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Why Does Salt Make Everything Taste So Much Better?

Bon Appétit Logo By Sarah Jampel of Bon Appétit | Slide 1 of 12: It’s hard to overstate the importance of salt. And we’re not just talking about the oft-repeated cooking mantra “salt as you go.” Salt is an essential nutrient for the human body (put simply, we can't live without it), but that’s not all. Salt has also built empires, words (salad, salsa, salary!), and, of course, gazillions of foods. Kimchi, lox, umeboshi, prosciutto, we’re talking about you. But even if you understand that salt makes food taste good, how does salt work, exactly? Where does salt come from, what does salt do, and why does (nearly) every recipe call for at least a pinch?  Here’s all that—plus how to shop for salt, how to use it well, and how to dial it back when you’ve gone too far.

It’s hard to overstate the importance of salt. And we’re not just talking about the oft-repeated cooking mantra “salt as you go.” Salt is an essential nutrient for the human body (put simply, we can't live without it), but that’s not all. Salt has also built empires, words (salad, salsa, salary!), and, of course, gazillions of foods. Kimchi, lox, umeboshi, prosciutto, we’re talking about you.

But even if you understand that salt makes food taste good, how does salt work, exactly? Where does salt come from, what does salt do, and why does (nearly) every recipe call for at least a pinch? 

Here’s all that—plus how to shop for salt, how to use it well, and how to dial it back when you’ve gone too far.

© Photo by Isa Zapata

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