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.


A glimpse of my kitchen said...

When there's too much salt in my food and it's a soup or stew or something similar, I put a potato (cut in two) in it, as that absorbs a lot of salt. Eggplant will work too.

Aunt B said...

@a glimpse of my kitchen: I've never tried eggplant for this. Thanks for the tip.

A glimpse of my kitchen said...

You're welcome!