salting - do you shake or sprinkle?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by siduri, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. siduri

    siduri

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    I couldn't find my salt shaker last night, the big one i use for cooking, and had to reach in the box of salt and sprinkle it on  the food. 

    I can't really regulate the amount that way and wondered what you guys do.  It would never occur to me to use my hand to grab the salt when the shaker is so convenient, but Italians usually don't even own a shaker (If i ask for some salt at someone's house i usually get their cardboard kilo salt box with the top torn off where they dip in to salt their food while cooking.) 

    For me (sorry, i said this before) i just visualize the thickness of the food (in pot or pan) and shake as if i were salting in my dish, and if it's a deep pot, i do it twice or three times, as if it were three dishes of food one on top of the other - which, in the end, it is.  I undersalt because of my own taste being for more heavily salted food than most like.  I taste of course.  Add along the way.  etc.  And then there's always a salt shaker on my table. 

    But i wonder if others do the same. 

    I find when i'm cooking my hands are always somewhat wet, and putting them in a salt box, i end up coating the whole finger in salt, not just where i pinch, and it clumps and it doesn't distribute as evenly over the food.  I then have to rinse them yet again after salting.  It's just annoying. 

    So how do you do it?

    Just an idle sunday-morning question, when i should be doing a dozen other things and want to stall. 
     
  2. ishbel

    ishbel

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    I have a salt pig for the Maldon sea salt I use when cooking. Here's a pic of the Emile Henry one I own (mine's blue)     http://www.saltandpepper.co.uk/cook_shop/Salt+and+Pepper/Salt+and+Pepper+Accessories/1595

      I have a couple of very small wooden spoons with long handles which I bought from a local craft shop.  The spoon contains just enough to salt water for vegetables etc.  I also have salt mills for the kitchen and dining room - both Peugeot. 
     
  3. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Funny you ask this, Siduri. This week I saw a (very good) cook advise to always sprinkle from your hand, it's the only way where you get really in touch with the amount of salt you use. Makes perfect sense to me. However, I always salt from the carboard box.

    Yesterday I had another cooking class and there we use saltmills, you know, the ones that look like peppermills and work the same way. These are really bad! You don't see at all how much you salt and there's a too big "spray" of salt coming out of these things.

    I am going to give it a try to salt from the hand; shake a bit of salt in one hand from the cardboard box and pinch-salt with the other. The remaining part will go over the shoulder like our supersticious grandmothers did.

    BTW, you're a bit confused, Siduri, it's still saturday; ..."Just an idle sunday-morning question..."  
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2011
  4. gonefishin

    gonefishin

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        Hi Siduri,

       I look at salting food while cooking, and finishing, as an intuitive process.  I never really gave much thought about having a salt shaker or not, in the house.  We have one salt shaker in our house, it is an el'cheapo picnic type salt shaker that contains fine iodized salt in it.

        When cooking I usually sprinkle, with my fingers, or sprinkle sea salt out of the box.  I've tried a good deal amount of salt in comparison tasting, and for taste and texture I prefer Fleur de Sel when finishing my food, which I sprinkle on with my fingers.

       Oh, the salt shaker with fine iodized salt?  For some reason I prefer fine iodized salt on popcorn.  This is the only place we used fine iodized salt or the salt shaker.  (all popcorn kernels are not created equal either!)

    [​IMG]

       Dan
     
  5. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    We don't even own a salt shaker.

    I agree fully with the cook Chris talks about. There's no way I could tell, day in and day out, how much salt I was adding except by feel.

    I keep my working salt in one of those spring-lidded containers, and add it to the food either with my fingers (usual) or by dipping a measuring spoon into it. If I've done my job right there's no need to add additional salt at the table.

    For those rare times that at-table salt is needed I just carry the main container over and sprinkle whatever is needed.
     
  6. siduri

    siduri

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    Yes, i am confused, Cris, i had yesterday off, and so for me today feels like sunday.  What a nice surprise every time i realize that - hey - i still have another day ahead of me! 

    Funny Ky and the others, i find the salt ALWAYS sticks to my hand, which is ALWAYS damp when i cook, (doesn't it do that to you?) and it doesn't (or i can't get it to) easily distribute - esp when it's wet - over the food. 

    But i have what is sold as a sugar shaker - about double the size of a salt shaker, with slightly bigger holes, where the trapani salt i usually use, or the supermarket salt i also use will actually come out of without blocking (I have to heat it in the oven first though, to dry it out, because italian salt never has that stuff in it to keep it from clumping). 

    The holes are spread out over a circle about an inch and a quarter or larger diameter so they distribute very well over the food. 

    I could not get a feel of the salt without it being shaken out like that - when i try to pinch it, it clumps. 

    If the shaker is not at hand, and the box has not been too mangled, i shake it down the box to the edge and then strew it directly from the box edge over the food, which works better than the fingers, though then there is always the risk that a false move and a huge amount comes out. 

    Now as for chefs (or anyone else) saying "The Only Way" to do something is their way, i have nothing to say about that.  There's always another way and sometimes someone comes up with one that is far superior and then that one becomes The Only Way.  Orthodoxy is always limiting.  It happens in every field.  We'd still be dragging stuff over the ground, because someone would have said that's the Only Way and all this newfangled wheel business is ridiculous and dangerous.  But that's another story.  I don;t think mine is better for everyone - just that it works for me - but teachers (and i'm guessing the chef referred to was a teacher of sorts), it seems to me, should be telling people to see if they have a better way. 

