The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread without salt?

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Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Bread without salt?

I never cook anything with salt.  As far as I am concerned, salt is an at-the-table addition.  One uses far less of it when it is on the surface instead of being inside.

However, there are cases where I suspect that there is a chemistry reason to cook with salt.

Does anyone know if bread needs salt for reasons other than taste/flavor?

 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

Salt does much more than add flavor for bread. King Arthur Flour has a run down here.

isand66's picture
isand66

There is usually only about 1.5 to 2% of your flour weight in salt.  That little amount is not going to hurt you and makes a huge difference in the taste not to mention the development of the dough.

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

But I bet you wouldn't like it. Try searching for Tuscan breads and you may find then. 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I just want to know what it dies that I many manipulate it to my taste.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I have been to the KA site but found it lacking as with many other cooking sites.

Once again, I see a run of information without any substantiation.  The King Arthur Flour web site is typical in saying a lot without saying anything.  Maybe someone can fill in some intelligence in what they are saying.

"It makes a huge difference in taste".  Ok, what difference?  I made croissants with out salt but then sprinkled a half dozen grains on them before baking.  I was told that there was a lot of salt in them. They were pleasantly surprised when I told them what I had done. So in that, no it did not make any difference in taste when I did not put salt in the dough.

OTOH, Aside from taste of salt, does it make any difference in the structure of the dough? Does it chemically change the properties of yeast, flour, and "yeast fart" (beer flavor) ?

In the suggested King Arthur link, they make claims that salt "provides flavor" 
No, salt has no flavor, it has taste. Trace minerals in salt give it flavor but no discussion is there to suggest talk about trace minerals.

Does salt actually increase the fermentation flavor?  I have yet to see this in writing not have proven it myself.  Would my croissants have had more beer flavor had I added the salt?  I would think that someone experienced in bread might be able to guide me on this as I experiment.

"Salt has a retarding effect on the yeast."  Again, does this mean that more rise time would be needed if one wanted to reduce salt?  It also says "If there is no salt, the yeast will ferment too quickly." Unfortunately they say nothing of what the result is if it does ferments "too quickly".  Am I going to get pinned across the room against the wall when I open the oven as it did for Lucy?

Also "...we should note that a careful usage of yeast, control of dough temperature, and the type, maturity, and amount of preferment used are better tools for fermentation control." and then all they say is "Salt quantity, as we have noted, should stay within the 1.8–2% range."

This is all airy persiflage as far as I am concerned.  With each statement they profess, I am stuck saying "Well, ... To what result?"  So what if it changes the fermentation time? What happens if it does?  This is not uncommon for a lot of discussion like this.

Can any one here fill me in about the results in tinkering with the amount of salt in bread?

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

that means it slows down fermentation. Without the salt (which inhibits yeast activity because it robs the yeasts of water) the dough ferments quickly. That in turn reduces flavor. Like when you ferment at 90 degrees. Too warm too fast and too flavorless. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

And if you like the results, that is all that matters. As for the croissants, I assume it was unsalted butter you used?  If not, that would help explain why they were salty. 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I added no salt to the recipe.

I believe she was reacting to the attack of the very few grains of salt that met the tongue in force and thought that the entire croissant had that much salt.  Granted, they were very small croissants.....

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

If you added salt to the dough you probably wouldn't have had the complaint.  I don't think you salt bread to taste and maybe this is why. 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

She was pleasantly surprised that she could eat something that the thought was high in salt yet actually consumed very little.  I am thinking that if I added it to the dough then i would have had to add much more than i did by adding it tot he top instead to have the same result.

So far, when it comes to changing the amount of salt, I see no support that it changes the flavor/aroma of bread other than getting a salty result or not.

Now, does salt causing a change in rise times or texture change the aroma of bread?

 

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I think if you are baking for your own consumption and enjoyment and you are happy without salt I would say bake without salt.  If on the other hand you are trying to sell your baked goods you will have to take into consideration what tastes your customers expect and want.

I have never purposely baked bread with out salt but when I have forgotten to add salt I found the bread to be flat and the crust did not colour properly.   I don't think we ate more than a slice.

Gerhard

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

It is really not a point of wanting more or less salt.  I am exploring the consequences of higher or lower salt amounts used.

