All About Salt
A Pinch of Salt
We probably all take salt for granted. It's just something we use when we cook and serve meals. There's always a salt and pepper shaker on the table and we probably reach for them without even thinking.
You cook with salt. You can clean with salt. You can bathe in salt, too, for goodness sakes!
And how about those salt lights? There is probably nothing that's older than salt. There's a lot about salt that is good. There's a little bit that's not so good. Let's sort some of it out.
Photo courtesy of wlodi.
What, exactly, is salt?
According to Merriam Webster: Salt is a white crystalline substance that consists of sodium and chlorine and is used in seasoning foods. It's a mineral. In fact, it's the only mineral that is consumed by humans as a part of their diets.
There is evidence that salt has been harvested since the neolithic period (3900 - 1700 BC). By some accounts even earlier than that - as early as 6000 BC in China.
This terrific photograph is used through Creative Commons. It's a piece of crystalized rock salt from a lake in Chile and it's from the Flickr photostream of Michael Tyler
Did you know?
If you add a pinch of salt to whipping cream, it will whip better.
Six Tips for Using Salt
Photo courtesy of KevinDooley
Salt is an incredibly versatile mineral. Some useful tips include:
If you wash your salad greens in salt water, they will retain their crispness.
Rub your wooden cutting boards with coarse salt to keep them looking bright.
Sprinkling salt on your frying pans and skillets will help keep the meat or fish from sticking.
Boiling eggs in salted water will make them easier to peel.
Fresh cut flowers will keep longer if you add a pinch of salt to the water.
Clean copper pans by rubbing with a combination of vinegar and salt.
Salt is the Spice of Life
I have five kinds of salt in my pantry. Gray salt, Kosher salt, Sea salt, Hickory Smoked salt and plain old table salt.
That's a really paltry collection and I should be ashamed of myself. My list pales by comparison to many other cooks who have more than a dozen varieties of salt at any given time.
Why do we say......
- I want to "salt away money..."
- He/she is the "salt of the earth..."
- A man is "worth his salt..."
- "Take it with a grain of salt..."
I don't know the answers and researching these phrases hasn't provided me with insight...yet. I believe they have to do with the value of salt centuries ago.
Black Salt, Pink Salt, Sea Salt, Red Salt - An excellent selection is available at Amazon.
These are just a few of the salts that are available for purchase. Seriously, check it out.
Amazon has an amazing selection of salts available for sale including the following gorgeous collection of 24 salts:
Ice, grapefruit juice and vodka in a glass with a salted rim...simple as that.
Would you like to know more about salt?
Check these Amazon links for dozens of interesting books on the subject of salt.
Not So Healthy Effects of Salt
Photo courtesy of timlewisnm
Too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure. Too much salt can cause edema or retention of fluid which may adversely affect your kidney function.
But salt, per se, isn't the only "bad guy". There are excessive amounts of salt in many processed foods. Meats, fish, canned vegetables - lots of other prepared foods have high amounts of sodium. It's a preservative, after all.
You'll probably be shocked at the amount of sodium in prepared foods. Did you know that a serving of low fat cottage cheese has more than a quarter of the daily recommended sodium allowance? The best advice? Read all nutrition labels!
So the more fresh foods that you consume, the better.
Put a Little Light on the Subject
Salt lamps are said to be beneficial as air purifiers. They're created by hollowing out chunks of rock salt to make a space for a light bulb or a candle. When the candle or light has been lit, negative ions are released into the air.
It's widely believed that salt lamps emit a healing energy. Who couldn't use a little healing energy? Sounds good to me.
Sources - Giving credit where credit is due.
Although I know a lot about salt and it's application to some cooking and cleaning tasks, I did need to do some research for this project. I've listed some of my sources here.
- About Salt: The Most Intimate Mineral
Salt pervades the Earth and seas and, not least, our lives.
- Salt - History for Kids!
History of Salt for Kids - When did people first begin producing salt? Why did they suddenly need more salt? Why was salt so valuable?
- Food Facts & Trivia: Salt
Food Reference, Culinary and cooking history, trivia, kitchen & cooking tips & facts, recipes, quotes, humor, poetry and culinary crosswords
- Salt, Salt - The Spice of Life, Types of Salt, Cooking with Salt, Salt Substitutions, Salt Compositi
Salt, Salt - The Spice of Life, Types of Salt, Cooking with Salt, Salt Substitutions, Salt Composition and Medical Uses, History of Salt