SALTY NERD: The science of cooking with salt
I decided to kick off our inaugural post with a little flavor and talk about salt. See… what I did there? Flavor? Salt?… Anyway, these days you can look just about anywhere and see all of the negatives and disadvantages associated with using salt- mostly connected to health when used in excess. But I want to put a positive spin on using salt for this discussion as there are many benefits when it is used the RIGHT way.
Let’s start with a few commonly used types of salt:
|Table (Kitchen) Salt||Is a mineral (Sodium Chloride (NaCl)), essential human life; widely used in all types of cooking. Traditionally fortified with Iodine.|
|Rock Salt||Mined from underground deposits used in edible and non-edible forms; also used in large scale ice cream manufacturers to assist in maintaining the cold temperatures and texture.|
|Kosher Salt||Larger, irregular sized crystals, used for “koshering” or curing meats; a pure salt that contains no iodine or additives; sometimes preferred over other salts by chefs because it dissolves faster.|
|Sea salt||Created by evaporating sea water, leaving behind salt crystals containing minerals, potassium, magnesium and calcium. We’ll discuss more about the benefits of these minerals in a moment…|
To state the obvious, Salts primarily provide flavor to foods.
NOTE/DISCLAIMER: As I mentioned before, there can be some disadvantages to using them in excess, so there is a certain level of responsibility that should be used when handling them.
However, when the powers of salt are used for good, it is good to know a few things about Salt/Sodium:
- Is an important Nutrient Source – our bodies need various types of minerals salts like sodium, calcium, magnesium and potassium (naturally found in sea salts). These salts balance our body’s electrolyte levelsà which balances our water intake levels à which prevents us from becoming severely dehydrated à which then regulates our heart rate and muscle movements. So, in a nutshell, our bodies need these salt compounds to well… basically live. FUN FACT: This is also why your blood, sweat and tears have a salty flavor.
- Reduces/Removes Moisture – not only from food but just about anything containing free water that it comes in contact with- this is very prevalent in proteins. One way to see this characteristic come through in food is by making or eating jerky. Hey, let’s make some jerky. No seriously, here’s a recipe from geniuskitchen.com.
- Preserves Food like brines for pickling- a practice that goes back for centuries. Check out this lovely pickling recipe here if you’re interested; it also preserves through Curing meats and fish, etc.
- Texture Enhancement- Fresh baked breads are tender and chewy, Seared meats are juicy and tender.
And with that said, I think this is a good time to insert a TIP OF THE DAY for using salt so here we go:
“Season to ENHANCE the flavor of your foods you’re eating… if you can taste the salt in whatever you’re eating, then you’ve gone too far… Salt should not be the star of show in any snack or meal.
Wanna keep this Salty Party going??? Do you have any other thoughts or insights about salt? Please share below. Also, don’t forget to follow The Cutting Board Academy on Social Media.
Until Next Time…
Food Nerd signing off….