02 Jan Why Your Body Needs Salt & 6 Essential Salts in the Kitchen
Salt is an essential ingredient, which always have on hand when cooking. It can help rich flavors and improve taste and textures of foods. Different types of salt naturally come from either seawater or from rock deposits.
Humankind started “harvesting” salt as long as 7,400 years ago. Salt financed Christopher Columbus when he discovered the Americas; it was one of the causes of the French Revolution and inspired Gandhi to lead a protest of 100,000 of his fellow citizens to defy British Rule by avoiding the hated British Salt Tax. The word “salary” comes from the Latin word for salt and your word for “salad” comes from the Latin word for salted.
The modern world produces 259,000,000 tons of salt per year. Can it be that our obsession with salt is all about your love for good food, or is there more to it?
What is Salt?
Salt or sodium chloride is “a white crystalline substance which gives seawater its characteristic taste and is used for seasoning or preserving food.”
Chemically described as NaCl, sodium chloride, or salt is essential to the maintenance of life on the planet. In the culinary world, salt is one of the most essential ingredients to flavor and season food.
People also use salt industrially; more than 12,000 uses for common table salt have listed so far. Amongst its uses, is the ability to lower the melting point of ice? By adding salt to snow, the snow melts at lower temperatures and roads can be de-iced and made safe quickly.
Why Salt Has a Bad Reputation?
As we mentioned above, every living creature that exposes to salt will dehydrate, become inactive or die, depending on how much salt is involved. Salt then, if over-indulged in, becomes toxic to humans beings – and then it can kill you.
Salt is the primary controller of fluids in the body. Put differently, it regulates how much fluid is retained and how much fluid (water) is released by the body.
When we consume too much salt, the body absorbs excess water and this can cause severe increases in blood pressure and put a tremendous strain on the heart.
Keeping in mind that high blood pressure is famous as the “silent killer” – many people show no symptoms before it kills them – while passive sodium (salt) intake is hard to measure in a world where we are overwhelmed by processed foods saturated in salt, salt intake has become problematic.
In the U.S., the average male consumes 4.240 mg of sodium per day and the average female 2.980 mg per day. Compare this to the recommended 2300 mg sodium per day that is considered healthy, and the size of the problem becomes quite clear.
Why Your Body Needs Salt?
Salt is hypertonic in nature, which means that it determines how much water will flow into or out of specific cells in animal bodies. As a rule, any living creature exposed to salt will dehydrate and either die or become inactive.
Within your bodies, salt dissolved in fluids form electrolyte solutions that regulate the body’s hydration, blood acid levels, and muscle function – for example, when we become salt depleted, muscle cramps and overall fatigue immediately strike us down.
An electrolyte imbalance caused by salt depletion will lead to heart problems, neurological inefficacy, oxygen delivery problems, fluid imbalance, and acid balance disturbances, which might lead to drowsiness, stupor, coma and even death in severe instances.
6 Essential Salt in Your Kitchen
Table salt, literally, is the salt most often provided in salt shakers on tables. Table salt, as a rule, comes from halide deposits that are associated with limestone, dolomite, and shale – deep underground. You have to mine the salt for bringing to the surface. Table salt is highly processed to remove minerals and additives and to ensure its deep white color – only the purest form of halide is white; most of the halide mined are colored purple and need white-bleaching.
To help to prevent table salt from clumping and to keep it flowing, people will add tricalcium phosphate and magnesium silicate. Afterward, Iodine is added as well for the benefit of thyroid gland efficacy.
2. Flower of Salt (Fleur De Sel)
Fleur de sel is a salt that forms on the surface of the sweater as it evaporates. Most of the sea salt will drop to the bottom as the water evaporates, where it will form ordinary sea salt. The fleur de sel are salt crystals that float to the surface of the water and are “harvested” by hand.
Today, this process of “harvesting” is still very popular in France, Spain, and Portugal.
These crystals are very low in sodium, gentle on the palate and very hard on the bank balance; fleur de sel are the diamonds of the salt pyramid.
3. Celtic Sea Salt
Harvested in the north of France in clay ponds built near to the shore, Celtic sea salt remains behind as the seawater evaporates. It is “harvested” with wooden tools and not chemically treated at all. It is sundried and contains the same elements contained in seawater – which lends a grey appearance to it. It is excellent on fish and meat, both for cooking and as a condiment.
4. Hawaiian Salt
Traditional Hawaiian salts were red salts called Haleakala Ruby and Molokai Red, which comprise mixing sea salt with red Hawaiian volcanic clay. White salts like Papohaku Opal are untreated solar-evaporate sea salts, and the black salts like Kilauea Onyx are made by combining sea salt and charcoal. It adds unique color and flavor to dishes.
Rock salt, originally from salt-water lakes, is mined where ancient lakes dried up thousands of years ago. Now covered with sediment, these salts crystalize and contain impurities transferred from the sediments over time.
5. Himalayan Salt
Himalayan salts come in various colors, from white to pink, even beetroot-red. Pink Himalayan salt consists of rock crystals of salt that people found them in areas close to the Himalayas, often in Pakistan. It comes from the ancient seabed of the Permian and Cretaceous eras and is consequently very rich in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It is great as a food flavor and its colorful hue makes for great aesthetics.
6. Kosher Salt
Originally, Jewish use kosher salt for Jewish religious purposes. It had usage of removing blood from the surface of the meat.
A coarse and flavorful salt that is free from any additives of any nature, it is similar to table salt in origin but not in taste and purity. Kosher salt can use a dry brine too, and it is famous as kitchen salt: it is preferred for cooking and traditionally not as table salt. It adds great flavor that has become quite fashionable these days for adding crunch to salads steaks and even sweets.
Since food was not always freshly available when we needed it, salting is a good way to preserve it and this made human survival possible over the millennia. In culinary terms, salt is the essential flavor. Food without salt is usually inedible and uninteresting. Often, the difference between a trained chef and an amateur is their knowledge of salt.
When to use kosher salt? When to use Himalayan or Hawaiian Salt? With the addition of every nuance of saltiness, your ability to create real haute cuisine will become greater and greater. Mastering salt will make you the master of those you cook for!
What are your favorite salts an how do you use in your food? Let us know in the comments!