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Fruit + Salt = ?

I once dated someone who always sprinkled salt on fresh fruit -- everything from pineapples to melons to apples to even oranges.

The theory was that it brought out, or enhanced, the natural sweetness of the fruit.

For me, tried it once, and never again shall the two meet.

Do you do this? And, if so, why??? Is it an acquired taste?

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  1. Tons of my asian friends as well as some of my spanish friends do this. I prefer fresh fruit plain, but am not opposed to a little bit of salt.

    1 Reply
    1. re: justagthing

      My brother told me that salt on grapefruit reduces the acidity and makes it taste sweeter. He was right. Most dessert recipes use a little salt to bring out the flavors. There is a great book on salt called SALT: A WORLD HISTORY, by Mark Kurlansky - sounds crazy, but it was incredibly interesting - who knew that salt had such an impact on our world.

    2. I don't normally do this, but every once in a while, I enjoy a little salt on a nectarine. In East LA, I had the fresh fruit mix (from a stand) with tons of salt, chile powder and lime juice on it. It was hard to eat after a while (too salty), but it does grow on you.

      Generally, I eat my fruit unsalted; but once in a while, it's okay to do something different.

      1. I've never actually salted my fruit before but I do like prosciutto on melon so I think I can understand the pairing. The opposites add a complexity that is delicious.

        1. My parents do and I think it's good but don't do it myself. There is a brown salty powder that you can get from Taiwan that's for fruit that's really good. I don't think it's an acquired taste--a lot of people I know like watermelon and feta right off the bat.

          I just found the powder on the site below. Search for dried prune powder.

          http://www.loxstockandbarrel.com/

          1 Reply
          1. re: chowser

            that's the ling he mui powder, in hawaii you can get dried mangoes with that and it is so addictive....you can also buy the powder in most japanese/hawaiian stores like marukai, at the costcos in hawaii, you can buy the powder in bulk.

          2. I think salting watermelon is fairly common -- when I make watermelon juice, I always add a little salt, and it does bring out the flavor. I remember when I was a kid I used to put salt on apples. I wonder when I stopped doing that?

            Whether it's an acquired taste probably depends on how salt sensitive you are. If you use a small amount, it shouldn't taste salty, just more complexly flavored, but if you're sensitive to salt, that level at which it doesn't taste salty may be very low.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              I used to put salt on sour green apples as a kid too, and I have no idea why I stopped either. I think a touch of salt can enhance limeade and lemonade too.

              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                I love to put salt on melons. In fact, I never liked watermelon until I put salt on it. I remember one of my mom's friends telling me I wasn't really a kid because I didn't like watermelon.

                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                  While I am a watermelon purist (no salt for me), that concept is the reason behind watermelon-feta cheese salads. The combination is irresistible.

                  That being said, salt does enhance many sweet things. One of the reasons Frango Mints are so good is the slight saltiness contrasting with the sweet chocolate and mint flavors. Same for Tollhouse and peanutbutter cookies.

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                    I simply do not eat watermelon - ever - without salt. I love it that way.

                    And my Syrian grandfather taught me to eat watermelon on some pita bread. Surprisingly good.

                  2. I sometimes slice up an orange and salt the slices and eat it. My mom did it and that is where I picked up the habit.

                    1. Grapefruit and cantaloupe type melons. Sometimes pepper on the melon as well.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: hannaone

                        I put salt on all of my fruit! I have NO sweet tooth what so ever but I do love the bright refreshing nature of fresh fruit so the way I make it palatable for me is to add a bit of salt often with a sqeeze of lemon. As a matter of fact I slice up lemon and sprinkle them with salt before I begin having my way with them.

                        1. re: hannaone

                          That's what I do, too. Grapefruit and mushmelon. Now and then I get grapefruit juice, and I usually drink it out of a salt-rimmed glass, like a margarita. I'm actually not sure why these fruits taste better with salt. But I've always eaten them this way.

                          1. re: revsharkie

                            My father used to do this all the time. When I was a kid I thought he was crazy, but now I understand.

