How to Neutralize Salty Meat

Overly-salty foods can ruin a good meal. It's possible to decrease the salt content of bacon and pancetta, but nothing can be done to remove salt from meat, such as steak or meatballs, once they are seasoned. However, you can salvage a salty meat dish by making an acidic sauce to go with it.

Overly-salty foods can ruin a good meal.
Credit: MarianVejcik/iStock/GettyImages

Remove Salt From Meat

Is your homemade bacon too salty after smoking, or is your pancetta too salty? All is not lost.

In an interview with LIVESTRONG.com, Jason Fullilove, chef in residence at Abernethy's in Los Angeles, offers a simple trick to fix the problem. "Put meats cured with salt in a pan with some water, and simmer them for a few minutes. Then, discard the water and continue cooking in a little olive oil. This will make crispy bacon or pancetta with less salt."

Unfortunately, this method isn't feasible for other meat dishes, such as steak, hamburger, meatloaf and meatballs. Frank Proto, director of culinary operations at the Institute of Culinary Education tells LIVESTRONG.com how to make them palatable. "Once salt is added, you can't remove it, but there is a way to reduce the salty taste. For example, you can pair an overly salted grilled steak with a chimichurri sauce that is acidic. The acid balances the salt."

"A dish like meatballs is more difficult to fix, because the salt is in the inside of the meat. A remedy would be to pair it with a sauce that is either acidic or somewhat blander to balance out the salt. A simple tomato sauce with little or no salt would work."

Read more: How to Neutralize Salt in Food

Shopping Tips for Reducing Salt

The National Kidney Foundation reports that consuming too much salt may cause high blood pressure, which can damage the kidneys over time. Most Americans ingest more than the recommended single teaspoon of salt per day, so learning how to shop for less-salty food can help.

Buy fresh meat instead of processed meat. Cured meats, such as bacon, ham and lunch meat, are notoriously high in salt. Ready-to-cook meats, like breaded chicken tenders and country-fried steak, also tend to be very salty.

When shopping for fresh or frozen chicken or turkey, choose varieties that haven't been injected with a salt solution, advises the American Heart Association (AHA). To avoid them, check the label for terms such as "saline," "broth" and "sodium solution."

When possible, select fresh or frozen vegetables, instead of canned varieties. If you need the convenience of canned food, look for those labeled "no salt added." Also, choose reduced-sodium condiments such as soy sauce, ketchup and salad dressing.

Cooking Tips for Reducing Salt

An array of cooking strategies can result in meals that are less salty. When seasoning food, replace some of the salt with herbs, spices, citrus juices, vinegars, onions and garlic.

Use cooking methods that bring out the natural flavors in food: These include braising, sautéing, grilling and roasting, suggests the AHA. Because potassium counters some of the negative effects of sodium, include foods containing this mineral, such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and greens.

Read more: 11 Delicious Spices That Make It Easy to Hold the Salt

Instead of cooking rice and pasta from mixes that include salt in the seasonings, make them from scratch, advocates the CDC. Rinse and drain canned beans to remove part of the salt. Cook oatmeal and other cereals without salt: If you add a little honey and milk after cooking, you'll won't think the flavor is bland.

Don't be discouraged if you miss the salt at first. After 6 to 8 weeks, you'll become accustomed to the less-salty flavor.

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