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Why Do You Put Salt in Water Before it Boils?

Ask the Chef

Question:

Can someone tell me why you put salt in water before it boils, to cook things like spaghetti, shrimp, hard boiled eggs, etc. Is it for taste or to make the water boil faster?

Thank you,

Phil

Here’s what our chefs had to say:

For pasta, shrimp and anything else you’d boil (e.g. vegetables), the primary purpose is flavor. The salted cooking water penetrates the item being cooked, seasoning the food on the inside instead of just the exterior surface.

In addition, cooking vegetables in water salted to the concentration of seawater will increase the speed at which the vegetables soften and prevent the vegetable’s naturally occurring salts and sugars from leaching into the cooking liquid.

Here are a few links for more information:

Foodsubs.com

What’s Cooking America

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