How to Cut the Saltiness of Marinara

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You can cut the saltiness of marinara sauce by carefully employing a few key ingredients. Find out how to cut the saltiness of marinara sauce with help from a published cookbook author and food expert in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Understanding Taste for Better Cooking
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Barb Stuckey, author of Taste, and today we're going to talk about salt. Such a simple unassuming ingredient. But one that you can really get in trouble with. We're going to talk specifically about what happens when you put too much salt in a pasta sauce. Something like a marinara or the red spaghetti sauce. How do you fix it? Where do you go from here? In the same way that you would solve other problems where you over season something the best way to do it would be to make another batch. And so if you have the time and the ingredients on hand you could make a whole other batch of pasta sauce. But that might not be the case. So we'll talk about how to solve the problem with a couple of tricks. And it starts with an understanding of the science of taste. So there are only five things that we do taste using our sense of taste alone. Sweet, sour, bitter, salt and umami. And in order to balance that beautiful five pointed star of taste you want to think about keeping them all in check. So if your salt is out of balance in your pasta sauce you could use the other four points on the star to get it back in balance. So lets start with one that is very intuitive, and that would be sweetness. We love the combination of sweetness and saltiness. And getting that right can be a way to bring the salt level down. So you add a little bit of sugar, or honey, or molasses to your sauce and the perception of saltiness can come down. Now you don't want to go overboard because the last thing you want is a sauce that tastes not only too salty but now it tastes oddly sweet. So judicious use. You could use the umami or that really savory meaty flavor that you get from things like beef and aged cheese, but you have to be careful because a lot of things that we love that contain umami, like soy sauce and tomato sauce, also contain salt. So if you're going to use umami in the form of tomatoes make sure that you get at least a reduced salt version of tomatoes if not a no salt added at all. And then there's bitter. And bitter works wonders to balance out salt. So you could add a little bit of beer to your sauce and that would give it a nice sort of fresh hoppiness, and balance out the salt. And wine. It's a natural in a pasta sauce. And you could add red wine to give it just a little bit of bitterness and tannin and some sourness as well. So keep the bitter in mind. If none of the above works and you feel like you've just still got too much salt in your pasta sauce you could go to the pasta now and when you're thinking about making the pasta, make the pasta without putting any salt in the water. In fact, sometimes I'll even add sugar to the water. And what that does is the sugar in the pasta will offset the saltiness in the sauce so that when you add them together they're just perfectly balanced. Another trick for reducing the amount of salt that you can perceive is to add just a touch of fat. In the form of olive oil or heavy cream or milk. And what that does is that it coats your tongue and give you a lower salt perception. So the best thing to do though is to not have to deal with this problem at all. And that is when you're cooking add salt a little bit at a time. So if your recipe calls for salt, cut it in half, put half of it aside and taste. You should always be tasting when you're cooking. Taste, adjust. You can always add more salt but it's really hard to take the salt out. I'm Barb Stuckey, author of Taste and if you want to learn more about how tastes and aromas work together and everything about the science of taste visit my website, barbstuckey.com.

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