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Many recipes ask for a pinch of salt. How can such a small amount of salt make any difference to the taste of the recipe?

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The simple answer is: people can taste (and smell, when the substance in question has a smell) substances in very low concentrations. A pinch of salt is not a small amount at all, it is a sufficient amount to be tasted.

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    I added 100mg salt to 100, 200 and 300ml of water and compared the taste to fresh water. I could easily detect the salty taste in both the 100 and 200ml samples. I fancy I could taste it in the 300ml sample, but it would require a blind tasting to be sure. Anyhow, 100mg is the smallest amount I'm willing to call a "pinch". The largest two-finger pinch I could muster was 900mg which is enough to alter the taste of 1.8l water. A three-finger pinch (people do that right?) measured at 1.8g would be noticeable in 3.6l water. – Chris Steinbach Mar 7 '15 at 19:05
  • @ChrisSteinbach Yeah, I don't think it's usually meant to be a tiny two-finger pinch. And plenty of people just have a salt shaker so they never pinch, they just shake what seems like the right amount in. – Cascabel Mar 8 '15 at 5:26

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