Those Incredible Salads – and Salting Them on Shabbos


by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

A recent New York Times article recommended the very best way to dress a salad. Lemon, roasted garlic, olive oil and salt. Experts say that there is a lot of Chochma in both determining the exact mix of the salad as well as how to properly salt the vegetables.

One formula for a good salad mix is as follows:

For each serving – 2 cups of lettuce, a 1/3 cup of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup of sliced cucumbers, a quarter of an avocado, cubed and 1 tablespoon of dressing.
As far as salting is concerned, experts say that one can amplify the tastes of the vegetables with proper salting. Vegetables contain tons of water. Like the kashering of meat where blood from meat is removed, salt removes liquids from solids and it does so remarkably. Cherry tomatoes become so much more tasty after they are salted and drained. Ideally, it should be done for 30 minutes. Cucumbers, also, become more tasty with salting.

The question is, may we salt tomatoes and cucumbers on our Shabbos salads?


The issue is actually somewhat complex. The Gemorah in Shabbos 108b. tells us that it is forbidden to salt radishes on Shabbos. There is a debate among the Rishonim, however, as to what the exact nature of the prohibition is. The Rambam writes (Shabbos 22:10) that the reason is because it appears like marinating things on Shabbos. Marinating, of course, is prohibited because it is like cooking. There is a debate among the Achronim whether the Rambam forbids it biblicall or Rabbinically. Rashi writes that the prohibition is because the salt works the radishes and hardens it. This is considered tikun and forbidden. The Mishna Brurah (321:1) writes that this is a Rabbinic prohibition.


The Taz explains that salting the radishes is forbidden even if one intends to eat them immediately. He further states that the prohibition is no limited to radishes but extends to other vegetables too. It should be noted, however, that the Gemorah explains that one slice of radishes may indeed be salted if the plan is to consume it soon afterward. If the intent is to leave it for a while so that the salt will remove the liquid significantly then the Mishna Brurah prohibits it.

The prohibition of salting, however, does not apply to hard boiled eggs or cooked meats. Indeed, if it is for the meal itself, salt water may also be prepared. There is, however, a prohibition in preparing saltwater for a later meal. The reason is because it appears like he is planning on marinating vegetables with the water (SA OC321:2).


What about if one marinates with sugar? The Ktzos HaShulchan (128:2) writes that it would be forbidden.


When vinegar or oil is introduced into the equation, the salting is permitted (MB 321:14). The reason is that there is no appearance of ivud at all.


One is permitted, however, to salt vegetables that are not generally pickled or marinated in salt. Thus, red tomatoes, and peppers do not fall under this prohibition (Shmiras Shabbos K’hilchasa 11:6 citing Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zatzal). Although we do find pickled tomatoes, these types of picklers only use very green tomatoes. Once they have reddened, however, they are never pickled.


When vegetables are generally pickled or marinated the rohibition applies in full force. Thus one may not salt cucumbers, radishes, garlic or onions. As mentioned earlier, however, when one adds oil or vinegar to them it is permitted.

An entire salad may also be salted if most of the ingredients are generally not salted (MB).


In conclusion we see that when preparing a salad for a meal, the tomatoes can be salted, but not the cucumbers. It may be just as well, because when one does salt the cucumbers they tend to lose heir crunch.

The author may be reached at [email protected]

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