If salt taste is the only factor, I wonder if a customer would care about where/how the salt was there as long as the perception of salt was present.  Providing the bread flavor/aroma was the same, I am figuring that a few grains of salt on the top could replace much larger quantity of salt in the recipe as I discovered with my croissants.

Granted, I only have volunteer consumers of my bread experiments but if salt on top is as good, if not better than salt within, would that not be preferred?

 

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Just bake your bread without salt. If you don't hate it, don't add salt. most people won't enjoy it, but that is no reason to add the salt if you are the one eating it.  Heck, they sell unsalted potato chips and unsalted pretzels. Many people find them tasteless. But as with many things, taste is acquired. 

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

Yes, it does change the aroma.

If you're interested in the science behind baking than I heartily recommend food scientist Paula Figoni's 'How Baking Works'. In the chapter on the sensory properties of food she says:

"Salt and sugar both affect the perception of smells, probably by changing the rate at which small molecules evaporate. Sometimes it takes only a small amount of salt or sugar to change and improve the aroma and overall flavor of food products."

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

If you ever wondered what would happen if you added or left out one egg from a cake recipe, for example,  then here you will find the answers in easy to understand terms.

Unfortunately I lost the book but can guarantee that I will find it as soon as I purchase a new one.  (-:

 

Jon OBrien's picture
Jon OBrien

Guaranteed, best way to find anything.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

Obviously, the KA site isn't meant to be a scientific treatise. I assumed you were just looking for a general list of the things salt does. I'm not sure where to find the info you want, possibly the book "Bread Science" has it.

As far as flavor, salt is universally recognize to enhance the flavor of pretty much any food. At appropriate amounts it doesn't taste salty in food, it just makes it taste more like whatever it is. It's pretty easy to observe that effect yourself, but the contrast is most stark with fairly plain dishes. I'm always amazed when I make chicken broth how little flavor there is before seasoning with salt.

Generally, breads that go from mixing to oven in 3 hours or less will have poor taste and not keep well. Longer fermentation produces better tasting bread, since most of the flavor components of bread come from the activity of bacteria producing lactic and acetic acid. Those bacteria take longer than yeast to get going. Up to a point, the acid produced by the bacteria give flavor and extra strength to the dough, but too much acid will weaken the gluten and not taste that good. The gluten can also be overstretched and break if too much gas is produced from the yeast, collapsing the loaf. Lastly, if too many of the sugars in the starch are eaten by the bacteria and yeast, the crust won't brown properly and flavor will also suffer. So all those factors have to balance out and fit into whatever schedule/timing the baker needs it to happen.

Small changes in the amount of salt probably won't have much of an effect, though, say going from 2% to 1.8%. Also in breads containing more than around 12% sugar, salt is often reduced as sugar slows fermentation as well.

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

There is a Tuscan bread which is salt free.  David Esq. alluded to it in his post.  The bread is used with salty cheeses and in bread soup to which salt is added.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

the Tuscan bread?   Bite for bite you would go from some salt to none and I would like this.  Would the beer taste in the bread itself or are we only talking about the taste of salt?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

without it, your recipe can be fast or slow but rarely the same.  Small changes or variations at the beginning of your bread making method can be exaggerated (good or bad) so that eventually rise times will change from one batch to another.  Salt adds stability, it regulates the rate of yeast growth.  It tightens protein links, gluten bonds in the dough.  This stability leads to more predictable rise times even with slight changes in temp, hydration and whole grain flours. 

If this is a continuation of the pizza thread then put a low amount of salt in your pizza dough and let it ferment well but still has some spring and elasticity left in it.  Then make your pizza, you don't have to be so concerned that it won't rise like a bread because it's for pizza.  Get as close to over-proofing as you dare.  Then you got your beer flavour.

 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Since I do not make bread with any regularity, if I was not concerned about rise times, would any of this affect the beer aroma in bread?  How does tight, or loose protein links or gluten bond affect the taste/aroma of bread?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

or loosely held molecules affecting your perception of taste?  

Tightness of protein molecules will affect the way gas is trapped inside the dough.  After water is absorbed into flour, proteins begin bonding with each other.  To develop these bonds some folding or kneading (continued mixing) is done. Fermentation begins with the presence of yeast.  The fermentation can range from fast to slow and is influenced by the number of yeast cells, what they are consuming, and various environmental factors.  This is a natural decomposing process of wetting flour.  

