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A lot of recipes I've been preparing lately often list salt and black pepper as "to taste" in terms of quantity. I get that the general idea is to make the food taste good, but I'm not sure that I regularly notice salt or pepper unless there is TOO MUCH of either.

When a recipe calls for adding something "to taste", what am I trying to note when I taste it? If it's a brand new recipe, how do I know if something is supposed to be bland, seasoned or salty/peppery?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

To taste is one of those awesome cooking terms that trips people up all the time. To taste does not mean to what tastes good to you, although you can use that as a determination and your dish should still come out fine for most people. To taste means that you add salt (or whatever) while tasting the dish and you slowly add until the seasoning tastes perfect. To properly do this you are going to have to train your palate, but luckily it not that hard to do. As a matter of fact, we have a pretty good way to learn it right here. The end result you are trying to achieve is the point where food tastes the most like it's self with out adding to much, this the small increments.

The important part to remember is that "to taste" is where your food lives. It's the thing that is unique to you and a part of what makes every dish you make an expression.

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"To taste" just means to add as much as needed to make it taste good to you. There's no real right or wrong answer, unless you're cooking for other people. If you don't know what the correct amount of seasoning is for a dish, it's best to leave it on the bland side. Then everyone can season their own dishes "to taste" for themselves.

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