                            "One day, when you're older, you will understand"
                            unk

                            1. re: hannaone

                              My dad did this, too. Is this a regional thing? He's from the South. He put salt on grapefruit, salt on watermelon and salt and pepper on cantelope.

                              1. re: Furgs

                                Possibly, my father was born in Ark.

                                1. re: hannaone

                                  My Dad is also from Arkansas, and I got my penchant for salting fruit from him. I like to salt to melons (except watermelon, which I don't care for) , apples and oranges. I've never salted grapefruits, but I love Salty Dogs (vodka and grapefruit juice with a salted rim), so it's worth a try.
                                  And I have some fresh pineapple chunks in the fridge that I'm definitely going to try it on!

                                  1. re: Debbie M

                                    I don't have any family from the South, born and raised is SoCal but I spent my summers in Mexico with my ex-pat grandparents so maybe that is where it started for me. I remember mounds of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, red onions and all kinds of fruits being dressed with lemon juice and salt. That is how we ate them when I was like 5 and it is still my favorite way to enjoy fresh fruit.

                                2. re: Furgs

                                  Might be. I grew up in Kansas but most of my relatives are from Oklahoma. I live in Iowa now and folks up here, as well as my Oregonian husband, think it's awfully strange when I salt my mushmelons and grapefruit (I don't like watermelon, so I don't salt it).

                                  1. re: Furgs

                                    My dad also use to put salt on grapefruit and watermelon and he also put pepper on cantelope! He taught us to do the same. My Dad was from Oklahoma by the way. It is true the salt makes the watermellon and grapefruit sweeter in taste. I can't describe what the pepper on canteoupe does but I do like the taste. To me it improves the flavor. I am posting this because I was recently eating canteloupe that way and I decided to search the web to try to find out if any one else did it. That's how I found this website!

                            2. Why eat watermelon if you don't salt it?

                              1. Only add salt to sour fruits to bring out some sweetness. In the Philippines, we eat sour green mangoes with salt, soy sauce or bagoong (salted shimp paste). For me, I also use salt on watermelons and strawberries. You don't need to add too much.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Rodeline

                                  My BF likes salt on his mangoes--even when they're already ripe! Of course, he eats limes with salt, so maybe it's a cultural thing--he's Cuban, and grew up with it. Just as I grew up with soy sauce and bananas or green mangoes...

                                2. It is a pretty common practice where I am from in southern IN, but it was typically limited to watermelon, cantaloupe, and honeydew. I will still do it on occasion, but only when I get a melon that is not super tasty on its own.

                                  1. Funny timing, this question. Last night I had dinner with some friends - very casual, last minute kind of thing. For dessert, he served strawberries, plums and grapes accompanied by some cream and a touch of chopped mint. We were all sitting there eating it and he asked if we thought the cream was "off". It did taste odd. Eventually, it turned out that he had accidentally sprinkled the fruit with salt instead of sugar - just enough to leave you wondering what exactly was wrong. Very very embarassed, but the rest of us thought it was hilarious.

                                    1. My mom always sprinkls a little bit of salt on her watermelon and I never really understood. But then again, I buy fruit cups from the street vendors, dosed with lime juice, salt, and chili. Mango, papaya, watermelon, and pineapple all taste f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c with a little bit of salt! =)

                                      1. My mom puts salt on Grapefruit - Icky!!!!!!!

                                        But I do like tropical fruit with chili and lime.

                                        If I am cooking fruit, I like to ad a little black pepper or quatra epice. It ads depth.

                                        1. An old roommate of mine used to put salt on pomegranate seeds, and I've been hooked on it ever since. In this case I don't think it enhanced the sweetness, but rather complemented the taste of the fruit.

                                          1. salt on pineapple is sooper good
                                            I prefer the chili/lime/salt combo on peaches and other stone fruits

                                            yumm, watermelon pretty much exists to carry salt

                                            1. Yes absolutely, salt on my granny smith apples. Can't think of eating them without it.
                                              Salt, lime and chili on melons. And my sis. Pepper on cantelope. HUH? I have not tried that btut she's done it since she was a kid. Why not? Chili powder? Black Pepper? samo samo.

