Several items are in just about everyone’s kitchen and pantry — spices, milk, flour, sugar, and of course salt and pepper. Of all those staples, salt is the one that is on virtually every dinner table in every house and every restaurant around the globe. Whether you add it to a recipe for your meal or use it to add zest to food at your table — or both! — salt is used by practically every chef — and every consumer — in the world.
Salt tastes good, and it can make almost any savory dish sing. It makes almost everything taste better by bringing out all the flavors in a meal, and adding it to food at your table enhances the flavors even more. In fact, although salt is common and inexpensive, there is no spice or seasoning that can replace it. From soup to nuts, salt is a secret weapon that makes food taste fabulous. But salt is a lot more versatile than most folks realize — there are plenty of uses for salt that go far beyond food and flavor.
Some argue that consuming too much salt isn’t good for your heart and blood pressure, but in truth, it’s a mineral that’s vital to your well being. Used wisely, salt can actually be good for your health, and it’s also good for a whole variety of other things, too. Below are 10 uses for salt you may find surprising, and very helpful:
1) Are Your Eggs Still Fresh?
Ever wonder whether those eggs in the carton in your fridge are still good? There’s an easy way to find out — fill a bowl or other container with cold water. Add about 2 to 6 tablespoons of salt to the bowl. Stir well. Put the egg in the bowl — if it sinks to the bottom, it’s fresh! If not, best to throw it out, as it’s likely too far past its expiration date.
The theory behind this is that once an egg starts to go off, its shell weakens and more oxygen seeps through it. The more air, in between the egg’s membrane and shell, the more likely it is the egg will float, and that’s how you can tell it’s probably best to toss it.
2) Salt Enhances Food’s Colors
Of course, you know that salt makes food taste wonderful. But did you know it also brings out food’s colors? It does! This is one of the most important uses of salt.
Salt makes the appearance of many foods more attractive, because it brings out their color, like hot dogs, bacon, and other cured meats. Salt also makes bread crusts more golden in appearance, because it keeps sugar from dissipating in the dough, and by enhancing the caramelization process.
3) Foods Don’t Brown
The browning process is natural, a result of the chemical reaction that occurs when you cut into something, like a loaf of bread. However, as you well know, as soon as you do that the bread or other food begins to turn, usually going grey or brown. This also affects everything from the nutrients in the dish to odor and flavor. And of course, it just looks yucky — who wants to take a bite of a brown-orange or mango? Nobody! That’s why apples go uneaten in so many children’s lunches!
But there is a way to lessen browning on fruit. Plunge the cut fruit into a container of salt and water — about half a teaspoon of salt to every cup of water. Leave it there for about 10 minutes. You can wash away the salty residue before serving the fruit, and once you do, the fruit is noticeably less brown. This saves money and helps you use up the fruit in your kitchen. It’s one of the uses of salt that’s great for the budget-minded.
4) Save The Cheese!
Nobody likes to look at or taste moldy cheese — we get it! It carries all kinds of bacteria that may cause illnesses like food poisoning. But you can spare your cheese a moldy fate by keeping it in the fridge’s proper drawer, and by using a pinch of salt.
Let’s say you bought a large wedge of cheese because it was on sale at a bargain price — how could you resist? If you have more than you can use no matter how many inventive recipes you make, here’s the thing to do: soak a light cloth, maybe a tea towel, in saltwater. Wring it out and dry it, of course, then wrap up the leftover cheese and store it the way you usually would. It will keep in the fridge for a week or more. This use of salt really helps cheese last.
5) Milk Stays Fresh
Milk turns very quickly, and that can be incredibly frustrating. Just when you need a cup for a new recipe, you discover the milk has gone off. But there’s a method for keeping milk really fresh — did you guess it involves salt?
If you add a wee pinch of salt to your carton of milk the moment you open it, the milk will stay good for more than a week past its expiration date — guaranteed. Of course, the salt goes straight to the bottom of the milk container, so be sure to shake it up so it dissolves in the milk evenly. And guess what — you won’t even know it’s there, not by flavor and by appearance!
