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How to Fix Excess Salt

super moist zucchini & tuna salad-2

I often get asked where I get the ideas for my recipes and blog posts. And the truth is I find inspiration pretty much everywhere… magazines, restaurants, online, my veggie garden, when I’m looking in my fridge…

But one of my favourite places is the Stonesoup by request survey I set up to capture your questions or ideas for future blog posts.

It’s been a while since I took a request, so today I have a great one for you…

“How do you balance out saltiness? I liked your post on vinegar, and would like more of the food “sciency” posts!”
Marilen

For me, seasoning is the most important skill when it comes to making your meals taste delicious.

I’ve already written about ‘How to Season to Taste‘ and the ‘2 Most Common Seasoning Mistakes‘. If you need help with seasoning in general, they would be great places to visit.

But what happens when you add too much salt?

This isn’t a cooking mistake I make often. Basically, over salting is very difficult to rectify so I’m paranoid about not adding too much.

I always err on the side of under seasoning and have a jar of salt at the table for everyone to do the ‘fine tuning’ themselves.

But on the odd occasion I find myself with an excess salt situation, there is only one reliable method I turn to…

Dilution.

If it’s a soup, sauce or casserole that contains liquid you can easily add some water or other liquid to help spread the salt out. In other cases, you can dilute by adding other low salt ingredients.

For example, if you have over seasoned the salad below, you could toss in some extra zucchini or other raw veg to balance things out. Or if there’s too much salt in your bolognese sauce serve with extra unsalted pasta.

What about adding a potato?

There’s an old wives tale that adding a raw potato will ‘soak up the salt’. While it will absorb some liquid (including some salt), it’s not going to preferentially soak up the salt.

What about adding lemon or other acid?

If you google ‘fix oversalting’ most of the articles that come up talk about flavour balance and adding some acid such as lemon juice or vinegar to ‘balance’ out the saltiness. This is a high risk proposition because salt and acid tend to enhance each other.

There are some times when adding a little acid can help but more often it’s going to make things worse. So be very careful.

What about adding sugar?

It’s true that sugar and salt balance each other out. Which is why salted caramel is so delicious.

If you have a slight salt imbalance, a pinch of sugar can help. However if you’re at the stage where your dish just tastes super salty, adding enough sugar to balance is only going to make it taste really sweet and weird. I’ve tried this years ago with an over salted bolognese and ended up having to throw it out.

That’s why I stick to dilution.

super moist zucchini & tuna salad-2

Super Moist Zucchini & Tuna Salad

I’ve been really getting into grated raw zucchini as an ingredient. I love the mild ‘greenish’ flavour but the best part is all the moisture in the zucchini keeps your salad or whatever lovely and moist. My Irishman had this salad for lunch at work yesterday and he was raving about it so much he took a photo and sent it to me. High praise indeed!

enough for 1
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 small zucchini
1 medium can tuna

1. Combine lemon with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a medium bowl. Season.

2. Grate zucchini using your food processor or a box grater.

3. Toss zucchini in the dressing along with the tuna.

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Variations

vegetarian – replace tuna with poached eggs or pan fried halloumi or crumbled salty feta.

vegan – replace tuna with chunks of avocado and a handful of almonds.

carnivore – replace tuna with shredded BBQ chicken or sliced cooked sausages.

hot! – use tuna in chilli oil

fresh fish – pan fry tuna steaks or other fish fillets and serve with the salad.

different veg – use carrots, beets or cauliflower or a combination of any of the above.

no grater – finely slice the zucchini into strips using a veg peeler or mandoline then slice the strips into smaller slivers.

herby – feel free to toss in some flat leaf parsley, basil or mint.

With love,
Jules x
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{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Maryea {happy healthy mama} 25 November, 2014, 9:30 pm

    Over-salting is a nightmare. I’m like you and tend to err on the side of caution because it’s so tough to correct. I agree that dilution is your only hope!

    • jules 2 December, 2014, 10:25 am

      Nightmare is a great way to describe it Maryea!
      Glad to her you’re a fan of dilution as well :)
      Jx

  • Ana 26 November, 2014, 10:02 pm

    Hi Jules,

    Just a quick question: Did you use tuna with or without oil?

    Thank you, Ana

    • jules 2 December, 2014, 10:25 am

      I always use tuna in oil Ana because I prefer the texture but you could use either.
      Jx

  • Susan 24 October, 2016, 3:29 am

    Lovely, lovely — Just love that dilution idea for my very very salty marinara… hope it fixes things up.

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