As you know, we use this jumble of chemical changes including decomposition in bread making.  Protein bonds are important because that is the glue that holds our dough together.  Loose bonds allow for gas to escape and the breakdown of more protein whereas tighter bonds trap gas resulting in a food that rises and is not as compact.  We want fermentation, we want to trap gas, we want something that tastes good and is pleasant to look at.  I will add to that, I want a bread dough that has a long wet time (slow fermentation) and I want more nutrients.  Your requirements may vary from mine.

Some of us striving toward more flavour get too close to over-proving the dough.  The fermentation has loosened the protein bonds, gas escapes, deflation.  It can happen that the yeast have run so low on available food that they can no longer produce enough gas to keep the dough risen.   A compromise has to be met between flavour and/or rise,  or other solutions to bring out desired flavours without getting too close to the total deterioration of the dough.  

To compare one dough to another when tweaking a recipe,  it is important to predict when the dough has reached the point to bake it.  Salt then has it's role.  When salt tightens protein bonds it resists decomposition while still letting the yeast produce gas.  A larger working window is created increasing the chance of a successful bread.  It's about Control.  Control of fermentation letting the yeast feed on and attack the dough deteriorating to a certain degree without letting it fall apart into something we can no longer bake and call bread.  When that happens (why waste it, it happens) let it go further and become beer.  Or used that yeast culture to inoculate more flour and water (dough) and wait for the opportunity again to make and bake bread.

Rise times are important if you have other things to do than to constantly sit with your dough waiting for the opportune time to bake it.  You want to predict with some degree when to turn on the oven to bake.  Bake when you think you have the most flavour and just before enough gas is trapped for your expectations.  You will often see written "it over-proofed and went flat, but it was delicious!"  

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I am going to have to read it a few times to let it sink in.
(:

 

 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

...When that happens (why waste it,...   

should read:   ... When over-proofing happens (why waste it,...

I use salt as a tool.  If I want to slow down fermentation's affects on protein bonds, I add it right away or soon after hydrating the flour.   If I want to let the yeast and byproducts chew on my protein bonds (one way to soften a high gluten flour)  I add it delayed.    Add it too late into fermentation and it won't do much good in preserving the integrity of the dough (protein bonds) so don't expect more handling time or a reduction in "ripping dough."  

For most practical purposes adding salt to sourdoughs starters is done when environmental conditions are too helpful toward fermentation. Tropics and lack of refrigeration.  I'll let you know how that works out for me.  I'm heading for a jungle soon.  

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm Rosey in my own version of "Amazon Queen!"   

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

therefore sweet foods taste sweeter. Salt does not increase flavor. It increases the perception of it by reducing a competitive force.  This is how it "releases the flavor of food".  Some could argue that there is no difference between the two.  My quest is to know how salt, changes the chemistry of food and in bread, I guess that this is all in the fermentation.  That said, let's remove the taste of salt from the discussion.

Low salt, fast fermentation: Does it follow that fast fermentation means more fermentation/minute causing less rise time needed?  How does this affect the beer flavor in bread?

High Salt, Slow fermentation: Does it follow that slow fermentation, means less fermentation/minute causing more rise time needed? How does this affect the beer flavor in bread?

Can fast fermentation in a short rise time be the same as slow fermentation in a longer rise time?

 

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

But it is not just fermentation that develops the flavour and texture of the bread, you have bacteria and enzymes that do not work faster just because your yeast is working faster.

Gerhard

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

However, suppose we allow for a long rise time.

A) Lower salt, high yeast rate, more punch downs.  The dough would have a lower salt taste.
B) Higher salt, low yeast rate, fewer punch downs.  The dough would have a higher salt taste.

If it is the same amount of time for each, allowing for the same bacteria/enzyme activity, will the aroma of the baked bread be different?.

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Download his Bread book, from amazon for a free 7 day trial and read all about it. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

If you could make a better bread with less salt, it would be done. It is not as though bakers want to spend more money on ingredients because they have so much cash  floating around. 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

nothing would ever get invented. 

This might explain why so much bad bread is being sold.
This might explain why I want better bread.

