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Salting Zucchini Experiment Report

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In the Shortcut or Heresy thread, pre-salting vegetables like eggplant or zucchini was oft mentioned as something people skipped. I’ve always skipped it; I never saw my mom pre-salt one vegetable in her or my life and so I never did either. So to me pre-salting isn’t a step you might skip, it’s just never been a step, period.

But prompted by this post To Salt or Not to Salt
http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

I started to experiment with salting my zucchini. As the fore-mentioned Queen of Longcuts, I could not resist the chance to be even more anal retentive and laborious in my cooking. Why skip a step or look for a shortcut when you can ADD a step! Actually 2 steps, Salt and Remove Moisture! Oh boy! So below are my experiment results. (Note: I’m not a fancy schmancy chef, so sorry there are no fancy schmancy dishes here).

Experiment #1: Grilled Zucchini
Hypothesis: Salting will make zukes less mushy, so it will taste more “grilled” and less “steamed”
Methods:
Slice zukes in half, lay cut side up on a shallow baking pan and sprinkle with table salt.
Wait 15-20 minutes then blot with paper towel to remove moisture from cut zucchini. Actually that’s what my recipe said but as I was blotting I felt like my paper towel just pushed the moisture back into the zuke, so I wiped the zukes pressing down very hard to get that damn moisture out. I pressed so hard I snapped one of my zukes in half. So don’t wipe too hard. Uh the zukes I mean.
Sprinkle/drizzle with whatever flavor additions you want. I used leftover balsamic vinaigrette.
Grill over high heat, rotating and flipping every couple minutes to get char marks.
Results:
Looks: Sorry no photo. It was a boring weeknight dinner, I don’t pull out the camera for everything!
Taste: Hmm. Not much different from my usual non presalted grilled zukes. Maybe a bit less mushy than usual. Maybe since these were pretty small zukes (from Farmers Market) they don’t have much moisture to begin with.
Conclusion: Not worth the time/effort. Grilled zucchini used to take 12 minutes to make (4 minutes to wash, slice & season, 8 minutes to grill). This step added 30 seconds to salt, 20 minutes to wait, and 1.5 minutes to wipe dry, totalling 34 minutes! Yeah I know I’m doing other stuff during the 20 minute wait, but still, dinner’s 22 minutes later? No thanks.

Stay tuned for the next experiment, Julienned Zucchini

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  1. I've never salted zucchini, but I always salt eggplant before making parmesan: I've made it both ways, and the salted eggplant has a more pleasant texture.

    Thanks for the experiments & reports!

    1. Yeah, what MuppetGrrl said.

      Perhas your Mom didn't salt eggplant, Alice, because she was using Asian varieties. As far as I know, only Italian eggplant has any significant benefits from salting.

      1. Alice,
        My favorite zucchini recipe, which I learned from my uncle in San Francisco 34 years ago, requires salting. This works best with small to moderate zukes: not swollen overgrown ones. I figure about 3/4 to one zucchini per person. Lots of shrinkage.

        Wash (of course), the whole zucchini. Shred the zuke on a large hole grater, into a colander. Salt and stir to get the salt mixed in. Let the salted zuke drain for 5-10 minutes while you grate or chop some garlic, and heat it in a frying pan with some olive oil, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon or so. Then take the zucchini by the handful, and squeeze it hard to get as much moisture out as possible, and toss in the pan. Saute for maybe 3-5 minutes, and enjoy! Add some fresh ground pepper, and maybe some parmesan-reggiano, and you are in business. No soggy mess. p.j.

        1. The only time I salt zucchini is when I am serving it raw in a salad. I use a mandolin or carrot peeler to do long thin strips and then salt them for 20 minutes. You rinse off the salt and you have a lovely textured zucchini, perfect for a salad.

          Otherwise, salt the really big eggplants and skip all other salting.

          1. I salt zucchini to alter the texture (and to use up a whole lot at one time). I wouldn't bother for grilling, but shredded or thin-sliced, salted and VERY well drained zukes are great in a saute or sauce. Not better necessarily, but different. Given that I grow zukes and eat a lot of them, different is a plus.

            Edit: When I want them well drained I start with a colander and then put them in a linen dishtowel and wring them dry.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Aromatherapy

              Id suggest salting and draining the sliced salted zukes or eggplants in a colander, then wiping off - it helps to let gravity assist the draining process

              1. re: jen kalb

                I would imagine the high heat of the grill would do a better job of cooking out the moisture than other cooking methods.