increases to boiling point slightly, though adding salt to already boiling water can cause splashing as if the water boils faster.
 

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post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

You boil water and condense the steam and you get pure distilled water, in fact, that is how laboratories can make their own pure water!

So you're saying all steam is pure H2o? What about acid rains then?

post #16 of 24

Rain is water.

post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kuan View Post

Rain is water.

And acid rain? Is it acid water?

post #18 of 24

Rain is NOT pure water, although the water vapor that accumulates in the atmosphere starts as pure water from evaporation. Unfortunately, the atmosphere also contains many gases and gaseous compounds besides pure water that get mixed with and dissolved in the water vapor and descend as rain, acid or not.

 

That is why the air seems clearer immediately following a rainstorm, the rain washes the impurities out of the atmosphere.
 

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post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thanks Pete!

 

So steam is always, always pure water? All those chefs, including ChicagoTerry in this thread, who claim that salting the steaming water, or flavoring it with aromatics to flavor the products being steamed... are wrong? 

 

Or is steam pure water that can catch some of the gasses and particles - for example the same ones that are responsible to carry the smell to our nose - and therefore no longer pure water by the time it reaches the products being steamed - and therefore it flavors them? 

 

After all, if I put my nose on top of a steaming bowl of soup, I know that there's more than just pure water reaching my nose...

post #20 of 24

IMHO, if the boiling/simmering liquid contains compounds that vaporize at or below the boiling point, the vapor WILL consist of water vapor PLUS the other vapors.
 

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post #21 of 24

Ok. Time for your friendly neighbourhood biochemist to drop in for the rescue:

 

Steam does carry aromatic compounds, of course - those which are volatile, such as etheric oils from herbs etc. This is acutally used to isolate such flavor compounds - we call it steam destillation. However, inorganic ionic compounds such as table salt don't really get carried with the steam. However, if the water in your steamer boils really vigorously, it might carry some of the salt to the steamed goods, simply by splashing them with it. The actual steam, however, will not carry any significant salt.

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post

Thanks Pollopicu. 

 

So in light of that new evidence (I actually just gave it a try and that's correct, the condensed steam in the glass is not salted), I would say that food tastes exactly the same whether the water is salted or not, since in both cases what actually reaches the food is unsalted steam. Would you agree? 


Isn't it obvious, though?

post #23 of 24
Dear FF:  Get your cleanest stainless pan, put water and salt, let it boil until the last drop of water evaporates and see what happens in the sides and bottom of the pan.
Of course, as Gene said, it's expected that fractional particles of the salt will reach your asparagus, but that's not relevant.
Steaming using stocks is another matter.

Edited by Ordo - 5/1/13 at 1:13pm
Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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Gebe Gott uns allen, uns Trinkern, einen so leichten und so schönen Tod! Joseph Roth.
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post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeneMachine View Post

Steam does carry aromatic compounds, of course - those which are volatile, such as etheric oils from herbs etc. 

Dear friendly neighborhood biochemist, thanks for chiming in! smile.gif

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