Saving money is not the issue.
Baking bread with less salt is not the issue either. 
Understanding what makes bread with a great aroma is.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I think bad bread gets sold because North America has been trained to eat flavourless and textureless bread and many will only buy the cheapest food irregardless of quality.  I agree with the previous comments that if you taste salt you are using to much it is more to balance the taste.  Vanilla is much the same in most recipes vanilla is added to reinforce other flavours rather draw attention to itself.

Gerhard 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

What I know is that the first fermentation period is primarily about developing the flavor and dough characteristics, ie, extensibility and elasticity, that you want. The general minimum time given for a 'straight dough' to develop properly is around 4-5 hours bulk fermentation, followed by an hour-ish final rise (Calvel, "The Taste of Bread"). Salt amounts are constrained by what most people think tastes good, which is around 1.8-2%, so there's a limit to how much we can slow or speed things up using salt.

Higher salt levels are sometimes used when it's a tasteless commercial loaf of bread that they are trying to jazz up. The highest level I've seen is in an artisan bread is Lahey's No Knead Pizza dough at 3%. I assume he chose this number because his dough ferments for 18 hours and it's to help slow things down, but I find it to be too salty.  (Also, some bread with lots of whole grains may have a high salt percent to compensate for their addition since the % is based just off the flour.)

The majority of flavor in artisan bread at least is from bacteria, as I mentioned. (Not counting enriched doughs.) Some flavor is contributed by the residual alcohol from the yeast, which I assume is what you are detecting as a beer taste. If you cut open warm bread fresh from the oven, you might get a big whiff of evaporating alcohol. (But don't, most hearth breads need 2-3 hours to cool for their flavor and texture to fully develop.) My guess is that the salt isn't going have a huge impact on alcohol production by yeast in the quantities we are talking about, but it may add to the aroma enough that it makes it seem like it does.

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I found this study, which suggests to me the most important thing about salt in bread, outside of flavor, is how it affects gluten and oxidization.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

One point in the conclusion is interesting:  "These results revealed some new findings in the biochemical effects of salt in bread-making, which could break new ground in the bread-making industry."

In short, it proves what has been said here: More salt, faster fermentation, larger rise in a given time.  Maybe there is a study linking salt and fermentation speed with the beer aroma.

 

 

PaddyL's picture
PaddyL

...I once made bread from a recipe by a well-known baker who used much less salt than I would normally use, and the bread was very bland, almost blah.  Apart from taste, the salt does retard the action of yeast to the extent that if you leave out the salt altogether, you might end up with an 'I-Love-Lucy' scenario, with your bread dough rising and spreading out uncontrollably.

suave's picture
suave

Just try it.  Bake one without salt and see if you can tolerate it.  If you can - just roll with it.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I did not notice it when I left it out of the bread.
If you like salt, why not leave out the bread? (-:

suave's picture
suave

I did not notice it when I left it out of the bread.

So what's the problem then?

 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

The discussion is about what the salt does in bread. 

I am exploring to see if salt content changes the beery aroma of fresh baked bread.
Several here thought I was talking about salt for taste.

Initially, in another discussion here, I started by asking what the difference is between bread dough and pizza dough and then it became a science experience based on salt content with thought provoking discussion.

So far, aside from changing the salty taste, the only thing concluded here is that it changes the rise time,
It does not change the time for bacteria (lactic and acetic acid), and enzymes to do their thing.
It may have something to do with texture, stability, gluten,...

suave's picture
suave

In the amounts salt used in bread it really does not do anything besides making it (more) palatable.  All this talk about slowing doing fermentation or significantly altering texture, yes, it's all possible, but when much higher proportions are used.  I mean, when people forget to put salt in, no one ever says "I noticed my dough was rising too fast", or "I noticed my dough was too slack".  For the most part it's "I cut off a slice, bit in, and OMG!  What the hell happened?  I could not! I did!". 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

There is an old Czechoslovakian tradition, as is with many other cultures, to break bread and dip it in salt as an invitation for friendship.  I have no idea if it is from salted bread dough or not.

In your scenario, would it correct the problem by simply sprinkling some salt on the unsalted bread?  OTOH, did the mix require salt for reasons other than salt taste?

