Ina Garten's Better-Safe-Than-Sorry Rule For Salting Dishes

Salt is probably the most important seasoning known to mankind. It makes things delicious by bringing out and enhancing the flavor of some of our favorite foods. Per Food Network, Ina Garten has called it "the single most important ingredient in cooking." In fact, there's one kosher salt Garten hinges every recipe on: Diamond Crystal. However, adding this essential ingredient to a dish comes with its challenges. If you use too much, you will have people gasping and grabbing water. And if you don't add enough, your critics may leave the table without finishing what's on their plate. However, when you get the salt ratio just right and people are licking their plates clean, that's when you know you've achieved sodium success.

How can you achieve this every time? Garten suggests using a batch salting method. This means she takes a small portion of whatever she is cooking and adds some salt to determine the appropriate amount. According to Kitchn, Garten does this with purpose, writing in her "Cook Like a Pro" cookbook, "That way I can add salt slowly and carefully without ruining the whole dish."

Greater control

Garten's technique allows for greater control over the saltiness of whatever you are cooking because you will be able to discern how salty the dish is to begin with based on its ingredients. When making foods with items like soy sauce, Worcestershire, chicken stock, tomato sauces, and even brines, there will be a natural saltiness to the recipe. Batch salting lets your mouth understand how added salt will impact and impart a savory taste to the overall dish.

Salting in small batches also allows you to gradually adjust the amount as needed. Garten's method helps to avoid adding too much salt from the get-go. As the old saying goes, it's easier to add than to remove. But it is also important to remember that as foods heat up, they absorb salt more readily. So, if you batch salt your foods as they cook, do so well before they are finished.