Salts & Herbs

The things we eat – Salt

Food Additive Salt – The holistic kitchen #2

Every time we pick up a fork to eat we are feeding the body a supply of medicines. It is if you eat a well-balanced meal. To me, that is 1 to three vegetables, a protein (Fish, Foul, Beef or Pork). That protein could also be vegetables like beans or things like spinach or bok choy (Chinese cabbage).

The seasoning that we use to make the things taste better that we eat are not only nutrients to help maintain our body but in excess can be bad for us as well. We will start our journey of food additives with SALT. It will be one of the few additives that we will be discussing that is not a plant.

Salt flavors food and is used as a binder and stabilizer. It acts as a preservative as most bacteria can not thrive in the presence of salt. Just 500 mg of salt helps us keep the right balance of water and minerals, conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles. In excess It also makes the body retain more water. When water is kept in the body, it causes our blood pressure to go up which can lead to cardiac problems and may damage the kidneys.

We need to control the amount of sodium that we consume daily. Most of the salt in an average diet comes from processed food. We need to watch the salt the following packaged items can contain large quantities of salt: bread/rolls, cold cuts/cured meats, soups, savory snacks (chips, popcorn, pretzels, crackers) and cheese. About 75% of the average American salt intake comes from processed foods. There is no set standard for salt intake as that is more of age and specific related thing. It is said that the minimum is about 500 mg and the max should be about 1500 mg ( 1 teaspoon = 5000 mg ). When you are looking to control salt intake you need to eliminate most canned and packaged item; you need to read the labels on all packaged items. In short, you need to prepare meals from scratch or as close to scratch as you can.

Different types of salt are found all over the world. It comes in a variety of colors, pink, gray and black. Not all salt is the same. Some salts are chunky and crunchy and others are flaky. Some salts are more salty than others, so when switching salt you need to taste often. The colored salts are commonly refereed to finishing salts and are used to enhance the visuals and flavor of food. Just like orange and chocolate or pork and strawberry and vanilla or goat cheese or perhaps butter and radishes with a sprinkle of sea salt. Because of the unique flavors some salts pair better with different foods. This is not an exaustive list of salts but a good sampling. Just with white salts you can find a large variety of taste, textures and crunch. When a salt is used at serving time it is refereed to as a finishing salt.

White or kosher salt is used for everyday cooking. A seasoning salt.

Sea Salt is another everyday salt it enhances the flavor of vegetables and seafood. Sea salt can also be a finishing salt used not only for flavor but texture. A seasoning salt & finishing salt. Sea salt is produced from evaporating the water in shallow ponds.

Gray salt such as fluer de sal ranges in color from gray to gray green it is best paired with stakes, it adds a slight crunch and improves the flavor. It also goes well with vegetables and seafood. A finishing salt.

Himalayan Salt is pink in color and pairs well with poultry and fish. It has a slight mineral flavor. A seasoning salt & finishing salt. Himalayan salt is deposits of salt mixed with minerals found in the mountains. The minerals give it its a pink color.

Red salt or Alaea Salt is best for roasting or grilling, and in rubs. The trace minerals give it a buttery flavor with a crunchy texture it goes well with seafood. A finishing salt. Clay gives it’s color.

Black salt pairs best with fish and pork it has a sulfuric aroma with a silky texture, a earthy flavor is best on sushi and grilled meats and veggies. A finishing salt. Activated charcoal or volcanic particles give it the black color.

Other salts are best used for canning and preserving. Some salts have anti-caking agents added and iodine. Typical table salt comes from salt deposits in the ground; it is processed to remove impurities ground fine and has anti-caking agents and Iodine added. Iodine, a trace mineral, was added to salt in 1924 to prevent goiter and hypothyroidism, medical conditions caused by iodine deficiency. Iodine is mostly needed in inland areas not close to the sea. Americans on average consume about 3,300 milligrams of sodium per day. The lack of sodium can cause issues as well. However the elderly are the population that experiences the most problems with either too much or too little sodium.

You also have a variety of salts that have flavors added, like Applewood, Cheerywood, Alder, Hickory smoke.

We do not use table salt as we eat well balanced meals including shellfish which contain iodine. We use Kosher white salt.

Just in case you want to sample a variety of salts you can find a sampler pack here. It contains 17 salts.

Don’t forget to include a salt pig, salt cellar or container for your salt.

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