Salt of the Earth

Nov 1


Susan Rutter

Susan Rutter

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You have permission to publish this article in its entirety,Salt of the Earth Articles electronically, or in print, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication, if possible, would be appreciated. Or an e-mail informing the writer of your use.

"Salt of the Earth!"

By Susan Rutter

©2002 Healthy YOUbbies

Saltiness is one of our fundamental aspects of taste,
along with the ability to determine if foods are sweet,
sour or bitter. The perception of salt is highly personal, based on the salt content of one's saliva and how much you're used to using. This influences how you season your cooking and food at the table. Add salt in small amounts as you cook since an oversalted dish is difficult to correct. If oversalting does occur, adding a peeled,quartered potato to a soup or stew will absorb some excess salt, or adding more water, bland starches or vegetables will absorb and increase the volume of the oversalted dish. In less saucy dishes, a splash of lemon juice, vinegar or wine can help balance too much salt.

Use of Salt:

Salt has many other functions in cooking other than
seasoning. It is a natural preservative that inhibits
the growth of preserve foods such as cod, and, in
the past, bacon and salt pork. Salt is added to butter
and cheese to prolong their refrigerated shelf life
as well as for flavours. In yeast breads, salt controls the growth of the yeast, slowing the rising time and also adds structure to the dough by strengthening the protein in flour called gluten.

Salt is also useful for pickling, helping to create an
environment in which harmful bacteria are unable to
live. Salt i often used to draw out bitter juices form eggplant and excess moisture from cucumbers. Added
to water in which vegetables are boiled, salt improves
flavour and raises the boiling point of water slightly,
enabling the vegetables to cook a little quicker. Used
this way, salt also helps to retain the colour and
nutritive value of vegetables. Since salt can also lower the freezing point of water, it is added to the ice packed around ice cream freezers so that the ice
remains frozen long enough to set the ice cream.

Salt Types:

Table: A fine-grained salt that contains an anti-caking
agent (to prevent clumping) and iodine. Iodine has been added to table salt since the 1920s to supplement iodine-deficient diets and reduce the incidence of thyroid gland abnormalities such as goitre. Table salt disperses easily in dry ingredients, making it suitable for baking recipes.

Kosher Salt: A refined salt that is coarser than table
salt. It contains no additives and is often preferred
for its fresher flavour and texture. It is easy to pinch and sprinkle, yet it dissolves quickly.

Coarse or Pickling Salt: While coarser than kosher
salt, like kosher salt it does not have any additive that might cloud pickles. This salt can also be used for cooking and baking.

Rock Salt: A coarse-grained, non-edible salt used
with ice to pack around the outside of an ice cream
freezer to speed the rate of freezing.

Sea Salt: Obtained from the sea, it is sold in a
variety of textures. Coarser textures may be used
in salt mills. Fine sea salt can be intensely salty, so
use sparingly. Notable varieties are Fleur de sel, a
delicate white salt from the northern Atlantic coast
of France. Considered by many to be one of the best,
it is a favourite of French chefs. Celtic sea salt,
called grey salt, or sel gris, comes from the salt
pans of Brittany, France and are hard, moist
crystals. Maldon in Essex, England. It is delicate,
briny and fast dissolving. Countless salts, including
flavoured salts, are available from many countries.
Considered artisan salts, sea salts have more complex
flavours with subtle nuances and are best used as a
condiment after cooking.


Salt, also called sodium chloride (NaC1), is an
essential element in our diets. It performs the
essential function of maintaining the equilibrium
of body fluids, helps regulate blood pressure and
volume, facilitates the transmission of nerve impulses,
and plays a vital role in heart and muscle contractions.

A hearty adult requires on six to eight grams of salt
a day, but with the modern dependence on fast food
and processed food, many people consume much more.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, "Most
Canadians/Americans consume an average of two
teaspoons of salt (12 grams) each day." Excessive salt
intake does not cause high blood pressure. However,
it is estimated that up to 50 percent of people with
existing high blood pressure (or hypertension) are
unable to handle sodium properly and are considered
salt sensitive. Reduce salt intake can help those people manage high blood pressure, along wit eating a low-fat diet.

Iodine is added to salt to ensure Canadians get an
adequate amount of this nutrient. The National
Academy of Sciences recently increased the
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine
to 150 micrograms pre day for both adult men and
women. The body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones,
which regulate growth, development, reproduction,
body temperature and metabolism. Besides iodized
salt, seafood and plants that grow in iodine-rich soil
are the best sources of the mineral. Sea salt may
contain a trace amount of naturally occurring iodine.

A Canadian study found that sea salt contains
approximately 1.2 micrograms pr gram of iodine,
compared to 76 micrograms per gram for iodized
table salt. Interestingly, while processed foods tend
to be high in salt, most food processors do not use
iodized salt. However, modern diets that include
dairy products and a variety of vegetables usually
provide enough iodine.

Susan Rutter: author, publisher, nutritionist, instructor
Helps the public make healthy choices and changes
in their lives.
email course: "Your Health and Your Weight"
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