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Did the wartime generation salt their food more than we do today?

(120 Posts)
MaryTheBookeeper Wed 11-Nov-20 03:38:53

I'm just reminiscing about both my grandmother's cooking, it was very flavoursome. I know one of them would have a pile of salt on the side of the plate. The other one I never watched cooking but I cannot replicate the taste of her food. This came to mind after watching Nigella on tv recently, she seemed to throw in a large handful. Do you think they used more salt in the past?

OceanMama Wed 11-Nov-20 03:47:27

I think they did use more salt in the past. Both my mother and MIL used to salt veges when they boiled them. I never do. I also cut back salt in recipes and choose lower salt options if buying things like premade stock.

Granny23 Wed 11-Nov-20 04:45:23

My OH had high blood pressure. He had always sprinkled lots of salt on food and was advised to cut right back. So, I stopped using salt when cooking and hid the salt cellar. I have always had low blood pressure and it became so low that I was taking dizzy turns, sometimes passing out. Luckily, my GP was also OH's GP - he asked me if I had cut out salt from both our diets, which of course I had. I got strict orders to ensure I got enough salt and was prescribed a daily packet of salted crisps {grin

Ashcombe Wed 11-Nov-20 06:11:44

Granny23 I like the sound of your GP!

I’ve cut out salt completely from cooking and do not routinely provide salt on the table although my late MiL always asked for it and salted her meal without even tasting it! One becomes accustomed to life without salt in much the same way as giving up sugar in drinks.

But, yes, more was used by previous generations. Perhaps it’s from olden times when salt was widely used as a preservative so everyone developed a taste for it!

Calendargirl Wed 11-Nov-20 06:47:12

Definitely used more years ago, food was salted as a matter of course.
Many older cake recipes, I’m thinking of Be Ro, tell you to put a pinch of salt in with the ingredients. I never do, don’t know if it would bring out the flavour or what.

Bellasnana Wed 11-Nov-20 06:57:57

Calendargirl, I always understood that a pinch of salt in cake recipes was to activate the baking powder or raising agents in the flour.

I have always salted my cooking, not excessively, but food is pretty tasteless without it.

OceanMama Wed 11-Nov-20 07:00:26

I think you get used to the taste of lower salt diets. Someone in my family has to have a very low salt diet, so we keep it low. Now anything with normal salt levels just tastes too salty.

My mother was great for using lots of sugar, as well as salt. I try to avoid both.

shysal Wed 11-Nov-20 08:28:34

My MIL's tomato sandwiches were inedible due to the massive amount of salt.
I do add a little to my cooking, it enhances the flavour in my opinion, but never put it on my plate. My grandmother used to say 'a pinch of salt in everything but custard'.

Whitewavemark2 Wed 11-Nov-20 08:31:25

Yes mum was always very liberal with salt.

I suppose it was at a time when the link between high blood pressure, stroke etc and salt had not been established.

Blinko Wed 11-Nov-20 08:35:17

The Scots have a thing with salt don't they? It really does work to enhance the flavour of porridge. I still like honey with mine too, though.

dragonfly46 Wed 11-Nov-20 08:35:50

I always cook vegetables in salt water but do not put salt on the table.

jusnoneed Wed 11-Nov-20 08:37:37

I have noticed how much salt my Dad puts on his food - too much especially now he has been diagnosed as having high BP. My OH is another one who automatically puts salt on food without tasting it - I do put a bit in veggies when cooking. I have over the years cut down on amounts though.

One of my friends never puts salt in her cooking and raised her two sons, now in their 30's, without it so they think too much salted food tastes awful. It's all a question of what you are used to.

Dorsetcupcake61 Wed 11-Nov-20 08:48:13

My mum who was born in the 1930s rarely used salt for the last 30years of her life due to high blood pressure. Having not grown up with salt I rarely add it to cooking and dont miss it. The only exception is chips from a chip shop.
I have known older people liberally add salt to meals but sometimes as age sense of taste lessens.
Maybe before so much processed food was available salt was more essential. The levels of salt in most foods is shocking. I remember buying a chocolate Angel Delight type mix and it tasted so salty we didnt eat it. It seemed a strange addition but it was there!
I dont understand the cake thing. Apparently its important for flavour. I recently made a spiced pumpkin loaf. It was for a 2lb loaf tin. I know pumpkin is bland,but there were lots of spices. The recipe called for 5 teaspoons of salt!!! I just added a pinch!

