The Epicurious files contain recipes of all kinds, from simple to delightfully complex. One recipe from the November 2001 issue of Gourmet has caught the eye of many Epicurious surfers. It’s for Salted Water for Boiling. It reads, in its entirety:


When salting water for cooking, use 1 tablespoon of salt for every 4 quarts of water.

The real reading material here, as pointed out recently on MetaFilter, is in the Reviews section. There are 777 “reviews” for Salted Water for Boiling, dating back to 2001. The gourmands over at Epicurious suggest several improvements on the recipe, including this one from ciacontra from Evian, France:

Like any recipe, this one is only as good as the ingredients you use. To make my SALTED WATER FOR BOILING I collected the individual snowflakes as they fell fresh from the winter sky. As I was concerned that the output from the local smelting plant might taint my water’s purity, I was forced to go miles away from town, high into the mountains. The fact that it was July did not make it any easier, as I could only collect a pint or so a day. By Fall, however, I had enough to get started on this delicious dish!

And a cook from Melbourne, Florida, suggests other substitutions:

This is a great recipe, but a couple of simple substitutions make it REALLY stand out! Instead of water I used scotch whiskey, and substituted soda for the salt. You can skip the pesky boiling part…just pour it over ice and you’re good to go!! (Hic)

A cook from Destin, Florida, however, found that the recipe raised many questions:

When do I add the salt? Or do I start with the salt and then add the water? Or visa versa? And whichever way, do I boil the water first? Help.

And Salty Dogg from Salt Lake City reported:

I watched the pot while I made this and nothing ever happened. I waited for hours, but to no avail. I give up.

A cook from Louisiana, however, found that the recipe was a hit:

I left this to boil for a couple of hours—the recipe didn’t really specify. Well, someone in my family must have really loved it, because when I went back to check, the pot was totally empty!! The guilty party won’t ’fess up, but I’ll definately [sic] make it again!

Exercise caution while reading the reviews, some of which may cause expelling of salted water onto your computer screen.

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