6) Make Coffee Fabulous
Everyone loves a good cup of coffee first thing each morning, and some folks add a little cream and sugar to make it taste sweet. However, lots of folks add a pinch of salt when they’re brewing it because it makes the coffee a lot less bitter. Scientists agree — the theory of using salt to reduce bitterness is well-founded. This is a less well-known use of salt, but ask anyone who does it and they’ll agree — a pinch of salt makes the coffee go down smoothly.
What to do, you ask? Simple! Just a pinch of salt added to the grounds before brewing does the trick. A few grains between your thumb and forefinger are enough, but if you’re an exacting type, here’s a ratio: one-quarter teaspoon of kosher salt for every six tablespoons of coffee.
7) Peeling Eggs Is A Breeze
You’ve tried a dozen different methods for hard boiling the perfect egg, and just as many times you’ve ended up tossing the egg because bits of shell won’t peel off, or too much egg comes off with it, and the egg winds up a jagged, yucky mess. Sound familiar? But another of the uses of salt fixes this problem immediately.
Instead of using a hit-and-mostly-miss approach, hard boil your eggs using a wee bit of salt. Here’s what you do: Add a tablespoon of salt to cold water, enough to cover the eggs in the pot. Bring it to a boil, then leave the eggs there for 10 minutes. Set the timer, and once it goes remove the pot from the stove, and run the eggs under cold water. Don’t attempt to peel them before they’re totally cool, but when they are, peel away! That wee bit of salt soaks through the shells and helps the eggs shrink within, so to speak. It makes peeling a breeze, you’ll see.
8) Foul Odors Vanish
You may not realize it, but your nose is one of nature’s best smell detectors! No matter its shape or size, delicate or enormous, your nose is your best friend when it comes to sussing out foul and strong smells. And boy, does your nose hate it when awful odors hang around, whether it’s in the kitchen or somewhere else in your home.
You’ll probably be surprised to learn that removing bad odors is easy with a dose of salt. Let’s say your garbage pail has an awful smell from a week’s worth of trash, like fruit rinds, coffee grinds, leftovers, and other detritus. Put about half a cup of salt down your garbage chute, or wash out your garbage pail with a mixture of salt and warm water. Soon it will be fresh as a daisy! And if you love cooking seafood but hate the odors that linger on your hands after preparing it, there’s another use of salt ready to remedy the situation: just take a wedge of lemon, dip it in salt and rub it on your fingers. Voila! Smelly fish odors are gone!
9) Get Your Cutting Board Clean
Keeping your cutting board clean and sterile is an absolute must. But wooden cutting boards can’t be put in dishwashers safely because of the high temperature. What to do?
Just scatter some coarsely ground salt on your cutting board and, using the inside face of a half lemon, scrub the board. Squeeze a little lemon juice on it as you work. Leave for about five minutes, scrape off the excess lemon, rinse and toss out the lemon. Now your cutting board is clean, sterile and smells nice and lemony fresh.
10) Chill Beverages Quickly
Oops! You forgot to put drinks on ice and friends and family will be at your house soon. Now what? Nobody wants a lukewarm drink at a get-together — is there any faster way to kill a party vibe? You’ve got to get those drinks chilled in time to serve your guests so they’ll enjoy libations at the right temperature.
Believe it or not, salt is your helpmate in these circumstances too. Any ice-packed cooler can be turbocharged by adding salt — good, old-fashioned table salt. Adding a few handfuls, maybe a cup, overall (no need to measure exactly) lowers the freezing temperature of the ice. Pour it on and mix it up — that’s it. The ice melts are a little, and then adheres to the bottles and cans in the cooler and gets them colder more quickly. Amazing, right? Trust us on this — it works really well!
These are 10 terrific uses of salt for your home, not just in the kitchen, but in other rooms, too.
Kosher or table salt; finely ground or coarse sea salt (with fine salt and pepper mills) — salt gets rid of odors, chills drinks more quickly, disinfects, and all the other wonderful things we’ve just mentioned. Post this list on your fridge or keep it handy in your phone — the next time you have a hosting emergency, or a bad odor, you’ll know just what to do.
Salt isn’t just for the table anymore!