Do You Need To Salt Tomatoes When Baking Them?

They're ripe, juicy, and officially in season! A deliciously vibrant fruit, tomatoes are a summer staple that should appear in salads, sandwiches, pasta, and maybe even a tart or two. Bon Appétit notes that intense color, firmness, and a blemish-free peel are good indicators of quality, but there is one thing that will make your tomato-eating experience even better — adding salt. While it sounds like a no-brainer to season fresh tomatoes, does this rule apply when baking?

Salt is essential when it comes to cuisine. According to FineCooking, it can enhance and balance taste, in addition to breaking down proteins to make food more flavorful and aromatic. Although many types of salt exist, Cook's Illustrated explains that the three most commonly used varieties include fine-grained table salt, coarse-grained kosher salt, and mineral-rich flakey sea salt. Each can be ideal for specific culinary processes like seasoning, marinating, or garnishing, but what is the purpose (if any) of salting when it comes to baking tomatoes?

Salt tomatoes to eliminate excess moisture and concentrate flavor

While a succulent beefsteak can be the ideal finish for a deli sandwich, this isn't always the case for drier dishes like pies, quiches, and tarts. It's for this reason that Epicurious recommends salting tomatoes to draw out the moisture that would otherwise result in wet and soggy baked goods.

Like the sugar used to macerate berries, salt works in similar ways when it comes to San Marzanos, Cherokee Purples, and the like. Based on a process of osmosis, Serious Eats explains that sodium chloride pulls liquids from an area of low concentration to an area of high concentration, which causes tomatoes to lose their juices and become less watery and richer with flavor.

Not sure how to start salting those heirlooms? After slicing, Southern Living advises laying the disks on paper towels and sprinkling lightly with salt. Simply leave them to rest for about 10 minutes before patting them dry. Then, they're ready to use for any baked tomato recipe. Let your imagination run wild!