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Jan 30, 2007 03:39 PM

I oversalted my black bean soup

What can I do? I found out the hard way that ham hocks don't need much added salt!

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  1. I've heard of adding a peeled, cut-up potato to soak up the extra salt, but I've never tried it... can you add more liquid and more beans?

    1. add a puree'd potato

      1. I've done a whole peeled potato (not cubed or shredded).
        Just submerge it in your soup, and pull it out in a 1/2 hour or so.

        1. The potato deal works. If you don't want potato in your finished soup, just put it in cut in half. But the one time I did this it took a lot longer than half an hour--but by the same token, I put a WAY LOT TOO MUCH salt in.

          1. Many people, including food scientists and authors such as Bob Wolke (*What Einstein Told His Cook*), consider the "add a potato to remove excess salt" tip a kitchen myth of the first rank. For example, see:

            5 Replies
            1. re: carswell

              It has worked each time i have tried.

              - The ivillage article is not infallible, tomato juice does not remove skunk odor that well. De-skunk is much better and some woman's sanitary stuff works even better (at Vet's advice). And they only put the potato in for 15 minutes.
              - WWrecipes strikes me as someone who writes while the baby is asleep upstairs, major yawn
              - i liked the washington post story, and think that was doen better than the others.

              BUT, it seems to work with me, so my sample size of one (statistically insignificant) proves the de-salting correct. FWIW

              1. re: jfood

                My experience is that it doesn't work, not that I think individual experiences count for much in proving or disproving this kind of question. I'd be far more inclined to give credence if you or someone else could explain the physical process, the chemistry, behind this magic attraction. What, according to believers, makes potatoes a salt magnet?

                1. re: carswell

                  I agree that different tastes will lead to different results and the conductivity test is forcing me to re-think. I would love to see a PPM analysis done versus the proxey of the electrical test.

                  Next question I have once this is solved is why my mother put milk in the water when she boiled ears of corn.

                  1. re: carswell

                    hrm... to me it sounds like a high-concentration/low-concentration thing. if there's a high concentration of salt in the water outside the potato but a low concentration inside, nature seeks an equilibrium, no? i have never tried this method, so i can't say if it works or not, but it sounds sensible to me.

                    then again, i have seen it kind of work... sometimes if imake soup that has potatoes in it and add salt at the end to adjust, by the next day the soup needs more salt again. i always assumed that it was because the potatoes absorbed the salt overnight. so maybe i have tried it =)

                    edited to add: it looks like i was half right. after searching for "potato salt osmosis" i found some pages on science class labs. nature does seek to balance the concentrations but not by having salt go into the potato but rather by having water move out of the potato! this is weird, though... why not just add water to the soup then? i guess potato water is probably tastier than plain. this site has a good explanation:


                    "As you know, the salt solution dehydrates the potato slice by osmosis --
                    water inside the potato cells diffuses out in an attempt to dilute the
                    salt solution. Osmotic flow always occurs in the direction that favors
                    dilution. Rather than the salt entering the cells, water inside flows out
                    into the salt solution."

                    1. re: arifa

                      actually it isn't so weird... the potato has a semi-permeable membrane. in the case that a membrane is permeable, the solute (the dissolved component, here the salt) can pass through the membrane, and will flow from more concentrated to less concentrated areas. in the case of the potato and its semi-permeable membrane, the salt cannot move across the barrier, so instead the water moves to even things out, and the reverse motion happens where water moves from lower concentrated areas to higher ones to "dilute" as said above :)

                      (chemistry nerd)