Your in-laws are waiting. The turkey is done. One more step, and you get to pull off the best thanksgiving dinner of all time. But as you are making mashed potatoes, your head is buzzing with a million other things, and you add a few pinches of salt too many. What's done is done, and now your mashed potato is too salty. What's the best way to fix it?
Before we get to the fixes, there is a small caveat I would like to mention. All these methods below will only be effective up to a certain point. So, if you accidentally emptied the whole saltshaker into your mashed potato, then the damage is most likely irreversible, and you should accept the loss and just throw it away.
Without further ado, let's find out how to how to neutralize salt in mashed potatoes?
1. Neutralize The Salt With Lemon Juice
Add a tablespoon of something acidic to neutralize the excess salt. Lemon juice or white vinegar works excellently for this job. Be careful not to make it too sour, though.
Don't throw your mashed potatoes away just yet – lemony mashed potatoes are a real thing. They are just as tasty and are very easy to pull off. There are dozens of recipes online for this sort of dish, so there is no reason to panic. Apart from neutralizing the salt, the vibrant sour flavor can significantly elevate the overall taste of your mashed potatoes.
Many who have tried this trick have become full converts, opting to make all their future mashed potatoes with some added lemon juice. The process of turning around your overly salty potatoes is as easy as squeezing in fresh lemon juice in moderation, tasting it as you mix. You can serve the resultant dish with anything.
The possible drawback to this technique is that your potatoes will turn too sour or bitter if you add in excessive lemon. Adding too little of it, on the other hand, may not cancel out the salt.
Related article: Is Bottled Lemon Juice As Good As Fresh One?
2. Dilute It With Milk Or Cream
It's a good thing that most mashed potato recipes involve milk or cream. That means that you can add more milk to dilute the salt without destroying the natural taste of the dish. Milk neutralizes the excess salt and boosts the creamy feel of your mashed potatoes. But watch out for making your dish too runny.
Go about it slowly, adding little amounts of milk as you stir and taste. Whisk continuously and add the milk to all areas of the dish; otherwise, there will be one unhappy guest at your table.
The primary risk in this remedy is your mashed potatoes may become too liquefied. There is an easy fix for that, though, so don't fret. Just put the pot on a low heat burner and frequently stir, letting the excess liquid evaporate. You can similarly transfer the wet mix to a heatproof dish and bake for 12 minutes at 325 degrees to rid the excess moisture.
3. Turn The Recipe Around With Rice
It's easier than you think. You can get your dinner back on track, even after messing it up with too much salt. This rice casserole procedure requires that you turn around the whole recipe, which can be a bummer if you are pressed for time. But let's assume that you have leftover rice somewhere in your fridge and your mashed potatoes have come out too salty – why not mix the two?
Yes. Cooked rice soaks up salt like nothing else. You might even vote this method as the best because it's got no caveats other than the element of surprise for those patiently waiting for mashed potatoes. But chefs get the final say, don't they now?
Here is what to do:
- Combine a little bit of the rice and your salty mashed potatoes in a bowl and mix well.
- Place the resultant mixture on a buttered baking dish and add a little bit of milk and pepper.
- Finally, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.
- You've got yourself a yummy dish of mashed potatoes and rice casserole! Serve with anything.
4. An Extra Potato Or Two Will Do The Trick
Everyone with some skills in the kitchen knows that this is the oldest trick in the book. It has even turned into a myth, with some people believing that potatoes can magically make salt disappear from anything, including soups and sauces. Well, there is no evidence to back that up, so don't go adding potatoes into every other recipe that turns salty in the kitchen.
But this is a special case because it's a potato dish. By adding one or two unsalted potatoes, you can effectively dilute the saltiness. It's simple science; hopefully, you still have some chemistry knowledge stashed somewhere in your memory.
Anyway, don't worry. It works because you don't need to remove the added potatoes from the mix, as is the case with soups and other foods. Drawbacks? Well, there are none, except for the fact that you may end up with more food than you planned.
Also, here is a tip for you if you are out of potatoes. Adding a mashed cauliflower also works great and can go unnoticed by your dinner guests.
5. Add Butter, Or Experiment With Yogurt
Some chefs believe that mashed potatoes taste better the more butter you use. So why not try it? Making your mashed potatoes creamier can help to tone down the excess saltiness. It can improve the texture of your food, making it richer and tastier. Just make sure you use unsalted butter if your aim is to tackle the saltiness and not just make it creamier.
Some people have also successfully experimented with yogurt and curd. These two also work because of their creaminess and sourness. The salt flavor becomes dulled via two pathways: Creaminess and some sour notes. Mm, yeah! Yogurt and mashed potatoes. That's a meal that everyone is guaranteed to enjoy!
What About Adding Sugar?
Adding a pinch of sugar to over-salted food works, but only if you have a very slight imbalance. If your food tastes quite salty, adding enough sugar to foil the saltiness is only going to make it taste sweet with an unpleasant salty aftertaste.
So, if you want to tweak the taste of your mashed potatoes just ever so slightly, I would recommend adding a dash of milk or cream instead of sugar.
Few Things To Watch Out For
No mistake is that serious when it comes to cooking. Even too salty mashed potatoes can be turned around. However, beware of bad advice.
Some techniques, such as the ones highlighted below, will only worsen the mess.
- Adding Water: This will work for soup, but it is not an ideal solution if you want to preserve the authentic, creamy taste of your mashed potatoes. The food will come out too bland even after you bake to remove the moisture.
- Adding spices: Some spices and herbs contain salt either naturally or as an additive. Adding spices to your already too salty food might only make it worse. So, always check the label so that you won't unknowingly add extra salt to your food.
Sometimes it has gone beyond saving, and the best thing to do is to cut your losses. It is not a good idea to eat too much salt anyway, even if you have cleverly managed to mask it.
Related article: Choosing the Best Oil For Deep-Frying.