Seasoning Mistakes: How to Use Salt and Pepper Properly
Seasoning mistakes – we might all be making them, even if this is such a crucial step in the process of cooking. So, learn how to sidestep them by following these simple guidelines.
I love watching cooking shows. Did you know that? I wrote something about this earlier and I keep seeing more and more. And you know what is almost crucial but often times forgotten by contestants in cooking competitions? Seasoning the food they’re making. This is what the judges frequently mention, anyway.
So, for the past few years I’ve started to always season my food, no matter what it is and no matter what the recipe is. But first: what is seasoning anyway? This is anything you might be adding to the food to enhance the flavor. The basic type of seasoning is salt and pepper, but there are plenty of other things, like herbs, spices, and even lemon juice.
But of course, there are rules and specific seasoning mistakes you might be making. Here they are, be mindful of them!
5 seasoning mistakes you might be making
1. You use too little salt
Just remember that table salt is twice as salty than Kosher salt. So if your recipe asks for a certain quantity of Kosher salt and you only have table salt, then use double the amount of table salt. Everything you cook needs that sweet (salty?) sodium. Meats, all types of cooking liquids, and yeah, even salads.
2. You are not tasting your food
This is another thing that comes up quite often on cooking shows: contestants who cook but forget to taste every step of the way to make sure that the flavors are perfectly balanced. This is something that’s very easy to avoid. Just taste your dish at every step, just a little bit, to make sure you are not seasoning way too much. Especially when it comes to ingredients like bacon and other cured meats, which are already salty, to begin with.
3. You use pre-ground black pepper
If salt is the most important type of seasoning, then, even if I kind of hate ranking, I must say that pepper is the second most important type of seasoning. That means it deserves respect and to be treated with care when you add it to foods. So, don’t use pre-ground pepper. Always grind it while you cook! As soon as it’s ground, pepper starts to lose some of its potency. And you don’t want to lose that, do you?
4. You have poor timing with herbs
Dry herbs need to be added to the food at the right stage of the cooking process or they won’t do that much for your meal. Add them near the beginning of cooking, because they take a longer while to activate. But when it comes to fresh herbs, they should be added near the end of the cooking process, because they are rich in volatile oils and their flavor is strongest when they’re cooked less.
5. You use stale spices
Spices are dried buds, seeds, roots, or bark of a plant and because they are dried, they become stale pretty quickly. But you know what keeps them fresh? It’s similar to the pepper, in fact: make sure that you grind them yourself. You can use a grinder or a mortar and pestle for the task.