Thursday, December 24, 2009

About Salt

Salt- the history

Salt's scientific name is Sodium Chloride because it is comprised of 40% sodium and 60% chloride. Like water, salt is an important part of the functioning of our bodies. It has long been a treasured condiment and food preservtive.

For centuries,it was considered a luxury item accessible only to the wealthy. In addition to using it to preserve fish, olives, cheese and meat, the Romans used to use it as payment to their soldiers, hence the word "salary". There have even been wars fought seeking reliable sources of this "white gold". Salt was also an integral part in the development and civilization of nations, opening trade routes, developing trading ports, creating employment etc. It has been and continues to be a ritual in some religious rites, as well as for medicinal purposes.

In China, it was formed into bars and stamped with the emporers seal and used as currency. France in the 1300's instituted a salt tax forcing the populus to purchase a certain amount of salt a year from the state's monopoly.In the 1600's this unfair taxation on the French population triggered the French Revolution. In 1790, the tax was re-instated by Napolean and remained intact until after the Second World War.

Types of salt and manufacturing

There are two types of Salt, Rock Salt (also called Halite) and Sea Salt.

Rock salt is mined from natural deposits formed by the shrinking of seas during geological periods of the earths formation. Often, water is pumped into
specially drilled wells to dissolve the rock salt deposits. The brine is then pumped to the surface and heated until the water evaporates. The final product is white and has lost all of its minerals with the exception of sodium and chloride. another technique is hauling the salt to the surface for refining. Table salt is halite that has been purified by a chemical process that prevents the mineral form absorbing moisture. Each quart of seawater contains one ounce of sodium chloride.

Sea Salt generally comes from salt marshes, basins where seawater has been trapped and is allowed to evaporate under the combined effects fo the sun and the wind. It is also produced from inland seas such as the Red Sea, the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake. Contrary to popular belief the salt extracted from these former bodies of water produces a higher content of salt than normal.

Sea salt is a preference of mine, not only for its flavor but also because it adds other minerals into your dish with the addition of adding sodium and chloride, sea salt also adds minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and other minerals and elements depending on where the sea salt was mined.

Michelle from Louisiana wrote:

"...can you please explain to me why they add additives such as iodide to salt?..."

Michelle, I can answer your question partially. Thanks for writing.

Iodide (potassium iodide) was first added to our standard table salt in 1924, following the studies that have proven that the defeciency of iodide in our diets can cause goiter, an illness said to be native to the Americas. So they added .01% of potassium iodide to our standard table salt, the most widely used condiment in the world.

Salt also is almost always treated with additives to prevent it from absorbing moisture and ensure that it remains free flowing and granular.

Hope this helps and thanks for a great question...Hugs...cheffy

Salt comes in a variety of forms...

Table salt, like I said contains both Sodium and Chloride, but is not limited to the use of halite, table salt may also contain sea salt.

Coarse salt is less refined than table salt and is used widely commercially by the food industry, marinades, sauces, brines, smoked foods and the list
is endless...

Speciality salts are used for certain purposes, such as tenderizing salt which is fortified with enzymes such as papain, used to tenderize meat. Salt enriched with sodium nitrate or a combo of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate is used widely to cure meats and as a preservative. Flavored salts, such as garlic, onion and celery salts (to name 3 of a million)

Various salt substitutes are also available. My experience is that these salts contain pottasium chloride and leave a bitter after taste. If you are searching for a salt alternative, my recommendation if you have not tasted that brand to look on the label for potassium chloride and see if you can find a different one, or find a small sample of the one you are interested in. Again, this is a personal opinion, if you have an aquired taste for the potassium, then the after taste may not affect you at all...

Eliminating Salt from your diet

This is a toughy. This has been a quest of my oldest brother due to doctor's orders and is a difficult task, especially if you are a salt-a-holic...

Here are a couple of cheffy recommendations.

First of all, reduce your intake gradually for two reasons. First is to allow your tastebuds to adjust to the lack of salt intake and secondly, because a sharp drop in your salt intake can cause a sodium defeciency, and although it may not lead to illness (although it could), it can cause fatique and overall weaknesses in your body.

Read labels!!! Avoid anything that has sodium in the name in any way, shape or form e.g. sodium bicarbonate, monosodium glutamate, sodium benzoate get the picture...

Avoid canned soups, vegetables, any foods smoked, brined, fish, olives, most cheeses etc. Also, be aware that a good amount of medications contain sodium (laxatives, analgesics, some antacids to name a few)

Washing canned vegetables can be an effective way of reducing drastically the amount of sodium you intake. Of course, there is no substitute like using fresh vegetables to begin with.

If there are certain products you absolutely love, look for low or reduced salt/sodium varieties of the product.

Rambling Boy...

Yeah, I know, the mouth never sleeps...I will continue this in the next episode and discuss the nutritional advantages/disadvantages of salt...this already turned out to be a lot longer than I intended...

Gotta Run...

Hope Peace and Serenity find its way into your world today..

Peace, Hugs and Cookies,

Every end contains a new beginning, thus giving hope to men.
Tao Te Ching- The Book of Changes

Hello World
As promised here is Part II to the newsletter dealing with Spanish Foods from friends of mine. I am also going to finish up my class on salt and try (strongly emphasized) not to run my mouth too darned much...(yeah, like that'll happen...hee hee)

Nutritional Information on Salt

This is partly in response to my buddy, Bruce Rose...Bruce owns a soy product manufacturing plant in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are going to kill a couple birds with one stone here. Bruce used to supply me with tofu and tempeh when I was the executive chef/restaurant manager at an Authentic Mexican restaurant in Ann Arbor. What I did was take his tofu's and gourmet tempeh products and prepared them in the authentic mexican styles to appease our extremely large vegetarian following at this small yet rocking restaurant in Kerrytown in Ann Arbor...If you ever see any ChinaRose products in your supermarket, buy it all, and send me half..LOL....they come highly recommended from the chefmeister....

Bruce wrote: "...Yes it is an important ingredient for our body chemistry. It's the "phony" chemical salts (often used as a preservative) that seems to
cause so much trouble and concern with a high sodium diet..." In part, I totally agree with Bruce, here is why..

Sodium plays a major role in the human body.. It contributes to the metabolism of protein and carbohydrates, transmission of nerve impulses, muscle contraction, hormone regulation, consuming oxygen by our blood cells, thirst, the production of liquid in our bodies etc. It also plays an integral part in building hydrochloric acid in our stomachs...

Salt consumption is very high in industrialized nations, especially in the United States. Americans consume ten times the amount of salt recommended by health specialists. Most of our salt intake comes from food products or by-products (77% according to the USDA) The USDA also stated that as little as one-fourth and as much as one-third of our daily intake of salt is what we put on our foods voluntarily.

Excessive salt intake can lead to a lot of medical problems, especially for those "people at risk". Contributing to hypertension, cardiovasular problems, high blood pressure, water retention, to name a few. And there are those people, like the people that are on salt-free vegetarian diets, people that suffer from constant vomiting or diarrhea, those that constantly sweat among other anomalies that may be suffering from a salt defeciency.

The salt that Bruce was refering to is called E250, which is a nitrate-treated salt. It is salt that is mixed with either sodium or potassium nitrate (saltpetre) and a maximum of sodium nitrate has been added. Nitrate treated salt is used widely in the delicatessen and food preserving industries..Bad ju-ju....( Great thought Bruce, thanks for sharing...)

Salt is meant to enhance a foods flavor, not make the salt taste like food. I use very little salt when I cook, I prefer to enhance my flavors with the use of
herbs, spices, essences of vegetables etc. So do me and yourself a flavor...go hug a basil plant...

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