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Sea salt (left),Rock salt (right)

Salt, the most popular food seasoning, is a dietary mineral essential for animal life, composed primarily of sodium chloride. Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodised salt. It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light grey in colour, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. Edible rock salts may be slightly greyish in colour due to this mineral content.

Overconsumption of salt increases the risk of health problems, including high blood pressure. In food preparation, salt is used as a preservative and as a seasoning.

Kosher salt is a term that describes one of the most commonly used varieties of edible salt in commercial kitchens today. Kosher salt has a much larger grain size than regular table salt, and a more open granular structure. Like common table salt, kosher salt consists of the chemical compound sodium chloride. Unlike common table salt, Kosher salt typically contains no additives (for example, iodine).

The term kosher salt is restricted to North America; in other parts of the world, it is called (coarse) cooking salt.

Kosher salt gets its name not because it follows the guidelines for kosher foods as written in the Torah, but rather because of its use in making meats kosher, by helping to extract the blood from the meat. Because kosher salt grains are larger than regular table salt grains, when meats are coated in kosher salt the salt does not dissolve readily; the salt remains on the surface of the meat longer to draw fluids out of the meat.

Kosher salt can be used in nearly all applications, but it is not generally recommended for baking with recipes that use small amounts of liquid. If there is not enough liquid, the kosher salt will not dissolve sufficiently, and this can result in small bits of salt in the resulting product; in certain applications this is undesirable. In recipes where there is enough liquid to dissolve all the salt, table salt can be replaced by kosher salt, but the volume must be adjusted. Because kosher grains occupy more volume (for equal weight).

Chefs often prefer kosher salt because its texture allows the chef to pinch a larger quantity of salt and evenly sprinkle the flakes on food. Also, because of the absence of iodine, kosher salt tends to make flavours cleaner and brighter than iodised salt, which has a slightly metallic flavour.

If a recipe calls for kosher salt and you do not have any, use coarse sea salt.

Great with:

  • Almost any food!

Brine concentrates

As a rough guide, use the following salt to water levels to obtain the desired concentrate ratios:

  • 16% brine: 160 ml (10.5 level tablespoons) salt to 1 litre of water.
  • 18% brine: 180 ml (12 level tablespoons) salt to 1 litre of water.
  • 20% brine: 200 ml (13 level tablespoons) salt to 1 litre of water.
  • 30% brine: 300 ml salt to 1 litre of water (etc.)

Dry salting cheese

2% salt to weight of curd (eg: 20 g per kilo of curd)

Kala Namak (Black Salt)

Also known as black Indian salt, kala namak is used extensively in Indian cuisine as a condiment or added to chaats, chutneys, all kinds of fruits, raitas and many other savoury Indian snacks. Chaat masala, an Indian spice blend, is dependent upon black salt for its characteristic sulphurous hard-boiled egg aroma. Non-Indians who are not accustomed to black salt often describe the smell as similar to rotten eggs. Due to impurities in the mineral, it is brownish pink to dark violet translucent stone when whole and when ground into a powder, it is light purple to pink in colour.

Kala namak consists primarily of sodium chloride and trace impurities of sodium sulphate, iron sulphide, and hydrogen sulphide. Sodium chloride provides it with its salty taste, iron sulphide provides its dark violet hue, and all the sulphur compounds give kala namak its slight bitter taste as well as a highly distinctive smell, with hydrogen sulphide being the most prominent contributor to the smell. Although hydrogen sulphide is toxic in high concentrations, the amount present in kala namak used in food is small and thus its effects on health are negligible.

Certain sources report that kala namak is created by evaporation of brine which has been boiled with harad seeds, others idicate that it is a natural halite mined from the ground. The salt crystals appear black in colour (hence the name), and are usually ground down to a fine powder, which is pink in colour.

Himalayan Pink Rock Salt

Himalayan pink salt comes from Pakistan, and began being sold by various companies in Europe, North America, and Australia in the early 21st century. It is mined in the Khewra Salt Mines, the second largest salt mine in the world, located in Khewra, Jhelum District, Punjab, Pakistan, about 300 km from the Himalayas, about 160 kilometres from Islamabad, and 260 kilometres from Lahore, and in the foothills of the Salt Range.

The salt comes out in a reddish or pink colour, with some crystals having an off-white to transparent colour. It is a natural mineral salt compared to standard table salt, it is pure, unpolluted, crystal Himalayan salt for consumption. Benefits include the remineralisation of the body with the over 80 minerals and trace elements essential to health. It may also helps to balance the body's pH levels, and may lead to significant positive changes to respiratory, circulatory and nervous system functions amongst others. Apart from in food, it can be used as an eye bath, to make sole or as bath salts. Sole is an excellent way to balance the pH factor of your body. With sole, you can also get rid of heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic and amalgam, as the crystal salt is able to break down their molecular structures.

In the UK, it can be purchased online from Healthy Supplies

How to make sole

Put 2 tablespoons of salt (or 2 large chunky salt crystals) into a small Kilner jar with a lid. (A Kilner jar is the best to use as both the jar and the lid are made from glass and the salt solution will not come into contact with metal).

Add good quality spring water to fill the jar up to the half way level. Stir the salt and water mix . The salt will immediately start to dissolve in the water. Close the glass lid and leave undisturbed for 2 hours.

After 2 hours take a look in the jar...if there is still salt visible in the bottom of the jar you have a 26% solution, you have your Sole

If all the salt has dissolved you have not yet reached full saturation so add another rock and come back in 2 hours!

Repeat until the crystals remain and you have a 26% saturation.

The glass can be refilled again and again with water and salt, following the same process. The sole should remain totally sterile and free of harmful bacteria.

SOLE DRINK - half to a full teaspoon of the sole can be added to a glass (8fl oz) of spring water and you can drink this. Drink every morning on an empty stomach.

SOLE FOOT BATH - mix 2 litres warm spring water with 100ml sole solution and steep feet for 30 minutes.

SOLE FOR COOKING - add a teaspoon of sole to your cook pot in the last few minutes of cooking pasta or vegetables.

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