Why do warm foods taste less salty

Maybe I’ve been living the bachelor life too long (lord knows I’ve been eating my own cooking way too long) but I got to thinking while eating a cold two-day-old omlette.

Why do foods taste less salty when their warm than when they’re cold?

I’ve especially noticed it with cold, plain noodles, but noting is exempt so far. Garlic and other spices seem more noticable with cold foods as well.

Any ideas?


My vague recollection is that there are only four basic taste areas on your tongue (I remember salt and sour but can’t remember the other two). I also remember that holding ice in your mouth numbs some of the taste areas.

It could be that when you are eating cold food the “non-salt” areas are getting deadened slightly and the salt areas aren’t, which makes the food taste saltier. More specifically, all other tastes are lessened so the salt taste stands out more.

Since there are only four tastes, most of what we call “taste” is really smell. Cold food is probably giving off fewer vapors which means less smell. Again, the salt taste stands out more.

It’s been a long time since high school biology so this is a marginal WAG but I think I’m remembering correctly. Anyone with more recent knowledge feel free to correct me.

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Dennis Matheson — Dennis@mountaindiver.com
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