Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Worth Your Salt . . . "

Some fun facts about salt . . .

Did you know . . . the word "salary" was derived from the Latin term "salarium" which was the name for a soldier's pay in the army of ancient Rome. The pay included a large ration of salt, which was a spice of high value and also a medium for exchange; thus the origin of such expressions as "salt of the earth" and "worth your salt."

Most recipes that call for salt are referring to table salt, which has additives like iodine (to prevent thyroid disease) and an anti-caking agent to prevent lumping in humidity.

Many chefs prefer kosher salt (additive-free, coarse-grained) for cooking and sea salt for table use because they have a softer flavor than table salt. 

Kosher salt is made by compacting granular salt, producing large, irregularly shaped flakes which allows the salt to easily draw blood when applied to butchered meat (koshering process). The structure dissolves easily and provides flavor without oversalting because of it's large surface area. 

Hawaiian sea salts (red or black) are specialty finishing salts. The red variety has an iron taste and is used to add color. The black variety has a sulfuric aroma from the addition of purified lava. Black salt (kala namak or sanchal) is more tan than black, and has a very strong, sulfuric flavor. 

Black salt is available in Indian markets, either ground or in lumps. 

Pickling salt is free of the additives that turn pickles dark and pickling liquid cloudy. 

Sel gris is a gray salt from France, and fleur de sel is a by-product of sel gris created when sel gris is allowed to bloom into lacy flowerlike crystals in evaporation basins. 

Maldon sea salt is a British finishing salt similar to fleur de sal. It has a light delicate flavor that is obtained by boiling sea water to form delicate pyramidal crystals. 

Rock salt is used to make ice cream. Salt comes either from salt mines or from the sea. 

Most of today's salt is mined and comes from large deposits left by dried salt lakes throughout the world. Salt preserves foods by creating a hostile environment for certain microorganisms. Within foods, salt brine dehydrates bacterial cells, alters osmotic pressure and inhibits bacterial growth and subsequent spoilage.
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  1. Have you tried salt on watermelon? Sea salt? Oh my! So tasty. I know that Jesus told His followers that they were the "salt of the earth." Interesting that salt was a part of Roman soldiers' pay.

  2. As you say, salt was part of a soldier's salary, as it was such a valuable spice. But not only as a spice, also - more importantly, actually - for preserving meat, which was not easy back in the days before electricity and the invention of the fridge! And those long military campaigns and marches, moving from place to place, meant it was crucial to have provisions that lasted more than just one day.
    Today, salt has often a bad reputation because most people have way too much of it, resulting in high blood pressure and other things. But used with discernment and in small doses, it certainly does not harm us.
    In Nice, France, I have seen dozens of different salts on the market. It was interesting to look at them all, but I do not have enough imagination in the kitchen to use any other than the average table salt, I'm afraid :-)

  3. As an Italian, I know where the word "salary" comes from.
    We study Latin in high school :-) it nothing else it's good to find a word origin.
    Love this post.

  4. Wow! What a neat post! Just to add to it ... there is an excellent book about salt penned by Mark Kurlansky ... a great read for the food nerd! LOL!

    Happy Summer!

  5. Interesting tidbits about salt.
    For Christmas, one of our sons gave me a really neat salt sampler. It has all of these little vials of salt from around the world, and a teeny little wooden salt spoon to use with the salts.
    Each salt really is different in both looks and taste.

    Have a happy day!

  6. I love salty foods but I do try to watch my intake of it these days. That said, I bought a salt sampler.of different exotic flavors and have been enjoying trying them on my morning fried egg ;)

  7. Interesting post on something we all take for granted. When traveling in Europe, I've been able to buy some salts that aren't available here.

  8. Very interesting post Mary. I've fallen in love with Maldon salt as a finishing salt, although I'm very partial to French Fleur de Sel. Maldon isn't as pricey as Fleur de Sel, so I use it more often.

  9. What a great post --- someone gave me a little cabinet with a collection of 50 different salts, and I am loving the variety!

  10. What a great post. I love all the salt facts.

  11. I try not to use too much salt but I have to admit I love salted caramel or sea salt on chocolate!


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