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Watch Food Geek Harold McGee Explain the Wonders of Salt

It's sensational

Salt is a mineral, but it's also a unique flavor perceived by our tongue. In a new clip from Mind of a Chef, food scientist Harold McGee explains the wonders of salt and how it interplays with the five basic tastes that are known: Sweet, sour, bitter, umami, and salt itself. All cooks and bakers know salt plays an important role in cooking — even a little bit can change an entire dish. The flavors of caramel, chocolate, and even fruit are enhanced by a sprinkling of salt. Salt, as part of a brine or rub, tenderizes meat while infusing it with flavor. But most people don't know that the addition of sodium to food affects aromas and can even suppress bitterness. Because humans learn to associate salt with savory flavors, adding more salt makes our brains perceive a heightened sense of savoriness. This explains why fast food companies use so much salt in otherwise poor quality food. Listen as McGee explains the physiological affects salt has on taste and the brain.