The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Do I need all this salt?

lizziepee's picture

Do I need all this salt?

My artisan no-knead bread recipe has 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt to 6.5 Cups of flour.  Other than there there is only yeast and water in the recipe.

My question is: do I need all this salt? I would like to cut down on the amount so if it is possible to do this do you have any recommendations as to how low I can go?

I am assuming the salt is helping with the rising?


thanks for any help :-)

trailrunner's picture

the flour is roughly 1000 grams and ordinarily most folks use 2% salt or 20g of salt for 1000 g of flour. 20 grams of salt is roughly 4 tsp so that is close to the 1 1/2 Tbsp....a scale is the best way to go . The salt is used to slow down the yeast and for flavor. 

Lechem's picture

1.8 - 2% of flour...


1 tsp fine sea salt is around 5g

3 two in a tablespoon

1.5 tablespoons fine salt = 22.5g


1 cup flour = 120g ish! (Depends what flour you're using and how you measure a cup)

6.5 cups = 780g 


So the normal range will be 14g - 15.5g of salt for 6.5 cups of flour. That's about 1 tablespoon. 

The new British standard is 1% salt for total weight of the baked bread. If you add up all the ingredients in grams (not the salt) and reduce by 13% (a dough loses weight when baked) and calculate 1% for the salt and you have gotten the salt to the minimum without losing the effect. 


kendalm's picture

That's 3.2% (25g of salt for 780g of flour). As stated above the normal salt content is usually around 2% and often a bit lower. As trail,runner says its better to measure - btw if you scoop flour with your measuring cup chances are you could end up with significantly more flour from compacting it into the cup. If you don't have scale its best to scoop first and pour the flour into the cup then level it. But back to the question, 1 tablespoon is 17g and 15g would be just under 2% so maybe try about one tablespoon, unless of course the recipe is intended to be xtra salty ..

lizziepee's picture

Thanks everyone - it seems I can safely reduce the salt. I normally bake this in a hot oven and although salty, it tastes fine. But current circumstances find me without an oven but with a borrowed slow cooker. I am using the same recipe to get some semblance of bread (although nothing like the crusty chewy result I have in an oven) and the result works but the salt taste is much too strong. I was concerned that the original amount of salt was needed to help with the rising so did not want to experiment without asking first as my resources are limited. I will try with one (meager)Tablespoon

hanseata's picture

For a customer with health issues I baked my usual rye breads with much less salt. They rose just fine. And Tuscan bread has a fabulous rise - and contains no salt at all!


SugarOwl's picture

My no-knead recipe also calls for a lot of salt, but it's Kosher salt, bigger grains than regular table salt. Kosher salt isn't as salty as regular. I accidentally substituted regular salt for it and it was too salty. I use the recipe in the book "Artisan Breads in 5 minutes a Day."

Edit: I'm not sure how to describe the difference between the two salts other than that....
Morton has a chart about it:

gerhard's picture

is just as salty as regular salt if measured by weight, when you measure by volume you are measuring a lot more air spaces between crystals.


SugarOwl's picture

Exactly what I mean to say. Thanks gerhard!

kendalm's picture

The volume changes but by weight is all sodium chloride - another reason to measure by weight ! 

drogon's picture

Another reason to stop using volume measurements (spoons) and start using weight. (g or oz, whatever, just be consistent)

From what I've learned; kosher salt is salt without iodine. Some countries add iodine into salt as a matter of course, so getting de-iodised (aka kosher) salt is preferable for those whos religion dictates this, or do not think their government ought to be tinkering with their mineral/vitamin intake....

Where I am, (UK), salt is not regularly iodised, so it can cause confusion to  those who read (typically) American recipes.

Less iodine can technically make the salt more saltier as there is more salt per unit weight.

Some people/posh chefs/the real bread campaign are now suggesting using sea salt - not for the iodine issue, but for the lack of free-flowing additives. Technically this can make the salt saltier as there is more salt per unit weight.

The down-side of using sea salt is that it's stupidly more expensive. Great if you're a posh chef being sponsored by the stupidly expensive and greedy UK sea salt makers, or the home baker who wants to feel a bit special - really crap for the small commercial baker trying to stick to the real bread campaign guidelines - unless you can get it by the 25Kg sack (which I now do, and it is imported 1000 miles from Portugal, rather than use the sea salt company 50 miles down the road at 100x the cost. Their loss).

Anyway, rock salt was once sea salt, but buying it without the free-flowing additives (at least in the UK) is almost impossible and lets not even go into the issues/costs/etc. of using that pink stuff...


Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

Rock salt isn't sea salt and sea salt isn't rock salt.  Rock salt is dug up from the ground and then pulverized; it has a different texture and -- some say -- a slightly different taste than sea salt, due to different trace minerals in each.