As I mentioned earlier, I baked croissants without salt and just before baking I sprinkled scarcely a few grains of salt onto them.  At least one taster, mentioned that I had used a lot of salt.  This is only because the immediate attack of the tongue with salty on the first bite and she perceived that there was a lot more salt than what there actually was.  (I also use unsalted butter.)  She now has stopped cooking with salt all together and uses sprinkles as needed after the fact.  It is a far lower salt intake than when cooking with salt.

 

 

 

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Two entire pages devotes to salt. Small print.  Read it. Find out why salt is used in baking, how it tightens gluten (allows better volume), impacts crust coloring, impacts color, flavor and aroma, as well as taste. 

Borrow the book. Read what you like. Bake. 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

since salt impacts fermentation and fermentation impacts aroma, it is is safe to assume that salt has an impact on aroma as well as taste. 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Does it have increase fermentation? Decrease Fermentation? Other?

 

ericreed's picture
ericreed

I ran across another reason salt helps the flavor of bread. Carotenoids in the dough give a "wheaty aroma" (Hamelman "Bread"), and are destroyed by oxygen. Salt added at the beginning of the mixing process slows that process down. Hamelman says "When salt is added during the later stages of dough mixing, it is detrimental to the carotendoids, which become more oxidized, yielding bread with a whiter crumb and less aroma.

Also, salt does retard bacterial growth and therefore acid production as well. (Otherwise salt wouldn't work very well as a preservative in other applications like pickling.)

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

This is my second biggest reason for adding salt (the first being to balance the sweet/salty/sour flavour profile). Not sure where it was I read that salt is an antioxidant, same as the reason you'd use an autolyse to hydrate the flour instead of mixing at the beginning (less oxidation).

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

'Carotenoids in the dough give a "wheaty aroma"'.   Salt retards the destruction of these miracle flavorizors...

Another vote to have salt.
We are getting somewhere there.... (-:

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

How is this done?  During Kneading?

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Is there a time between adding and mixing the dough?
I wonder how ther would be a difference if there is no delay.

Interesting still...

 

ccsdg's picture
ccsdg

I add it to the autolyse, others probably do differently. This would slow down fermentation right at the outset, but I allow for this with more levain. After all, mixing is what oxidises the flour, so I don't do any significant degree of mixing until I've added salt. 

MarkS's picture
MarkS

I made some rye bread a few weeks back and forgot to add salt. I let it rise like normal. It was a dense brick. It wasn't so much flavorless as nasty. It went in the trash.

flour-power's picture
flour-power

As I am writing this, my dough is rising, and I forgot to add the salt. There is, however, salted butter in the mixture, so there may still be hope.  Otherwise, there's one for the birds.

flour-power's picture
flour-power

Nothing explosive to report. A forum thread here, "Salt - Why Bother?" brings me up to speed on my  salt omission query.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

What results?

Now that I am back to making my own, I am going to see results for myself.
My original discussion was to see if salt enhanced the "Beer flavor" in bread.

 

flour-power's picture
flour-power

This loaf will not go to feed the birds. Tasting in three hours. For now, I can only look..

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Have you left out salt in previous bread recipes?  What is the result?  Why do the Birds say about it?  Of course, if your loaf turns out good, then you will not really be sure if the salted butter came to the rescue or if you actually did not forget to add the salt.

MarkS mentioned that salt was left out but only said that it affected the flavor.  Does it affect the rise or crumb?  What if you salted the bread when it is served or served it with something salty?

 

David Esq.'s picture
David Esq.

Even play dough has salt in it. I think it is safe to assume that the salt is not added for flavor when making play dough, but is added for "crumb" and "handling"

Emerogork, it has been a week since you posted the question. Have you baked a loaf without salt yet?

Hippytea's picture
Hippytea

Weighing in on an old thread here - playdough has a truly heinous amount of salt, and as far as I know it's there as a preservative, not for texture - in any case you can't really draw conclusions as the proportion of salt to flour is way beyond bread. It renders it completely inedible.

(I'm talking about home made playdough - I don't know about the commercial stuff, it tastes different. Don't ask me how I know...)

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I have been cheating by purchasing frozen dough for experimental purposes. I learned a different way to cook the dough.  Preheat to oven to 550 and for an additional half hour to be sure the pizza stone is charged.  Then place the dough in a skillet and then into the oven.  Turn the oven off. I wanted to test this idea and not have my own variables influence the test.

