Menu
Search
Menu
Close

We make mistakes so you don’t have to.

Get unlimited access to ALL our foolproof recipes, unbiased equipment reviews and ingredient ratings. Guaranteed to work for you.

Try CooksIllustrated.com Free for 14 Days

Email is required
How we use your email address

Hold the Salt, Season with Vinegar

By Cook's Illustrated Published March 2011

Every cook seasons with salt, which works its magic as an enhancer of flavors mainly by suppressing our perception of bitterness. As off-putting flavors recede, -underlying flavors come to the fore. But many great chefs have another flavor enhancer in their arsenal: vinegar. Like salt, acids such as vinegar or lemon juice compete with bitter flavor compounds, lessening our perception of these tastes as they “brighten” remaining ones. We use vinegar to enliven the flavor of everything from soups and stews to sauces. Instead of just reaching for the salt shaker to boost the final flavor of a dish, consider a touch of vinegar as well. Use a plain white wine vinegar (ideally of at least 6 percent acidity, so a little goes a long way) or one matched to the other flavors of the dish (such as red wine vinegar in a sauce containing red wine). With just a dash, or about 1/8 teaspoon, you may find you need that much less salt.