When Sweet & Savory Collide

Sometimes it’s classic: ham and pineapple, bacon and maple sugar…and sometimes probably not: saltine cracker ice cream sandwiches?

We’ve all heard of eating chips with a PB&J, but I remember my sister used to crave sweet and salty to the point where she’d have to have a piece of baloney with her PB&J. Kind of cringeworthy in my foodie opinion.

At a time where salt and caramel have become a classic combo – and for very good reason – it begs the question: Do we crave sweet and salty together, and if so, where do we draw the line before it just gets gross?

Of course, like just about everything else, it probably comes down to personal taste. But some things can be an instant thumbs down. How do you feel about a blueberry bagel? I’m not all in on that. I like a savory bagel, though I don’t know why.

Here are a some examples of some odd sweet n’ salty combinations:  

Pumpkin cream cheese on an everything bagel 

Pickle juice and whiskey

French fries and ice cream

There’s actually a science to why some of these foods work well together.  In the case of a fatty meat like ham or bacon, you’re left with that greasy taste in your mouth that something sweet like pineapple or maple sugar neutralizes and gives a nice finish to.  In so many cases, the sweet balances the salty and if you’ve ever wondered why bacon is often considered the best accompaniment to everything, a reason for that is The Maillard Reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that gives browned foods their desirable flavor.

How about strawberries and pepper? Sure, we’ve heard of adding sugar to draw the sweetness and juices out of the fruit, but it is said that a light sprinkle of finely ground pepper increases the fruit’s flavor exponentially. Who knew?

And we’ve all added salt to our bakery recipes. Why? Salt helps with browning and cuts the oily mouthfeel of buttery doughs. It also enhances flavor.

Now I think I’ll head out and find some chocolate covered pretzels. What are some of your favorite sweet & salty treats? And what have you tried that made you cringe?

Ever thought about experimenting? The results could be bittersweet!

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6 responses on “When Sweet & Savory Collide

  1. Lin Randolph

    Where do I begin?!

    * chocolate covered pretzels sprinkled with toffee bits
    * chocolate covered potato chips (must be the ridged kind)
    * Wendy’s french fries dipped in a small chocolate Frosty
    * brie & fruit preserves on a crusty baguette
    * stilton, walnuts & quince paste
    * goat cheese & apricot tarts

    Oh so yum!

    1. Lin Randolph

      Ooohhh…yeah! Cheese and apples have been a longtime favorite! It all began with an unassuming mild cheddar and a sliced Fuji apple…

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