Why are anchovies so salty?

Anchovies are small, salt-cured fish that is often used as a flavorful ingredient in dishes like Caesar salad, pizza, and pasta sauces. But if you’ve ever tasted anchovies straight out of the tin or jar, you may have noticed that they’re incredibly salty. So, why are anchovies so salty, and is there a way to reduce the saltiness? In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind the saltiness of anchovies and offer some tips for making them less salty.

If you love the savory, umami flavor of anchovies but can’t handle the saltiness, don’t worry – there are ways to tame the saltiness and still enjoy the delicious flavor of these little fish.

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    Are anchovies naturally salty?

    Anchovies are not naturally salty – they become salty through a process called salt-curing. Anchovies are caught in huge shoals, gutted, and then packed in salt. The salt helps to preserve the fish and also transforms their flavor, giving them a distinctive, briny taste. After the salting process, the anchovies are packed in oil, which helps to further preserve them and give them a softer, more pliable texture.

    How much salt is in anchovies?

    According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, anchovies contain an average of 147 milligrams of sodium per 100 grams of fish. This is a relatively high amount of sodium compared to other types of fish, which is one reason why anchovies can taste so salty.

    Is the salt in anchovies bad for you?

    Like all foods, anchovies should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Consuming too much sodium can increase your risk of developing high blood pressure, which can lead to other health problems such as heart disease and stroke.

    However, anchovies are also a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals, so they can be a healthy addition to your diet when consumed in moderation.

    How to make anchovies less salty

    If you love the flavor of anchovies but can’t handle the saltiness, there are a few ways you can reduce the saltiness:

    • Rinse thoroughly: Once you remove the anchovies from the tin or jar, rinse them thoroughly under running water for a few minutes, preferably with room temperature water. This will help to eliminate the excess salt that has accumulated on the surface of the fish.
    • Soak in cold water or milk: Another option is to soak the anchovies in cold water or milk for about an hour. This will help to draw out some of the salt from the fish. After soaking, be sure to drain and pat the anchovies dry with paper towels before using them in your recipe.
    • Try a less salty brand: Some brands of anchovies may be saltier than others, so you may want to try experimenting with different brands to find one that is less salty.
    • Use anchovy paste: Anchovy paste is a convenient and flavorful alternative to whole anchovies. It is made from ground anchovies, vinegar, and spices, and is usually less salty than whole anchovies. Just keep in mind that anchovy paste is still quite salty, so you may want to use it sparingly if you’re trying to reduce your sodium intake.


    Anchovies are a delicious and flavorful ingredient that can add a savory, umami kick to many different dishes. While they are naturally salty due to the curing process, there are ways to reduce their saltiness if desired. Whether you prefer whole anchovies, anchovy paste, or another salty ingredient like fish sauce or Worcestershire sauce, it’s important to remember to use them in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

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