Kosher salt isn't "de-iodized" nor is any other salt.  Iodine (in near-trace amounts) is added to table salt as a supplement because subsistence-level and even above-subsistence-level diets in many parts of the world don't provide enough iodine for neural development in children, or even to avoid serious thyroid problems like goiter.

Given the tiny quantities of KI used in iodine supplementation, I find the idea that "less iodine can make the salt saltier" pretty questionable -- I'd be willing to bet $100 nobody here can tell the difference in a double-blind test.  More importantly, getting wound up about the government "tinkering with vitamin/mineral intake" via salt is pretty serious first-world thinking -- how lucky we are to eat a diet with enough meat and fresh vegetables to supply us enough iodine without iodized salt!  When salt-iodizing plants break down in less privileged parts of the world there are real, measurable health consequences, many of them for children: not good.

There is no religious reason to avoid iodized salt of which I'm aware.  All salt -- if it's just salt -- is kosher.  So-called "kosher salt" is so called because it's made for koshering meat, a.k.a. drawing the blood out.  It is not iodized because it's cheaper not to, and it is exempt from table salt requirements.  When you see a kosher certification mark on salt, it is generally a sign that the salt contains non-mineral content (e.g. anti-caking agents made from corn) and thus requires kosher certification of purity.

Anyway, this is largely besides the point as regards baking except to note that all salt of the same crystal/grain size is basically equivalent for baking purposes.  The thing to watch out for is that measuring salt by volume is a sketchy business: coarse rock or sea salt has the largest crystals and gives the least weight by volume; kosher salt is next, and table salt is of course much "saltier" per unit volume (because there's less air, because of the smaller crystals) than either.  The only reliable thing to do is to always measure salt by weight but most scales used for home baking are not accurate at weights below about 15g.  I use a small digital jewelers' scale to measure salt, bulk yeast, and spices; a postage scale or small dieter's scale will likely also work well.  Or scale up your recipes so the salt quantities are in the range you can measure; or weigh a larger volume of salt, figure out the weight-to-volume conversion for the salt you're using, and then don't use any other type.  The things not to do:

  • Don't assume you can weigh out small quantities of salt with the scale you use for flour
  • Don't assume you know the weight of salt of some particular crystal size unless you've actually measured it.
  • Don't assume recipe authors got this stuff right when converting from bakery to home scale.
gerhard's picture

I am not sure what you added to the question.  Gordon's point was that a lot of salt deposits formed from the evaporation of ancient seas.  If the salt is certified kosher, wish I haven't seen or paid attention to, really has nothing to do with measuring.  The crystal size part had already been established.

To be fair the only thing that your post added was a sense of hostility.


Thor Simon's picture
Thor Simon

Well, if you took my message as hostile, my apologies.  I didn't mean it that way.  I do think it's not terribly responsible to encourage people to look at iodized salt as some kind of harmful, chemically polluted substance; it is essential to child nutrition in many parts of the world and is, perhaps most importantly here, indistinguishable from non-iodized salt in its baking performance.

I take issue with your characterization that "the only thing that [my] post added was a sense of hostility".  In fact, I think that characterization is, itself, hostile and disrespectful.  I think I gave more than a little advice about salt quantities in small-scale recipes I wish someone had given me early on:

  • measuring salt by volume requires weighing a larger quantity of identical salt to establish its density
  • scales that home bakers use for higher-volume ingredients like flour do not accurately measure the very small weights of salt used in typical home recipes
  • a jeweler's or postage scale is a good alternative.
  • when scaling down recipes meant for commercial use, incorrectly computing salt volumes is a fairly common recipe-book mistake, particularly when imprecise specifications like "kosher or sea salt" are used

These problems don't impact commercial bakers because they are making batches large enough that they can weigh their salt using a scale they're likely to have at hand.  They could use salt grains the size of golf balls and -- one suspects with some difficulties in mixing -- they'd still get it right. ;-)

Did someone else offer any of this advice?  I must have missed it.

Colin2's picture

Thor contributed a polite, carefully written, well-organized, and highly factual post.  This is exactly the kind of thing a site like this needs.  It included useful advice.

A conversation on this site becomes part of an archive.  It is not just idle chat.  People will consult it in the future.  So it's important to address factual misconceptions when they arise.  This Thor did.  It was a public service and probably more than a few minutes of work.  

This might be a good moment for you to apologize, Gerhard.


Lechem's picture

And learned a lot at the same time. Taught me a thing or two and done in a very polite manner. 

Thank you Thor.

tom scott's picture
tom scott

Weekend Bakery has a post on salt amounts.  Don't know if it will be of use to you but here 'tis.