                                              1. I can't remember the exact physiology of it, but yes, salt will enhance sweet flavors and hide bitter flavors. This is why some people say to put a bit of salt into coffee.

                                                If the amount of salt on the fruit you tried may have been too much. It shouldn't taste salty, just better.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Lixer

                                                  never heard of salt in coffee. but the guys at the golf course where i worked years ago sprinkled salt in their beers.

                                                2. Just as an aside...

                                                  My local watering hole makes a killer canteloupe martini (I know its not really a martini.) The first time I tried it I knew it would be even better with a lightly salted rim. Now thats the only way I order it.

                                                  1. A Vietnamese friend of my husband introduced us to the best way to eat pineapple - sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and a bit of lime juice. It's oh so good!

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: odkaty

                                                      When I was at the Dole Pineapple Plantation I was offered some salt for my pineapple. At first I wondered why ruin the pineapple with salt. Then I recalled putting salt on watermelon and liking it. The counter person explained that the closer you get to the equator the more you will see salt being put on food. She said it has to with concern of excess perspiration and dehydration. I never researched her explanation but thought it may have something to do with salt consumption slowing perspiration. As for local USA use of salt on fruits and melons I think it has something to do with people from the lower regions coming to the USA and satisfying their taste expectations for how foods should be enjoyed (plenty of salt) and then easily passing the idea on to the rest of us who already learned to eat more salt than we need. Anyway, I agree that salt on pineapple is very good. Now I will try my fav -- pepper.

                                                      1. re: JeetJet

                                                        In the 70's and 80's, the U.S. Military (Air Force, at least) had a mandatory policy for issue and taking of salt tablets in hot weather areas. When the temperature reached a certain degree all personnel involved in any type of physical activity were required to take salt tablets and 8 ounces of water every hour to prevent dehydration and heat stroke.
                                                        Many of the dining hall meals were also salt laden during high temps.
                                                        This may be why I noticed more food salt usage in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines.

                                                        1. re: hannaone

                                                          "When the temperature reached a certain degree all personnel involved in any type of physical activity were required to take salt tablets and 8 ounces of water every hour to prevent dehydration and heat stroke."

                                                          ... and hence the idea behind Gatorade was borne at the University of Florida.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            Interesting. I looked-up Gatorade on Wiki and found that the “drink is intended to rehydrate and to replenish the electrolytes (sodium and potassium salts) depleted during aerobic exercise, especially in warmer climates.” I have been drinking it recently but I have also been drinking Dasani by the case. Dasani is a bottled water from the Coca-Cola company. The label states it taste good because it is purified and has minerals added. I also looked it up in Wikipedia and found that it contains trace amounts of minerals including Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), potassium chloride, and salt. Maybe we like salt more than we know.

                                                            Gatorade
                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gatorade

                                                            Dasani
                                                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dasani

                                                    2. In Mexico fruit is sold by vendors, and often accompanied by lime, salt, and chili powder. Quite tasty. Salt does seem to help with acid fruits, such as grapefruit. I wouldn't think of eating grapefruit without sprinkling salt on it.

                                                      Also, everyone seems to like my apple pie, if I do say so myself. People comment on how good it is, and it always surprises me, because an apple pie is an apple pie, right? Not much room for variation there. But I always do put a little bit of salt in the mix....maybe that's the secret?

                                                      1. I almost always put salt on pineapples to bring out the sweetness unless the pineapples are sweet enough by itself like the kind you get in Taiwan.

                                                        I also like sprinkling a little salt on nectarines (while still crunchy) and let it sit for a few minutes before eating them.

                                                        I soak sliced apples in salt water for a few seconds to prevent them from turning dark.

                                                        1. in india we ate bananas and guavas with salt & fresh pepper. don't knock it til you try it, esp on a wicked hot day with no ice water in sight (when i end up craving it).

                                                          1. adding onto the pineapple one...

                                                            after cutting up one into strips my parents would always soak it in a salt water bath and we would keep in the fridge in the same bath. the salt would permeate a bit and would do a number on the bitterness/sourness. you could pretty much throw a sour but somewhat ripe pineapple into that saltwater and it would be either sweet or tasteless when you pulled it back out.