I plan to experiment in no-salt dough eventually.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Last post was 6 years ago. I wonder if I will get a response.

Hippytea's picture
Hippytea

I don't know for sure, just a suggestion, but does salt, by slowing things down, prevent overproofing? Someone near the start mentioned missing out salt and getting a poor rise and pale crust. That sounds like overproofing -pale crust because the sugars are all eaten up, poor rise because the gluten is either overstretched or partly eaten up by proteolysis. The lack of sugars in the crust would impact flavour due to less Maillard action going on.

Take into account this and the aforementioned theory that salt reduces oxidation, and you have two possible effects on flavour, and one on texture, by missing out the salt, completely apart from its direct effect on taste.

Of course oxidation can be minimized by kneading less and with more care, and overproofing can be avoided by reducing time or temperature, so it might be possible to overcome these issues and still produce bread that tastes good  (given a sprinkle of salt after baking). Or there might be other factors we haven't hit on. Experimentation is needed.

A key fact here is that 'beery aroma' (fermentation producing alcohol) is far from the only, or even the most important, factor in bread flavour. For me, sweet wheatiness and Browning flavours are way more important. For others it may be lactic sourness, more than alcoholic flavours, that they value. And texture is at least as important as flavour.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

In the world of metalics, does not salt increase oxidation?  How is it that in bread dough, it reduces it?

I have read that the presence of salt adversely affects yeast performance.  Lately I have been leaving it out of the dough testing to see if the rise improved.  There have not been enough testing to check that theory.  Maybe it all depends on how the final product is used.

Sometimes, when I leave out the salt from the mix,  I drop a few grains of sea salt on the top of the rolls just before baking.  People believe that I over salted the dough. (-:

 

 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Cannot place an image.....

 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

Salt strengthens gluten and inhibits proteolysis. Without it, you may find that your dough turns to goo when it proofs. In baking, salt is your friend. The quantity used isn't that great anyway.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I also question that you use less salt when adding it at the table.  When I BBQ I always season the meat before cooking and we don't have a salt shaker on the table while others I know BBQ without seasoning and there seems to be a lot of salt used on the table.  When my dad lived in a retirement home they cooked everything with no salt because of dietary restrictions of many residence and it appeared to me that there was a lot of salt used at the table and my father complained about everything lacking flavour.

Gerhard

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

"When I BBQ I always season the meat before cooking and we don't have a salt shaker on the table while others I know BBQ without seasoning and there seems to be a lot of salt used on the table."

You might watch the use of salt when you cook with it and it is on the table.  I see many people salt before tasting.

Granted, sometimes salt affects the product physically but most recipes call for you to "salt to taste".  At this, I see it as optional and choose to leave it out.  I find the salt taste is much more noticeable when it meets the tongue from the surface of the food rather when it is cooked into it.

For example, when I cook pasta.  I do not salt the water.  Many times, the salt is in the sauce and more than makes up for it.  I have seen people use salt on fruit and Ice cream.

I watch the TV cooking shows.  Oft they have an open bowl of salt and use it by the fist full.  I seriously doubt that this has any structural purpose.

 

 

 

 

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

Interesting discussion. What role does salt play in the chemistry of bread and what happens when it is not added? As I was reading my mind was wandering and doing some free association and I had several interesting (at least to me) thought associations:

-Alton Brown on making creamy hot cereal-don't add salt until cereal cooked as it allows the starches to develop their creamy goodness.

-The importance of developing not only gluten but the starchy gel in the bread matrix-my personal theory.

-Salt has an effect on lacto/yeast development and therefor acidity in the dough-generally thought to reduce or inhibit lacto/yeast development or slow it down

-Acidity affects gluten-formation (tightness or extensibility)-this is in Bread Science, I believe

Bread can be made with a very broad range of ratios of ingredients and have a successful outcome. I have made MANY delicious breads without salt but not intentionally. :) Most of them were picture perfect and I didn't suspect they were salt free until I tasted them.  Salted butter usually helped make them edible. I am not a salt person but I prefer a little salt. My palate is trained for that.

