Why You Should Salt Your Tomatoes to Make Them Taste Sweeter, Juicier, and More Flavorful

You’ve heard us sing the praises of salt before. It’s the single most essential ingredient in your kitchen. The biggest mistake people make when cooking is not using enough of it. So on and so forth.

By this point, then, you know to salt your pasta water with a heavy hand. And maybe you know to salt your potato water until it has reached ocean-levels of salinity, too. But today we’re here to talk about the importance of salting your tomatoes.

Tomatoes are different than pasta and potatoes, of course. They’re not dense carbs that taste like absolutely nothing unless they’re properly seasoned. So why, you might wonder, is a generous sprinkle necessary? Why—especially when tomatoes are at peak-season ripeness and taking a bite of one almost feels like eating a Gusher—must you do more?

There are two reasons. One, as senior food editor Molly Baz put it, is that “salt makes food taste more like itself.” This is particularly useful when tomatoes are used in a recipe with a lot else going on. Take this Fancy and Beautiful Tomato Salad, for example. Tomatoes are the star, but there are other intense flavors making moves, too. Herbs, lemon, za’atar, and feta are all fighting for your attention, so you want your tomatoes to be their most tomato-y selves in order to stand out. The salt actually highlights the tomatoes’ sweetness by acting as a foil. Think about it: That’s why there’s salt in nearly every baked good. In the case of tomatoes, the salt is also drawing water out, intensifying the fruits’ natural flavors.

In this ultimate caprese, the tomatoes are generously sprinkled with salt. Amen!

Laura Murray

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