How to fix a dish if you've added too much salt

Be careful not to overseason slow-cooked dishes.
Be careful not to overseason slow-cooked dishes. Photo: William Meppem

What happens if I add too much salt to my cooking? M. Kennedy

If you mean that you are consistently cooking and eating very salty food then you will probably die, most likely from cardiovascular disease. See your doctor.

Brain Food by Richard Cornish.
Brain Food by Richard Cornish. 

If you have accidently overseasoned a dish, however, then there is a way of remedying the situation. I remember my grandmother in her later years suffering from unsteady hands and her shaking sent a huge tablespoon of Saxa salt into her lamb chop stew.

Realising her error, she placed a peeled potato into the stew claiming the potato would soak up the salt. As much as I loved my grandmother, she was gullible. This does not work.

Salty food tastes salty because the ratio of salt to the rest of the food is too high. The only way to make the dish less salty is to add more food.

It could be the addition of more unsalted stock to a soup, loads more vegetables to stew or meat to a braise. In the case of the latter two, you might want to brown the chopped veg and cut meat before adding to the pot.

One way of avoiding overseasoning food is to season as you go and constantly taste the dish. Professional chefs keep a spoon in their back pocket so they can taste their food as they cook it.

Remember that it is easy to overseason slow-cooked dishes because as they reduce in volume the ratio of salt to food increases – salt doesn't blow away with the steam.

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Sourdough bread is made up of wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria.

Sourdough bread is made up of wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria. Photo: Narelle Autio

I bought sourdough from the supermarket. It tasted different and it made my tummy sore. L. Atkinson

Sourdough bread should be made from a sourdough levain or sourdough mother that is made up of lots of different wild yeasts and lactic acid bacteria.

At present there is nothing stopping manufacturers making a loaf of bread with normal industrial yeast, adding some lactic acid to it and calling it a sourdough. And it does happen.

It is a repugnant practice akin to wrapping extruded industrial cheese in foil and calling it "cheddar".

The slow process that real sourdoughs undergo creates a bread that, for some, is easier to digest.

I have read research papers that describe how "San Francisco" sourdoughs can be tolerated by gluten-intolerant people because some harmful compounds associated with the protein have had a chance to break down and the fermentable carbohydrates have been used up in the fermentation – a gross simplification but we have so little space here.

You could have been eating industrial bread that had been artificially "soured", which may be why you had a problem with your gut. (It is OK to say "gut" these days.)

Letters and feedback

"I loved the recent discussion on making perfect creamy scrambled eggs," C. Johnston writes. "I've found mine to be best when stirred with my spurtle." (A traditional wooden porridge stick.)

Send your vexing culinary conundrums to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au or tweet to @Foodcornish