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Salting meat before cooking it

I feel there are so many recipes that say to salt a meat or fish before it's cooked. But I've also heard (and it makes sense) that doing that pulls moisture from the meat and salt should come after cooking. Your thoughts? Do you use salt beforehand?

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  1. I always salt before cooking. It does no "pull moisture from the meat." Salting after cooking does not achieve the same well-seasoned flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      I agree that it doesn't "pull" moisture out but, except for dry brines, I prefer to salt after I like the actual feel of individual grains of salt on my tongue.

      1. re: grampart

        Looks like we posted exactly the same link at almost exactly the same time.

      2. I think this is such a good question, because I've heard both things too. It's the focus of this whole Food & Wine article: http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/t...

        It seems like the author's conclusion is: "it depends". Sometimes salting earlier is better, sometimes not.

        1. When you salt before cooking, do you see that moisture? For example are there water beads on the surface?

          Another way to judge when and where moisture is drawn out the meat is to weigh it. I suspect that the change in weight during cooking far outweighs any loss before hand.

          A certain loss before cooking might be a good thing, if it leaves the near surface meat drier. Try salting, wiping dry, and then browning the meat. Does it brown any better?

          Run your own tests.

          1. there was a long thread a couple of years ago with much scientific method: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/595107

            1. Having just made (and madly devoured) a Zuni roast chicken, I am a convert to salting generously before cooking. After all, if salt pulls moisture out, where is it going? I think people conflate salting meat with the concept of osmosis. I salted the heck out of that chicken and left it, loosely covered, in the fridge for 36 hours before roasting it and I didn't see any moisture. The skin was as dry as when I patted it dry and there were certainly no puddles of moisture in the cavity or the pan.

              Salt!! Salt = flavor!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Hobbert

                Judy Rodgers wrote a nice piece about salting in the early part of the Zuni cookbook.


                1. re: Shrinkrap

                  I read that. I thought she explained it very nicely. It's a great cookbook, overall. Lots of explanations and photos, not just a list of recipes.

              2. I'll be serving the family a 10 pound standing rib roast tomorrow evening. I'll be seasoning it with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme when it comes out of the fridge about 3 hours before putting it in the oven. Tried and true method.

                1. poultry - salt and brine, beef - at the last minute before hitting the heat. still don't know where I stand on pork...

                  1. I salt most meats beforehand - chicken, turkey, roasts, steaks. Chemistry is fascinating, it enhances the meat IMO. http://www.seriouseats.com/2011/03/th...

                    1. I pepper before and salt after. I guess it was found that it was a myth. But because I believed this for so long I have always salted after. Since I heard that I tried salting things before. I noticed the salted flavour dosnt really come threw and I needed to salt after anyway.

                      If I am going to have to salt after to get the taste I want I might as well salt after and use half the salt.

                      1. Anything that I am going to salt gets it before and during cooking. Never after.