Thursday 30 September 2021

Over-Salted Food? Here's What To Do About It


The other day, my friend Donna told me she was mad at herself.  She'd made a huge batch of tomato soup and, because she was really tired, she'd accidentally over-salted it.  We've all done this at one time or another, right?  It's so easy to do: A moment's inattention or a misread recipe and there you are.

The last time I over-salted a batch of soup I went on Pinterest in search of solutions. I found lots of ideas there, some of them quite outlandish. The one that made the most sense to me was adding potatoes, the idea being that the potatoes would absorb some of the extra salt as they cooked. I tried it. Maybe I didn't put in enough potatoes, but the potatoes alone didn't fix the problem. 

If I'm honest, I already knew what needed to be done with the soup, I just didn't want to do it. I could add more ingredients until I arrived at a balance I liked, or I could use that salty soup to season other dishes. I didn't want to be eating soup for days and days so I opted for the second choice.  

I strained out the veggies and refrigerated them then ladled the liquid into small jars and froze it.  

I used the veggies in a cottage pie and, infused into the pie's gravy, their extra salt seasoned the entire dish. It turned out really well.  

Over the following weeks, I used the frozen liquid from the soup to cook rice and to poach chicken.  I used the poaching liquid from the chicken, diluted with some unsalted veggie stock, to make a new soup.

Because I usually don't realize my mistake until after I take them out of the oven, finding a way to use over-salted baked goods can be challenging.

If I've added too much salt to bread or biscuits, I usually reduce them to crumbs in my food processor. I use the crumbs as breading or as a topping for casseroles or gratins.  

If I over-salt a batch of pastry and realize my mistake before I've put it in the oven I'll roll it out into a sheet, dock it, score it into squares, brush it with an egg wash, and bake it without a filling. Because I don't add sugar to my pastry dough, I can either use baked pastry sheet for crackers or, if proves too salty for that, I can process it into crumbs as mentioned above. Unfortunately, if I've made a pie with that pastry before realizing my mistake, the best I can do is save the filling. The crust is, sadly, destined for the compost bin.

If a sweet baked good is too salty I often look to either caramel or chocolate to help restore balance.  I'll portion out some cooked fruit and/or ice cream, top it with a caramel or chocolate sauce, and then crumble my oversalted muffins, cake, or cookies over the dish. 

Dealing with an excess of salt in pie filling or pudding is more problematic. Really, the only thing you can do with the pudding is set it aside, make another - unsalted - batch and mix the two together. 

Salty pie filling is much the same. Scoop it out of the pie crust into a bowl, cook a second batch of pie filling on the stove top with no salt at all, and then mix the two together.  You can use the adjusted filling to make new pies but if you do that, having been cooked twice, the filling will have less texture. I prefer to use the amended pie filling between layers in a cake, or as the fruit layer in a trifle, or to mix it into my breakfast oatmeal over the course of several days. You can also fold it into a muffin batter if you first cut the fruit into smaller pieces.

I hope some of these ideas are helpful to you. I'm always pleased to learn new ways of reducing food waste so if you have a remedy for over-salted food not mentioned here, please feel free to share it in the comments. I'll look forward to reading your suggestions.

What's In A Necktie? Advice on Upcycling


I love Pinterest. It allows me to satisfy my inner hoarder without actually accumulating objects.  lol!  It's also my go-to search engine for creative ideas.

I watch Pinterest for upcycling ideas but I'm afraid that when it comes to upcycling neckties the offerings are rather disappointing.  Almost every project uses the ties in their finished form and, other than joining them together, little alteration is made. Neckties are made up of several layers of fabric and a layer of interfacing, making an assemblage of unaltered ties quite heavy and rather inflexible. 

Neckties are constructed in a standard form, with two or more long narrow pieces of bias cut fabric joined to make a tapered strip between 5-1/2 feet and 6 feet long (168 cm and189 cm) with points at either end. Many ties are narrowest at their mid-point, flaring in both directions, wider at the end that will make the front of the tie and less wide at the other end. The outer fabric of the tie is folded, meeting at the center of the reverse side of the tie and tacked into place with a series of long stitches. 

Good quality ties are usually made from silk, but in some cases also from very fine woven tartan or textured woolen knits. Less expensive ties are often made of polyester. It's best to check the labels before making your purchase, leaving the polyester ties behind for someone else to use.

If you open up a tie along its center seam, you'll find a facing at each pointed end and a woven interfacing in the dimensions of the finished tie laid along the center of the fabric.  The outer fabric is 2-1/2 to 3 times wider than the finished tie. You can see how it has been folded over the interfacing. 

If you remove the facings and interfacing and then press the outer fabric, you end up with a good sized piece of useable, fine quality fabric. 

Because necktie fabric is cut on the bias, double fold bias tape is the easiest way to make use of it, and very practical, too. The lightweight silk used to make neckties is admirably suited for bias tape. The finished tape is very flexible and has enough stretch to form around curved seams without making notches or folds. 

I also piece salvaged necktie fabric into yardages and use them to make linings for jackets and purses.

If you choose to make linings from pieced necktie fabrics, you'll need to allow sufficient yardage to cut your pieces on the straight grain.  The fabric grain crosses the diagonal of necktie fabric pieces as indicated by the ruler in this picture. You'll need to stagger your tie fabric pieces diagonally when assembling them, to accommodate the shapes of the lining pieces you plan to cut.

I hope this post will help you consider neckties in a new way next time you're out thrifting. Silk yardages can be very expensive while neckties can be purchased for a dollar or two at thrift shops. Even though it takes the fabric from several ties to make a metre of lining fabric you will still have spent significantly less than you would buying new fabric, and you'll be giving something once discarded a new lease on life.

If you have any questions about making bias tape or assembling the salvaged fabric into larger pieced yardages, please share them in the comments.  I'll do my best to address them for you in future posts.