Why Do You Add Salt To Fudge?

Fudge is easy on the mouth. It has a smooth texture and a melt-in-the-mouth quality. The golden glow of fudge, or the deep chocolate promise of chocolate fudge, is also easy on the eye. Fudge is sweet. It is made from crystallized sugar.

Yet many fudge recipes require you to add salt. Surely this just takes away from the sweetness? Wrong! Salt is a magic ingredient. It enhances sweetness. In fact, salt enhances just about any food lucky enough to receive a sprinkling of it.

The fact salt is an elixir of sorts should not surprise you. Take a saunter down salt’s memory lanes. In times gone by, salt was jolly hard to acquire and rather expensive. In some cultures, it was so rare it acted like money in transactions.

Salt’s status may have taken a hit, now that we can get it cheaply and it is no longer valued as a means of exchange, but salt remains vital. Not only to our taste buds but to life itself.

Why Do You Add Salt To Fudge

The experts at Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia emphasize that our bodies need salt, sodium chloride, to function biologically (see https://www.finecooking.com/article/salt-makes-everything-taste-better). The 50 – 100 cells that detect flavors on our tongues respond differently to sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami tastes.

Intriguingly, researchers who wrote for ‘The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’, discovered a set of additional sugar receptors (SGLT1) on the sweet cells of the tongue which can only transport sugar into cells when sodium is present.

Salt triggers the ‘salt sensitivity’ of the tongue and sets into motion a second round of reactions with the ‘sweet sensitive’ taste buds. (https://royalwholesalechocolate.com/blog/post/why-does-salt-make-chocolate-taste-even-better/) Our taste buds are partial to the taste of salt for its own sake and to get sugar into cells for energy.

In ‘TASTE: Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good’, the author explains how bodies evolved to crave sweeter foods, which are energy-rich. Sodium is an essential mineral needed for body function, so we also crave salty foods.

Combining salt and sugar, as in salted fudge, means we are taking care of two biological needs in one scrumptious delicacy. A quick look at Yummly’s is enough to make it clear that salted fudge is very popular indeed (https://www.yummly.co.uk/recipes/salted-caramel-fudge). There are copious recipes available for salted fudge.

A little bit of salt enhances sweetness. Just a touch of salt causes neurological changes, such that subtle flavor compounds, previously undetected, suddenly pop into action in your mouth. The way salt brings out complex flavor compounds is one of the reasons professional chefs and bakers consider salt to be such a magical ingredient.

Furthermore, the chemical nature of salt intensifies agreeable tastes and diminishes disagreeable ones. Salt makes sweet things sweeter because it reduces any inherent bitterness. The sodium ions in salt make a beeline for bitter flavor compounds and smooth away that bitterness, making the sweet flavors seem stronger.

However, salt also stabilizes flavor profiles by balancing out added sugars and other sweet supplements, so that the sweetness is not overwhelming.There are a number of specialty salts mentioned in the Fine Cooking website (https://www.finecooking.com/article/a-pinch-of-salt-the-not-so-secret-ingredient-in-to-die-for-desserts) to add texture or crunch.

Maldon sea salt forms little pyramids. These pyramids break down into fluffy flakes of salt that are light and crunchy. Another salt that forms pyramids is Cyprus flake. This salt, which can also come as black salt, has a shiny, crystalline appearance with strong crunch.

The hand-harvested Atlantic Sea salt called Fleur de Sel (or Flower of Salt) has a fine texture and fluffy appearance. Himalayan pink salt is pink, with coarse, crunchy crystals. It has quite a mineral flavor. Kosher salt is fine to use when the salt will be dissolved.

A coarser finishing salt, lightly sprinkled over your finished fudge, can give it crunch. Not all these salts would work with fudge but the point is that salt brings its own flavor to the fudge, as well as serving the role of amplifying other flavors and removing bitterness.

A generous pinch of salt that’s just enough to be noticeable accents sweetness, masks bitterness, and enhances all the desirable flavors, while taming the not so desirable ones. Salt is a backdrop in many confections. It pulls the warm, toasty notes in any cooking of sugar to the forefront.

Why Do You Add Salt To Fudge

The Challenge Dairy

Challenge Dairy is all about the use of butter in making confectioneries such as fudge, toffee and caramels. They advise that if you are going to add salt to your fudge then it is better to use unsalted butter.

Otherwise, you might end up with too much of a salty taste. Use unsalted butter and add around ¼ teaspoon salt per stick of butter to the sugar/liquid mixture. The salt stabilizes the mixture and keeps it from foaming too much.

According to delicious recipes site, The Spruce Eats, the best time to add salt when you are making salted fudge is when it is cooling from around 234F – 240F down to 110F (https://www.thespruceeats.com/fudge-t2-520358) It is essential not to stir too soon to avoid getting large sugar crystals.

Cooling, the fat in the butter and the salt act to prevent sucrose molecules joining up to form large crystals. Salt acts to stabilize the mixture. Once the mixture has combined it is poured into a shallow pan and left to cool and set.

Remember that salt is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture from the air, so reduce humidity to ensure your fudge does not get too moist. Finally, you can cut the fudge into squares before indulging yourself in a dreamy fudge-powered journey into bliss.

To round off this article, let’s revisit the question. Why add salt to fudge? For biological reasons. Your body needs it. For recipe reasons. It stabilizes the flavor compounds, prevents large sugar crystals forming in the fudge and prevents over-foaming.

For chemical reasons. Sugar gets into your cells better with sodium around. For taste reasons. Quite simply, salt makes fudge taste magnificent. Salt ensures you crave more of that heavenly taste!

Katie Jones

Hi, my name is Katie Jones, and I own a fudge making business. I have been running the business for the last 3 years, and over this time, I have become quite the expert at perfecting my fudge making skills. Through this site, I will teach you everything there is to know about fudge, and how you can cook it perfectly.

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