When to add salt to cooking water?
True or false?
IntroductionCooking abounds with old sayings and proverbs, which are sometimes useful tips and sometimes myths. We learn or hear them somewhere, and often trust them completely, even when they're wrong.
I propose simply to verify them, to see whether they are real useful tips that we can use, or just ill-founded popular beliefs.
Of course I can't claim to be writing scientific facts here, just personal observations and what I understand them to mean.
The belief"One should always salt water when boiling, rather than when cold."
Is it better to salt cooking water, for vegetables for example, at the beginning when it is cold or when it boils?
I always heard that one should salt "after", when water is boiling, because if it is salted "before" it will take longer to boil.
The approachWe already know the time it takes to boil 1 litre water, measured in another experiment.
We are going to use the same pan, heat source and water volume, but add salt and bring to the boil while measuring and comparing temperatures.
The result in brief
"One should always salt water when boiling, rather than when cold." : No, there's no benefit.
Let's check this:
ResultsAt the start of heating, the temperature of the salted water rises more slowly: after 3 minutes 30 seconds the unsalted water is already at 040°C (100°F), while salted water is still at 025°C (80°F).
But then the two catch up and they take the same time to reach 100°C (210°F).
Another point: it seems, but I'm not really adamant about it, that salted water starts to boil at a lower temperature than unsalted, i.e. around 90°C (190°F) rather than 100°C (210°F).
Last modified on: October 13th 2010