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Bread Baking & Salt

ChrisA's picture

I make my own bread and would really like to cut WAAAAAAY down on the salt.  My husband enjoys bread  (like, who doesn't), but because of a kidney disease has to keep the sodium to an absolute minimum.  I know it's needed to control the yeast, but any ideas on successful salt reduction, or is there any way I can cut it out altogether? 

Yeah, I know about its contribution to taste and all that.  Just wondering about the chemistry involved and how much, if at all, I can cut back. 

Thanks to anyone who can help me keep him healthy.

Gretchen's picture

(post #27551, reply #1 of 22)

My mother-in-law made bread with no salt.  I think you can leave it all out.  I don't know of any chemistry in bread making that would be going on except flavor.


ChrisA's picture

(post #27551, reply #9 of 22)

Thanks for the salt & bread baking input. I expect the flavor to be dull, but glad to know it should still work before I sacrifice a bunch of time & ingredients to failure.

jwoods's picture

(post #27551, reply #11 of 22)

You could also add herbs to have more flavor.  If you need a Tuscan saltless bread recipe I'll be glad to send you one.  There are several good ones in Carol Field's Italian Baking.  Good luck!

ChrisA's picture

(post #27551, reply #13 of 22)

Thanks for responding. I'd love to get your Tuscan saltless bread recipe. I haven't got Carol Field's book, but I'll check it out.


Ruth's picture

(post #27551, reply #14 of 22)

I've baked bread for decades, mostly saltless, and as others report, the bread doesn't suffer. If you are concerned about taste you can try gradual weaning, cutting down the amount each time you bake. One way to increase the taste is to add another rising before shaping the loaves. I've done that many times when other activities conflict with baking -- just punch it down and wait. Loaves made that way tend to be tangier.


Ruth Dobsevage
Taunton New Media

ChrisA's picture

(post #27551, reply #16 of 22)

Add another rising! What a great tip. Thanks.

Blondie's picture

(post #27551, reply #2 of 22)

I've accidentally made bread without salt (just forgot to put it in) and it turned out fine.  I didn't even know until I tasted the bread.  It rose just as it always has.  No salt makes for a pretty dull loaf, but I suppose that one gets used to it.  The Tuscans (as I recall) even have their own saltless bread that is supposed to be wonderful.  Apparently it doesn't get moldy because there is no salt to attract moisture.

Gretchen's picture

(post #27551, reply #3 of 22)

I've accidentally made bread without salt (just forgot to put it in) and it turned out fine.  I didn't even know until I tasted the bread

Yeah, I REALLY hate it when that happens.

Blondie's picture

(post #27551, reply #6 of 22)

Yeah, I REALLY hate it when that happens.

Naturally I forgot the salt in the bread when I was cooking for DH's family while on vacation.  I was so embarrassed, as DH and kids always brag on my cooking and baking.  I tried to rectify the situation the next night by transforming my mistake into bread pudding, but it still tasted off. 

syl's picture

(post #27551, reply #8 of 22)

YES! In the Middle Ages, there was a salt tax and so they did without and still do - sometimes.

The bread will rise and be fine but flat TASTING. One could try adding herbs of choice, EVOO, garlic/onion, celery and pepper, low sodium soy sauce, a smidge of salt (1/2 t.),stuff like that there.

Try everything!



Zone 6b Shenandoah Valley

gjander's picture

(post #27551, reply #4 of 22)

Tuscan bread is made without salt.  It's kind of strange at first, but balances nicely with salty proscuitto or pecorino cheese.  Of course, you won't be eating it with those foods if you are trying to cut down on salt...

madnoodle's picture

(post #27551, reply #5 of 22)

When I was a kid my Dad had to go for some kind of medical test which required he eliminate salt from his diet for a week beforehand.  My Mom baked bread without salt--it tasted terrible (to me), but otherwise was just fine.

Canada:  where different coloured money makes sense.

What if there were no hypothetical questions?


KyleW's picture

(post #27551, reply #7 of 22)

As others have mentioned here, Tuscan bread is typically low/no salt. As you state in your original question, salt has the effect of checking the yeast, as they are mortal enemies. If you are concerned about the yeast getting carried away in the absence of salt, you can use less yeast. Salt is in no way shape or form required for bread baking. 


At weddings, my Aunts would poke me in the ribs and cackle "You're next!". They stopped when I started doing the same to them at funerals.

ChrisA's picture

(post #27551, reply #10 of 22)

Thanks for your info. re. leaving out the salt in bread. You sound like the voice of authority! I'm giving it a try.

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #27551, reply #12 of 22)

My brother had kidney disease as well (he has since had a kidney transplant and all is now well) and we had to be very careful with salt and the amount of fluids he consumed.

His diet allowed "salt normally used in cooking" although I still cut that way back - he once saw me adding some salt to water to cook pasta and accused me of trying to kill him - and nothing could be further from the truth, as I love him to pieces.

I hope someone can assist you - I know how difficult that diet can be!



wop's picture

(post #27551, reply #15 of 22)

   The typical bread in Tuscany is made totally without salt. As far as consistancy and looks it is identical to the other large piece types of bread, it's just a touch tasteless because of the lack of salt but is usually served with very savory dishes to compensate. Anyway I don't think the salt in bread is a necessity except for flavor.


jwoods's picture

(post #27551, reply #17 of 22)

Salt is also used to control yeast growth in bread making.

Tuck's picture

(post #27551, reply #18 of 22)

Chris, I am not quite sure I understand.  My father had to go on a salt free diet many years ago and it was a struggle for my mother.  Since I am a salt lover I decided to quit using it for a while - this was a couple of years ago.  I made my own condiments and although I found it strange at first it didn't take long to get used to it, but what I did notice was how very salty some foods were even without the addition of salt - even some of the vegetables.  And the purchased condiments I had been using were inedible, just too salty.  Herbs and spices are great for helping with flavoring and I found dill and lemon gave the biggest pseudo "salt" taste.  I know you can make bread without the salt or you could decrease the amount in the recipe but how much salt is your husband actually getting in 1 or 2 pieces of bread?  Just curious.
edited cause I can't spell.

"Crisp crusts crackle crunchily"

Edited 4/3/2003 7:25:01 PM ET by tuck

kai230's picture

(post #27551, reply #19 of 22)

I found dill and lemon gave the biggest pseudo "salt" taste. 

I agree, and use a lot of both, plus limes which are way cheaper here. I also basically cut out salt "on everything" years ago, but still use it on melons, potatoes, tomatoes, and radishes.

Once upon a time I tried to duplicate a salt substitute my GF concocted (it used onion powder and 3 other ingredients IIRC), but I got sidetracked.

ChrisA's picture

(post #27551, reply #20 of 22)

To most people, probably not that much sodium in a couple of pieces of bread, 200-300 mgs. But for my husband, that's about a third of what he's supposed to limit to daily. Hate to use that much of the daily allotment on bread.

Tuck's picture

(post #27551, reply #21 of 22)

Thanks for explaining Chris - makes sense now.  Have you found any good sites for low/no salt recipes to help you out? 

"Crisp crusts crackle crunchily"

ChrisA's picture

(post #27551, reply #22 of 22)

Haven't found any good sites for no-salt bread, but to tell the truth haven't been looking too hard. Had a lot of stuff come up the past week & been sidetracked. For the most part, people say to just try leaving it out, period. Just add other seasonings to pump it up a little. Did make some whole wheat rolls totally w/o salt. Rose fine & texture good, but even my husband who's used to little or no salt said they were a little flat. Next time I'm going to add some salt-free dried vegetable soup seasonings I have in a cupboard somewhere.