A couple months ago, one of my room mates accidentally used a cup of salt to make apple crumble. She asked if there was any way to separate it, probably because I had recently reduced the acidity of a tomato sauce by adding baking soda. I said "probably not", but ever since then I have wondered if there is a way to get the salt out.

At this point, I would settle for a difficult method that requires a lab and ruins the dish, as long as it is still harmless to eat and retains most of it's nutritional value.

Here are some of the ideas I have thought of:

First, scrape off the oat layer, because it is the only hard solid and the salt wasn't mixed with it.

Seperate it by mass:

  • The apple crumble could be puréed and spun in a centrifuge to separate the salty water, which could be poured off and replaced with sugar water.
  • It could be atomized and sprayed sideways into a cold vacuum chamber, and then if the salt fell in a consistent radius around the nozzle, we could scrape up the salt, mix the rest back together and eat it.

Alter the the properties of the salt:

  • Is there a way to encourage the salt to form large crystals, even when it is a relatively minor component of a complicated mixture? If so, those crystals could be filtered out of puréed apple crumble with a coarse filter.

Crazy biochemistry:

  • Are there proteins or enzymes that could break the salt apart and bind the sodium to something oily that would float up by itself, leaving the chlorine to evaporate? I saw a documentary about bull sharks which mentioned that they have a gland that can absorb salt against the salinity gradient, so that the shark can expel it's salt and move up into fresh water.
  • Are there bacteria that require lots of salt to survive, and by using it, convert it into something that doesn't taste salty, and wouldn't release tons of sodium in my stomach?
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    $\begingroup$ How about just temporarily change your sense of saltiness? There is a berry that changes your sense of bitterness so it tastes sweet. Soy sauce makes salty foods taste less salty. $\endgroup$ Dec 2, 2013 at 0:17

1 Answer 1


Even if there is a method to extract salt from food, specially from apple crumble, it’ll probably ruin it.

The simplest way I can think of doing this is dissolving the apple crumble in water and blending it. Filter it and then boil the filtrate.

Given that every solid ingredient but salt is organic, when all the water boils off you should be left with salt and burnt carbohydrates, since NaCl boiling point is way above 1000 °C and a stove will reach 400 °C tops. Now, if you ever burnt sugar you know the caramel sticks to the pan, so if you’re lucky just add water again to separate the salt crystals from the burnt carbs and transfer it to a different recipient. Boil the water to get the salt.

You can add the burnt carbs back to the apple crumble but I don’t think it’ll taste like apple crumble again.

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    $\begingroup$ Nice creative thinking, but I think that'll probably fail the "retains most of its nutritional value" test. $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2013 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ That is awesome, lol! I wish I could upvote. I was hoping to preserve some of the nutritional value that wasn't already lost in the baking process, e.g. the amino acids, but I think that even in an inert atmosphere or a vacuum, they would be destroyed at that temperature. I can't find out online though, all my searching leads to paywalled articles. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Ross
    Mar 9, 2013 at 22:46

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