Seasoning is obviously a very important part of cooking, second only to temperature control (and that’s debatable in some instances). It doesn’t just make food taste salty, it makes food taste, period. When to season and how much to season are the two factors most people worry about, but the height from which you season your food can also have a big effect on your food’s flavor. For the best, most uniform results, sprinkle salt and other seasonings from up high.
Not only does it look chef-y, seasoning food from a decent distance results in salt, pepper, and any other powders, blends, or rubs being distributed evenly across your steak, chicken breast, or anything else.
But don’t just take my word for it (even though my word is quite trustworthy): Cook’s Illustrated performed a little test to determine the best distance from which to bless your meal with flavor:
We sprinkled chicken breasts with ground black pepper from different heights—4 inches, 8 inches, and 12 inches—and found the higher the starting point, the more evenly the seasoning was distributed.
You can click here to see the photographic evidence, but it looks kind of how you would expect it to. The seasoning on the chicken that was seasoned from four inches is clumped, mostly in a line down the center of the breast; the seasoning on the chicken that was seasoned from eight inches is a bit more spread out, though missing entirely at the edges; and the seasoning on the chicken that was seasoned from 12 inches is beautifully and evenly seasoned from edge to edge.
So season often, season judiciously, season at the right time, and season with your hand held high above your food—at least 12 inches. Do it for the flair, do it for the flavor, do it for the food.
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