Susan56 Wed 11-Nov-20 08:51:00

My grandma used to put so much salt on her food it was like a crust🤮same with sugar.

I don’t use salt in cooking,the only food I like it on is chips.

Lexisgranny Wed 11-Nov-20 08:59:08

My parents and grandparents always added salt and pepper to their food at the table, even though the food was seasoned during cooking. I must admit I do add salt to beef or tomato sandwiches, and on the very rare occasion that we have chips. Otherwise just add a small amount of salt to vegetables as they cook.

mokryna Wed 11-Nov-20 08:59:30

Although I never use salt when cooking vegetables, it is said that when it is added boiling point is changed. I don’t know whether that is for the better or not.

Greyduster Wed 11-Nov-20 09:04:47

Salt was a fixture on our dinner table growing up and my mother salted her cooking liberally. I do think that salt enhances the flavour of food, and I have to admit that, until my GS came along and we started feeding him, I put it in almost everything we ate as a matter of course. My DD didn’t salt anything she cooked for him and so neither did I. However, he developed a condition where his consultant recommended that she make sure he had a reasonable amount of salt in his diet. I have never been able to stop DH showering his food with salt, so I’ve given up.

harrigran Wed 11-Nov-20 09:04:59

My mother used to add salt to the water when cooking vegetables and she would sprinkle salt over our food before placing it in front of us, as children.
I stopped using salt when I trained as a nurse so that is 50+ years and I really do not miss it.
When my mother was told she should cut it out of her diet she took it very badly saying it would spoil her pleasure of eating.

TwiceAsNice Wed 11-Nov-20 09:09:24

My MIL would use a lot of salt in cooking. I put a small amount in veg when cooking for family but nothing when I cook for myself. I think it’s the same with sugar. I make cheese straws and the recipe says a spoonful of sugar in the pastry . Why would you put sugar in something savoury? I never do and my girls think my cheese straws are amazing so happy days!

Teetime Wed 11-Nov-20 09:10:46

I remember my mother salting the potatoes and one of the few cooking tips she gave me was 'where you put flour you put salt. However we did not have any condiments on the table and I grew up not using it. Just as well as from my early twenties I have had high blood pressure treated with drugs. I dont even have any salt in the house I use spices and herbs for flavour. I am horrified when I see people putting salt on their meals. People at the golf club seem to cover everything in salt and I know many of them who are older and have heart problems.

JuliaM Wed 11-Nov-20 09:12:21

Most everyday foodstuffs such as canned Baked Beans, Soups, Stock cubes, and even the humble Fish Finger or Sausage has had its salt content reduced by the manufacturers in recent years. Salt was once used as a reliable preservative in the food industry, but with better methods and preservatives now available, there is no longer the need for this, plus the fact that more frozen vegetables are sold these days than the heavily salted Canned variety ever was.

Spangler Wed 11-Nov-20 09:13:52

The wartime generation ate far less, salt laden, processed foods, apart from that wretched SPAM. Both my grandmothers made their own butter, gold top milk was popular for that purpose. Bacon and sausages would have been the only regular processed foods. Some sauces of course, but nothing like the amount of hidden salt that we consume today.

Look at the ingredients on any packet and instead of salt it will read: "Sodium." I wonder why that is?

Grannynannywanny Wed 11-Nov-20 09:14:09

My dear old Dad used to salt his meals so liberally that when his plate was lifted there would be a ring of salt on the table

MaizieD Wed 11-Nov-20 09:20:25

I haven't used salt in cooking vegetables since my children started solid food. We steam just about all veg now, so couldn't salt them in cooking even if we wanted to. Vegetables taste absolutely fine without it (very nice, in fact).

Not that this is particularly virtuous on my part because I actually love salty things, like ham and bacon and strong cheese. But the only food on the plate I'd salt would be chips, roast potatoes and tomato (which has to be salt and peppered!).

MrsEggy Wed 11-Nov-20 09:23:51

My mother used to have a pack of salt tablets (about as big as sugar cubes) in the kitchen, and add one to potatoes and greens when they were boiling. There was a saying "salt is what makes potatoes taste nasty if you forget to put it in". Also "kissing a man without a moustache is like eating an egg without salt!" I don't add salt to any vegetables now, but I do like salt on my boiled egg.