 I suspect there are bread dough recipes that have ratios of ingredients where it is absolutely essential to have salt or the outcome is not as expected but I don't know of any such formula at this time. When I made my saltfree loaves, I believe I probably paid enough attention to developing the gluten, starch and shaping that I compensated for the lack of salt in those unintentional no-salt loaves. I don't recall having a browning issue but probably had other ingredients (perhaps milk,egg or honey) in those particular bakes to compensate.

It may be interesting to do a comparison bake with a recipe with which you are very comfortable. Do one with salt and one without and see what the difference is. That would be an interesting picture.

Bake delicious fun!

 

clazar123's picture
clazar123

I concur that salt is very overused in general and I have found that we actually train our palates for what tastes "good" to us. That includes slat, sugar, fat, artificial flavorings and capsaicin (pepper) heat. It seems there is black or hot pepper in EVERYTHING these day-including candy.

Years ago, I trained my palate to enjoy much less salt so I could actually taste my food and I now experiment with all kinds of natural flavors-herbs and spices. I even went sugar-free for a year. That was an education for both my palate and my life.It put sweet foods in its proper perspective.

 In my opinion-less is more. Less seasoning of any kind is more delicious. If you are baking for yourself-season to YOUR delight. If you are baking for customers-you need to follow popular trends in general OR market it as "special" (lower salt, more flavor,etc).

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

I used to over-salt everything. I had trained my palate to need the actual taste of the salt in order to be happy. Several years ago, I started putting less salt in my food. Now, I have a flexible palate as well. I can eat food that is under-salted and be happy, as well as food that is generously salted, and everything in between. When cooking, I usually try to use just enough salt to get the maximum flavor of the food with very little or no salt taste. But, my wife still says that stuff tastes salty to her when I don't detect any saltiness at all, so I guess my palate is a little desensitized!

I can taste the difference in bread with too little or too much salt. I usually bake with 2% salt per flour weight. When I've used less salt in my bread, it always ends up being bland to me. Recently, I used a little extra salt in my bread (2.5% instead of 2%) and it tasted a little too salty. It was still good for sandwiches, however. Additionally, in the past, when I've forgotten to add the salt, the bread over-proofed pretty badly. It blew up like a balloon during final rise! That bread turned out very bland. It wasn't just the lack of salt taste. My wife, who prefers the sourdough flavor to be on the extra-mild side, didn't like it. I like a little more flavor than she does, and it seemed totally lacking to me. This has happened a couple times, usually when I'm trying a different process (adding the salt at a different point in the mixing/kneading).

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

"When cooking, I usually try to use just enough salt to get the maximum flavor of the food"

I contend that salt, with very few exceptions,  has no effect on flavor.  Flavor is detected in the nose while salt is detected on the tongue.  Never the twain shall meet.

Salt temporarily desensitizes of the bitter taste buds making the food seem sweeter.  You believe that something is sweeter but it is not.    Therefore, when I make croissants, for example.  no salt in the mix but just before baking I place one grain of coarse salt on ends of each one.  When the tongue meets those grains, the mind thinks that the entire pastry is salty.

For me, if one was to eat just the bread, then salt is probably needed.  However, if it is to be buttered, consumed with deli meats, dipped in a stew, etc, then no salt is needed.  It will there collaterally.

It is all a matter of taste.

(:

 

 

 

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Being a diabetic for 20 years now, and knowing that sugar is not all there is to the disease, I have still cut so far back in sugar that none of my pastries are made with sugary unless it is structural.  My apple pie is tart and people prefer it.  The recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar with the apples!

There are some breakfast cereals that I would purchase if they would reduce or eliminate the sugar.  Life cereal for one.  After all, we grew up with them, too bad they did not grow up with us.  We just don't want all that sweet in our foods anymore.

One main reason salt or sugar is added to processed food is to cover up the ill flavors created by artificial colorings, artificial flavorings and preservatives.

 

mixinator's picture
mixinator

I recently tried varying the amount of salt in my recipe from the customary 2%

You're absolutely right. Too little salt, say 1%, just isn't right flavor-wise.

In an effort to make my sourdough more sour I went up to 3%. The bread wasn't objectionably salty but the taste of salt was obvious.

