More about salt
In Old English it’s sealt, in Dutch zout, German salz and in French, of course, sel. It’s a word that is deceptively simple yet full of a rich and complex history both social and geologic. Salt, in English from it’s Indo-European roots, is a stately combination of the Latin, sal and the Greek, hals.
Salt is arguably the most important ingredient in cooking. Without it, most meals would taste bland and unexciting. However not all salt is created equal and there are many “types” to choose from.
A study from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York found that people who eat the least salt have the highest rates of death from heart disease. Sodium plays a critical role in our bodies by helping regulate water balance, controlling muscle and nerve function, and keeping the circulatory system functioning properly. Our bodies require sodium to regulate blood pressure and protect against blood clotting. It also plays a role in the digestive system, helping to metabolize food. Too much salt, however, can lead to water retention, puffiness and high blood pressure.
What is salt anyway?
Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl). Sodium and chlorine are absolutely essential for life in animals, including humans. They serve important functions like helping the brain and nerves send electrical impulses.
Most of the world’s salt is harvested from salt mines, or by evaporating sea water or other mineral-rich waters. Salt is used for various purposes, the most common of which is adding flavor to foods. Salt is also used as a food preservative, because bacteria have trouble growing in a salt-rich environment.
The most commonly used salt is plain old table salt. This salt is usually highly refined. It is heavily ground and most of the impurities and trace minerals are removed. The other drawback of table salt is that anti-caking agents are also often added.
Sea salt, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring complex of sodium chloride (84%) and major minerals such as calcium and magnesium and over 80 essential trace minerals. These minerals are known for their great health benefits: calcium prevents osteoporosis; magnesium is beneficial to your heart; enzymes need trace minerals in order to function. The human body is designed to utilize natural sea salt.
Kosher salt was originally used for religious purposes. Jewish law required blood to be extracted from meat before it was eaten. Kosher salt has a flaky, coarse structure that is particularly efficient at extracting the blood.
Kosher salt dissolves fast, and its flavor disperses quickly, so chefs recommend tossing it on everything from mahi-mahi to popcorn.
Kosher salt will have a different texture and flavor burst, but if you allow the salt to dissolve in the food, then there really isn’t any difference compared to regular table salt. That being said, it’s less likely to contain additives like anti-caking agents and iodine.
Fleur de sel
Another prized salt. Fleur del sel means "flowers of salt" in French and is so-called because the crystals look like lacy snowflakes. Fleur de sel is white because the salt crystals don't come in contact with the clay beds in which seawater concentrates. It is harvested from the surface of the water where it forms when winds are calm and the weather is warm. Its precious nature is reflected in its price.
Himalayan salt is rock salt from a mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan. The pink hue comes from it’s iron-rich content. These salts are rich in minerals and because of these minerals, it’s said to be useful in balancing the bodies pH, regulating water inside and outside of the cells and with hydration.
Herbamare has been a staple in Europe for decades. It’s a combination of sea salt with fresh herbs and vegetables. The raw ingredients are used immediately after harvesting: vegetables are brought in from the fields and finely chopped, mixed with real sea salt and allowed to marinate: the mixture is then dried under vacuum. This process brings out the flavour of the vegetables, yielding a truly fresh condiment with a superior flavour. A brilliant blend of celery, leek, watercress, onions, chives, parsley, lovage, garlic, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and kelp, all organically grown.