How does salt react to food, refrigeration, time, cooking...?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by french fries, Dec 3, 2010.

  1. french fries

    french fries

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    How does salt react with food? More precisely, how is it that sometimes you prepare a dish, say a soup for example, salt it to taste, put leftovers in the fridge, and when you pull them out the next day it's not as salty (even after heating them up)? And it seems the longer you wait to heat them up, the more salt you need to add to bring them back to proper seasoning?

    Thanks!
     
  2. quetex

    quetex

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    Hmm, my experience has always been the other way in that the dishes are always saltier after cooling or refridgerating.
     
  3. french fries

    french fries

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    Really? That's odd! I don't think I've ever had that experience. I always have to add salt, not the other way around.

    I mean one thing I know is that we taste things better when they're warm, not super-hot nor super-cold, so maybe if you eat your food very hot you have a tendency to over season, and then when it cools off to a warm temp it becomes too salty? One thing I learned is that Coca Cola uses different recipes for the American and the French market, one of the reasons being different cultures, different tastes, but also they put much more sugar (or at least high fructose corn syrup) in the American recipe because Americans like to consume their drinks ice-cold, when you can't taste the sugar as well as when the drink is a little less cold, as French people like to drink theirs. Ever been to France before? Always priceless to see the look on an American's face when the bartender brings a glass of coke with no ice, the American asks for ice (there are no ice dispensers in French bars) and the bartender ask "One or two ice cubes?". /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
     
  4. siduri

    siduri

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    We're hijacking the thread, i think, FF, but since it's your thread, it's ok!  It's the same here, there is no ice to be bought or found and snack bars and restaurants have a little ice cube tray somewhere if you're lucky.  I don't like ice in drinks, partly because it just waters them down, though i like them refrigerator cold.  I think possibly they put more sugar and syrup in the american version also because the ice will water them down.  In the states, if i get a drink, i feel cheated because you pay for a cup of ice and a couple of tbsp of drink. 

    Anyway, back to the thread, FF i never noticed things being less salty or more after refrigerating and reheating, but for sure they're usually more tasty - many dishes benefit from sitting for a while and i think the various flavor elements - onion, herbs, pepper, etc - release more flavor with time.  Some dishes are only good fresh, but many do improve, like stews and soups.  So how does this relate to your question?  Maybe the added flavor that develops requires more salt?  That's a long shot, i admit. 
     
  5. chefross

    chefross

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    It may depend on the ingredients in the finished product. For instance, Ham and bean soup where as the soup cools down the ham leeches out more of it's salt into the mixture. Another example, of the opposite would be potatoes in stew that would absorb the salt as it sits
     
  6. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    From my experience, salt seems to react to acidity in food and your preparation gets less salty. Soup and many other products get sour after a while, maybe there's a chemical reaction where acid breaks down salt?

    You can try it yourself; slightly oversalt -let's say- a sauce. Then add some vinegar; the saltyness disappears.
     
  7. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    I agree with Chefross. We're talking diffusion here, all solutes move to equalibrium across semipermeable membranes. Salt would diffuse itself from the higher concentration of the broth into the intracellular and extracellular fluid of whatever is in the soup, assuming the broth contains a higher concentration of salt. Vegetables with high volume of water like potatoes and carrots would have a more dramatic effect (theoretically) than drier ones like beans. Additionally when you add the salt will change the dynamic. If you salt up front, since heat speeds diffusion, the salt will diffuse into the veggies/meat, pasta etc during cooking and I would think the effect of refrigeration would be less dramatic. But how do you salt to taste before cooking? On a side note I don't think it is refrigeration that's the issue but rather time.

    That's my theory- and I'm stickin to it
     
  8. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    The only time I notice food needs more salt the next day is when a dish has potatoes or rice or other starchy ingredients in it.  They seem to absorb the salt.  I haven't noticed it with other foods though.
     
  9. french fries

    french fries

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    Hi siduri!

    Ah but to be fair, the drink cups are so huuuuuge here that you're really getting TWO cups of ice and still a good amount of soda. But yeah, at first you're thinking that such a huge glass is insane, but then after a few sips the whole thing is gone even though your paper cup is still very heavy - and it's just all that ice! But you know, in most places you can ask for no ice, or very little ice, and then you get a HUGE amount of soda. Honestly I don't drink soda anymore, especially not from the fountains. But we digress! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif
     
  10. french fries

    french fries

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    EXACTLY. I think the first time I noticed this was with a soup that had a lot of potatoes in it. Then I think I've noticed it with other starches, like lentils, bean soups, etc... Maybe it's something to do with the way the salt reacts to the starch?
     
  11. french fries

    french fries

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    Right so we're seeing a pattern here with the potatoes. So when you say it "absorbs" the salt, does that mean there's actually some kind of reaction that makes it not taste salty any longer? Does it somehow break down the salt and transform it into something else? I was never really paying attention in my chemistry classes.
     
  12. french fries

    french fries

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    Chris, I don't think that's it. Acids don't make the salt disappear, they just "balance it out". When seasoning a dish, I can balance out the salt with acid, or the acid with sugar, etc.. but that doesn't make them disappear. A good vinaigrette starts with vinegar and salt that you let dissolve before adding the mustard, oil etc..., and I always taste the salt on my salad, it never disappears.
     
  13. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    Salt is at it's chemical essence sodium chloride. When dissolved into solution the chemical bond loosens and it becomes ionic sodium and ionic chlorine. Sodium and chlorine in elemental state are incredibly unstable and reactive and as a result highly toxic. But in ionic form necessary for life. My chemistry teacher would therefore comment the difference between life and death is one electron. Ionic sodium/chlorine is very stable and it's very unlikely that they are involved in a chemical reaction with potatoes. Not to beat a dead horse (I never liked horses anyway) this is diffusion. Potatoes, high in water content. Rice or pasta if cooked in water or minimally salted broth also high in water content. All solutes move to equilibrium, always.
     
  14. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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     This reminds me of the time that a friend of mine was visiting me from greece.  She and I went out for dinner and she ordered a coca-cola.  The waiter brought her one of those huge 8 in tall glasses of soda.  She looked at the soda, then looked at the waiter and said "is this for drinking, or for bathing?"  I swear americans really overdo it on their soda.  This is the land of the Big Gulp!  And to digress even further I'm a little irked that the bill to tax soda didn't pass. 
     
  15. siduri

    siduri

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    To KK and FF

    yes, i do usually ask for no ice, after I've received my first gigantic glass of ice, and yes, it's waaaay too much of that sticky sweet stuff anyway and i rarely get tonic (resolutely from Boston, and "soda" has ice cream in it!) anyway, since it is so sickeningly sweet, but i mainly I only like to drink things fast, and all that ice gives me a headache or if i don't have a straw, it hurts my teeth!

    but we do digress.