2% is the time-honored amount of salt to use and seems to be just about right. In my small boules this works out to about 1/2 teaspoon per 1 1/2 cups of flour, which is not an awful lot.

gerhard's picture
gerhard

Just my opinion but if you taste salt it is too much but it definitely affects the flavour.  I have baked bread and forgotten to add salt the bread tasted flat and the crust did not brown as usual.

Gerhard

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

I guess I am stuck on definitions.  For me all flavors are resolved in the nose while taste realized in the mouth.  Salt is detected on the tongue and you cannot smell salt for the most part.  Therefore,as I see it, salt does not actually affect flavor.

Since salt impairs the bitter taste buds, food is registered as sweeter even though no sweetener is added.

When I add salt to a stew, for example, does it increase the flavor of the stew or is it now nothing more than salted stew?  Don't get me wrong, salt is a favorable taste especially since the body craves it naturally to satisfy a biological process.  You feel good because of that effect.

I do have contention wit the statement that "if you can taste salt it is too much" salt.  Do you not like salted pretzels, popcorn, potato chips?  That is my point when I place a single grain of kosher salt on either side of a croissant.  You get a burst of salt on the first and last bite and believe that you consumed a lot of salt.

Something to ponder: If salt adds, or brings out, the flavor of a rye bread then you should be able to reduce the rye and use more salt.  Would that improve the rye flavor of the bread?

It is all a matter of how you define/justify flavor or taste.Most people do not differentiate between the two.

Topics to avoid: Politics, Religion, Sex, and salt as a flavor..... (:

 

 

baliw2's picture
baliw2

It will make the bread taste better

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

Although I agree with you, I wonder if this was in error. 
It is so contrary to a lot of the responses here...  (-:

 

PetraR's picture
PetraR

Food without salt is bland food * in my humble opinion *

If you get the balance right it is good.

To salty is just as bad as no salt * in my opinion *

Taste is on the tongue, we have tastebuds for a reason and taste begins on the tongue where we decide if we like something or not.

The nose takes in the smell of food but by the smell you can never now if it is actual tasty.

To much salt horrible, but no salt in bread makes just * tasteless *

I avoid salt * to much salt * with everything  but I do use it when I cook and / or bake *

You can substitute salt with herbs and such , but that goes not for bread, I tried it quite a few times.

 

DavidEF's picture
DavidEF

I've never had a reason to define taste or flavor. And I've certainly never thought of contrasting them like you have. But, my definition of flavor includes taste, although I suppose you could have taste without flavor, as is the case with salt itself. At any rate, I would never define flavor as being only in the nose. If that's true scientifically, I've never heard of it. I've noticed intricacies in flavor when using the right amount of salt that aren't there when using either significantly more or significantly less than that amount of salt. I also don't think I've ever noticed foods being any sweeter when salt is added. But, the suppression of bitter is sometimes very noticeable. There are so many flavors beyond the five senses of taste that we supposedly are able to perceive. And IMHO a lot of those flavors are enhanced by adding the right amount salt. Sometimes, the flavor of some food just isn't very perceptible at all (to me) until some amount of salt is added. But, when the right amount of salt has been added, it doesn't make that food taste like salt. Salt isn't the only flavor enhancer there is, either. It just happens to be the focus of this conversation. I sometimes add sugar to foods to enhance the flavor, but only a tiny amount, not even enough to begin to taste any sweetness.

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

If you really want to test your sense of taste, hold a slice of apple to your nose and bite into a pungent onion.  You will believe that you are eating the apple.

However, as you chew, the flavor of the onion will travel up the nasal openings at the back of the mouth into the nose where you will behold the flavor of the onion too.

To address both arguments here, Try this site:
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2011/09/why-salt-enhances-flavor/

 

gerhard's picture
gerhard

I stand by that statement that if you taste salt it is too much, obviously there are foods that are designed to have a salty flavour like pretzels but most breads aren't.  Too me when you add the salt after you make salty but when added to the dough it just heightens the bread's flavours not to taste salt.  It is much like using vanilla, when used properly you don't taste vanilla but over all flavour of the product is enhanced.  Vanilla can be bought as a natural flavour or a synthesized flavour and to me the artificial products biggest short coming is that it lacks the subtleties of the natural vanilla and tends to dominate the flavour.

Gerhard

Emerogork's picture
Emerogork

 

 

All that work and all they do is eat it!  (: