Salt, is one of the basic elements in a kitchen, either for a professional chef kitchen or for a good home cooked meal. So let’s talk about salt and how this important mineral is used.
Salt is a natural mineral ionic compound of sodium chloride, and one of the world’s most abundant natural resources. Salt occurs naturally in the sea, but can also be mined from salt mines on land. About 6% of the salt produced in the world is used in food, 12% is used in water conditioning processes, 8% for de-icing highways and 6% is used in agriculture. The rest (68%) is used for manufacturing and other industrial processes.
Humanity has grow around the production of salt as a valuable natural resource-civilizations have fought for it and give gold weight to it.
Even paying salaries with it – salary from the Latin “solarium” which etymology is payment salt – salt was use in ancient civilization to pay workers.
Ok, so the previous was a brief general info about salt. Now let’s focus and talk about the edible production and the benefits of it.
There are different kinds of salt made for edible use, each one with its uniqueness in delivering taste results.
- Iodized table salt: This is probably the most common type of salt and the kind you generally use to fill your saltshakers at home. It’s called “iodized” is because today, most salt manufacturers fortify the salt with the mineral iodine, which is an essential mineral for fighting off certain iodine-related diseases like hypothyroidism.
- Sea salt: This salt is made using evaporated seawater. It generally has larger and coarser crystals than table salt. It is harvested in a number of places in the world, though few standouts. Celtic sea salt is a type of sea salt harvested using a 2,000-year-old method from the water of the Celtic Sea in Brittany, France. Another type of sea salt is fleur de sel (which literally translates to “flower of salt”) which is harvested in the same region of France by manually scraping the top layer off the salt before it sinks to the bottom of a large salt pan. Fleur de sel is considered to be the cream of the crop when it comes to types of sea salts, and one of the most expensive.
- Pickling salt: This salt has no additives and is generally used in brine’s to pickle foods. Because it doesn’t have any additives, compared to regular table salt that has anti-caking agents and iodine added. Pickling salt keeps the liquid from clouding up.
- Kosher Salt: This salt got its name because it is commonly used when preparing kosher meat. It has larger, irregular-shaped, and coarser crystals than regular salt, it does a better job of drawing out the blood of the animal, which is required of kosher meat before cooking. This salt is preferred by many cooks because of its milder flavor and lack of additives.
- Himalayan pink salt: This salt is harvested in the foothills of the Himalayan mountain range and is basically fossilized sea salt. It gets its characteristic pink color from the amount of minerals in contains, particularly iron. It is generally more expensive than regular salt, but is also considered healthier and more pure.
- Black salt: Also known as Kala Namak, black salt is actually a pinkish-grey color. It is mined in India and has a strong sulphuric smell. Black salt is commonly used to spice food in Southeast Asia and has recently become more popular in the U.S. among vegan chefs who use it for the “eggy” flavor.
The cooking industry has develop other uses for salt,for example the process of cure meet.
One of the known cure process of meat is Instacure 1 and Instacure 2, so if you’re interested in curing meat, you are probably reading recipes that call for things like sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate, Prague powder 1 or 2, or Instacure 1 or 2. I research a brief explanation of what each of these ingredients is and what it’s used for, this should be enough for most cooks who are trying to understand what they’re working with.
- Instacure 1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt.
- Instacure 2 contains about 6.25% sodium nitrite, about 1% sodium nitrate, and about 92.75% salt.
These cures are used in meat preservation, often in the making of things like bacon, ham, or sausages, or air dried products like dried sausages.
Cures are used to Prevent the possibility of botulism in the meat, aid in preservation, improve the flavor of the finished product, render the finished cooked product pink in color, not using a cure in this processes will make your bacon turn grey.
Instacure 1 is used for any type of cured meat product that will require cooking, such as bacon, hams that are not air dried, and smoked sausages.
2 tsps of Instacure 1 is enough to cure roughly 10 lbs of sausage or bacon.
Instacure 2 is used for meat products that will be air-dried and not cooked, such as dried salamis, pepperonis, and some air-dried hams.
The reason for the addition of sodium nitrate in Instacure 2 is that over a long curing period, sodium nitrate breaks down very slowly into sodium nitrite.
Cures are dyed pink so that you won’t confuse them with table salt and use them in quantities that might put people in danger. Sodium nitrite, even in small quantities, is very dangerous and can kill. The lowest known lethal dose of sodium nitrite is 71mg per kg of body weight. At this level, about a tsp of pure sodium nitrite could be enough to kill an average sized adult. This is why it is mixed in small quantities with salt, dissolved into water, turned back into a uniform crystal, and then dyed pink.
Now that we give ourselves an idea on the use of different kinds of salt, is good to know that the high intake of this mineral can have serious consequences in our health, but in moderate use is a healthy beneficial mineral, and its needed in our daily life to improve our Heath and prevent diseases, the following are just few examples:
- Strong Immune System – Sea salt naturally helps you to build up a strong immune system so that you can fight off the cold virus, the fever and flu, allergies and other autoimmune disorders.
- Alkalizing – Sea salt is alkalizing to the body, as it has not been exposed to high heat and stripped of its minerals, nor does it have any harmful man-made ingredients added to it. Thus it can help you to prevent and reverse high levels of acids in the body, which in turn eliminates the risks for serious and life-threatening diseases.
- Weight Loss – Believe it or not, but sea salt can also help you in weight loss. It helps the body to create digestive juices so that the foods you eat are digested faster, it helps to prevent buildup in the digestive tract, which eventually can lead to constipation and weight gain.
- Skin Conditions – A sea salt bath can help to relieve dry and itchy skin as well as serious conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. The bath naturally opens up the pores, improves circulation in the skin and hydrates the tissues so that your skin can heal.
- Asthma – Sea salt is effective in reducing inflammation in the respiratory system. Thus the production of phlegm is slowed down so that you can breathe easier again. Some say that sprinkling sea salt on the tongue after drinking a glass of water is just as effective as using an inhaler. But the great thing about sea salt is that it has no side effects when taken in moderation.
- Heart Health – When salt is taken with water it can help to reduce high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and help to regulate an irregular heart beat. Thus sea salt can help to prevent atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
- Diabetes – Sea salt can help to reduce the need for insulin by helping to maintain proper sugar levels in the body. Thus the salt is an essential part of the diet if you are diabetic, or at risk for the disease.
- Osteoporosis – Just over 1/4 of the amount of salt that is in the body is stored in the bones, where it helps to keep them strong. When the body lacks salt and water it begins to draw the sodium from the bones, which then eventually can lead to osteoporosis. Thus by drinking plenty of water and consuming salt in moderation you can prevent osteoporosis.
- Muscle Spasms – Potassium is essential for helping the muscles to function properly. Sea salt not only contains small amounts of potassium, but it also helps the body to absorb it better from other foods. Thus it is effective in helping to prevent muscle pains, spasms and cramps.
- Depression – Sea salt has shown to be effective in treating various types of depression. The salt helps preserve two essential hormones in the body that help you to better deal with stress. These hormones are serotonin and melatonin, which help you to feel good, and relax and sleep better at night.
Is clearly that salt is a given treasure that we depend on in our life, for many uses and in many different ways, but definitely a well paid salary in a great dish!