    Anyway, it's interesting to me to see that what i presumed was the usual way is very unusual. 
     
  7. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Interesting question.  When I visit my family in greece in the summer my mother and grandmother and I always end up in the kitchen together making one dish.  Each of us is responsible for part of the dish.  The seasoning however always ends up in confusion because each of us has our own way of salting things.  My Mom pours from a box, my grandmother has to dip into the box with her fingers and I'm out of my comfort zone either way because it's not my box or my kitchen and I have no clue how to do it there.  It's funny, we all have our own way of measuring salt and it all works.

    At home I have a little jar of rock salt that I use my fingertips to measure.  This is used for when seasoning a pot of soup, stew, boiling water, etc, anything that cooks in liquid.  Then I have a special salt shaker for my fine sea salt that is not for table use.  This I use to salt meat and other foods that will not be cooking in a liquid.  It has rather large holes and spreads fast. 

    We don't salt at the table because I'm a pretty good seasoner lol.
     
  8. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I never use a shaker for any spice as to many times I have seen the tops fall off  along with the spice or herb into the soup or sauce.. I shake into my hand(glove On) then to product
     
  9. granny smith

    granny smith

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    I do all of the above. If my hands are wet, I either use a salt shaker for small amounts or pour directly from the box, for larger amounts. If my hands are dry, I pour some into my palm and sprinkle it in with the other hand for small amounts or just dump the handful for larger amounts. 

    I don't have a salt shaker on the table, but there's one nearby for the rare occasion something needs further seasoning.
     
  10. panini

    panini

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    For generations we always had a stonelike cup with our prefered salt. The one we have now is from Chili and is carved from stone. Not expensive.

    Always put in one hand and salted with the other. As someone said, I don't like big containers of anything over the pot. Accidents happen and you can always add

    but hard to take away.

    pan

    When younger I always sprinkled,

    now I shake
     
  11. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I catch Hell from Siduri when ever I salt anything. I figure it's just easier to call Rome when I salt.............I sprinkle, when shes not looking,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,CBB
     
  12. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Here's what I use: 




    [​IMG]

    Basically just a small glass dish full of kosher salt. Easy to grab a pinch or two as one goes along. Main problem is that it is often close to my coffee grinder ( half a pinch goes into the press with the coffee ) and it can get black flecks of coffee in it. I think my wife still thinks those black specks could be bugs!

    mjb.
     
  13. siduri

    siduri

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
     
    Don't worry, chefbilly, it's hard to oversalt for me. 
     
  14. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    Like Ishbel, I have a salt pig> I like to sprinkle as I feel I hae more control of the amount of salt that gets into the meal.  I also keep one of those chinese soup spoons in the pig for salting cooking water, i.e. where I need a larger quantities.  We have a salt shaker and a pepper grinder on our dinner table in case I got it wrong, or we hae someone that likes it really salty.

    As for wet hands - what are tea towels for?  Or an apron? Or the seat of your pants heh /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif

    I'm with you about finding it annoying to wash and dry hands all the time, so I tend to keep something close at hand (pun intended) to keep them dry.  Usually oa teatowel over my left shoulder.  Works for me.
     
  15. granny smith

    granny smith

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    I dry my hands, but they never seem to get really dry. They stay just damp enough for salt to stick to.
     
  16. breadmaker man

    breadmaker man

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    I agree with this. I always pinch it between thumb and forefinger before adding.
     
  17. indianwells

    indianwells

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    I have a large salt pig next to the stove that holds about 2 boxes of Maldon. I haven't got a shaker for the kitchen or the table. I sprinkle and taste along the way. If my hands are damp I dry them.
     
  18. jameserickson80

    jameserickson80

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    For me, the best way to ensure the amount of salt to put on food is to sprinkle it with your hands. Then let it simmer for a few minutes then taste it.
     
  19. siduri

    siduri

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    I'm always drying them on every cloth available (apron, towel, pants, the nearest person passing by, etc) but i cook fast and move fast and don't have the patience to dry so carefully that  the salt won;t stick and your skin only needs to be damp to make salt stick.  Also as one who tends to chew my fingers and am subject to paper cuts etc, the salt stings every time i touch it, maybe that's another reason. 

    But what i find interesting is that i can judge exactly with a shaker how much salt is going on the food, it comes out wide rather than in a small stream from the fingers and i just assumed everyone did it that way.  And from what sticks to my fingers, (which i then have to rinse off, and again dry yet again) i could fill a salt shaker in a couple of days! all that goes to waste.  

    But that would all be acceptable if i felt i had better control with my hands than with my large salt shaker.  But with the shaker I can see it distribute and can imagine how it will taste much better than with a pinch. 

    Of course if you try to use one of those tiny table salt shakers with small holes, that's a whole 'nothter story- small shakers are useless even as table decoration. 
     
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2011
  20. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    to always sprinkle from your hand, it's the only way where you get really in touch with the amount of salt you use.

    This sort of dogmatism really turns me off. There are a half dozen ways of achieving any particular kitchen task. The "right" one is the one that works best for you.

    Now I happen to be a hand-sprinkler. And personally agree with that observation. But that doesn't make my way better nor worse than Siduri's. Especially for something as imprecise as adding salt to a dish.

    i find the salt ALWAYS sticks to my hand, which is ALWAYS damp when i cook, (doesn't it do that to you?)

    Actually, it doesn't. Although I wash my hands often while cooking I also dry them well. Not because of salt or anything like that. I'm just bothered by the idea of picking up a knife with wet hands. Always seems to me that that's an accident waiting to happen.