Salt And Pepper Is A Perfectly Unique Way To Spice Up Your Apple A Day

The maxim that variety is the spice of life is at odds with the age-old nutritional advice to eat an apple every single day. Of course, biting into your daily dose of Honeycrisp (or your other favorite apple variety) doesn't have to be boring. Sprinkling salt and pepper on sliced apples is a perfectly low-stakes way to test out the combination. If nothing else, it will make your compulsory fruit intake a little more interesting.

Salt has always been an essential ingredient in sweet treats. According to the Seattle Times, salt "sharpens and brightens the flavor" of baked goods, keeps them fresh for longer, and helps promote strong gluten structure and even browning. It hasn't been until fairly recently, however, that salt has stepped out from behind its batter curtain and taken more of a spotlight on the sweets stage. It's no wonder Samin Nosrat calls salt "the single most important ingredient" in cooking.

Today, all sorts of confections and sugary foods are hit with salt — usually the fancy flaky kind — to balance out their sweetness. Adding black pepper to the mix is an even spicier act that gives a resounding yes to anyone who's ever wondered whether the seasoning actually tastes like anything. 

Spice up your life

Apples are a great source of fiber and antioxidants, healthy levels of which are known to keep the proverbial doctor away. But for those who like a little variety in their daily meals and snacks, eating a plain apple every day can get a little dull. Spice up the old routine by adding little salt and pepper. Preferably flaky and freshly cracked, respectively.

As "Top Chef" famed pastry chef Malika Ameen told Eater, salt is a flavor enhancer that "creates flavor layering" when correctly combined with something sweet. Not only do our cravings for sweet and salty foods date back to our primitive ancestors, who sought sugary plants to give them energy, but they also provide us with an equal dose of dopamine from sugar and sustenance from salt. 

Most importantly, it tastes good. "[Salt is] one of the most addictive tastes after sugar," holistic health expert Caleb Backe told the outlet. Adding a subtly spicy element to sugar and salt opens up a whole new world of flavor — and brain activity. 

Balancing flavors

If you scan your supermarket's snack aisle, you'll see that sweet and salty foods are just as popular as sweet and spicy. "Odd flavor pairings are all about balance," food scientist  Brittany Towers told Insider. "With sweet and spicy, our body processes spice through receptors in our taste buds, and the capsaicin in peppers binds to our taste buds," she adds.

Black pepper doesn't contain capsaicin, but it does contain piperine, which can have a similar, albeit far less fiery, effect. When combined with salt and slices of sweet apple, black pepper can be more than just an experiment to try out when you're bored. It could be the perfect missing flavor link for a healthy and delicious afternoon snack. If you're so inclined, you might even try adding a dollop of Greek yogurt or labneh on the side for both textural variety and a bit of tanginess.