Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Salt is one of the most widely used ingredients in the world, both as a flavouring during cooking and a condiment at the table, as well as a preservative for fish, meat, cheese and butter. It has no aroma but a strong flavour, and brings out the flavour of both sweet and savoury dishes.
It is an essential trace element - the human body needs around 5g a day. (The recipes on this site show salt content in grams, to help you decide what to eat.)
You can also make spiced salt by adding your own choice of spice or seeds to the salt mill.
All year round.
There are a number of types of salt to choose from.
Sea salt is a by-product of the evaporation of seawater, either naturally or artificially. It has a flaky consistency and is thought to have the finest flavour of all salts. In Britain, Maldon is one of the leading manufacturers. It has a strong flavour, so you'll need to use less of it than other types.
Rock salt is mined, and comes from underground deposits formed over thousands of centuries ago by the gradual drying up of inland lakes and seas. It has large crystals, ideal for putting in a salt mill.
Like rock salt, table salt is mined, then ground down to fine grain. Anti-caking agents are often added to it to stop it clogging up.
Black salt is dark grey, with a pinkish tinge when ground. It's popular in Indian cookery, and has a slight smoky flavour.
Celery salt is a mixture of fine table salt and dried ground celery seeds. It's good for adding to stocks or fresh vegetable juices, as in the tomato juice cocktail, Bloody Mary.
Salt is ready to use. If the grains are large, you can grind them in a salt mill. You can also pound them in a pestle and mortar - this is a useful method if there are other herbs or spices you need to pound at the same time.
In an airtight container in a cool, dry place. If salt becomes damp or wet it can coagulate - this is particularly the case with table salt. Placing a few grains of rice in the salt cellar can prevent this.
Use to flavour food, to help bread rise, to pack around meat or fish while baking for a concentrated flavour, to preserve food, such as Moroccan preserved lemons.
Benefits of salt
You may not think that table salt has any health benefits but salt is actually a great preservative which when eaten preserves the blood cells and blood vessels.
Salt can even work in preserving food. For example, salt melts ice so in the winter you can melt the ice form the sidewalk when it snows. Salt is also great for when you have a toothache, out some salt in a glass with warm water and then gargle, it can help keep a tooth decay clean until you can get to a dentist.
Salt in general has been said if used often enough that it can contribute to hypertension. So if you use it in moderation then you won't have to worry about high blood pressure. Salt in some foods act as preservative, that is why frozen foods have a high amount of sodium in them to preserve the food, as it stays frozen.
Salt does not have many health benefits but as far as food goes, it has many. Salt will take moisture out potatoes and if you put salt in spaghetti water or in water for hard-boiled eggs it makes them easier to peel and the spaghetti won't stick together.
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