Did You Know?
Throughout much of history, salts value as a culinary staple was so high that it was used as a form of payment. The word "salt" comes from the Latin word salarium, meaning salary. In some areas of the world, salt was minted into coins as valuable as gold and traded ounce for ounce. Salt has been a prized possession since the beginning of civilization. Venice was built on revenue from the salt trade. Salt also holds religious significance. Jesus referred to his followers as "the salt of the earth".
Sea salt comprised mainly of sodium chloride, helps regulate the body's metabolism. Not only does salt sustain us, it brings to life to the food we eat. It is a basic component of taste, along with sweet, sour & bitter. Salt enhances the flavor of the food, while it is fair to say that all salts taste "salty," that may be the only thing the different types have in common. The differences in taste are significant - comparing salts are similar to a wine tasting. At its purest, salt is 40 % sodium and 60% chloride, but depending on its origin & processing, it can vary notably in taste & texture.
Table salt is often considered harsh because of additives. The additives in table salt are needed to absorb moisture & keep the salt flowing. It does not have the crunch or flakey texture that sea salts deliver. Flavor is comprised of taste, smell & texture. The difference in taste between sea salt & table salt is a matter of texture & time. Unlike table salt, which is refined and stripped of all minerals & essential nutrients, solar sea salt retains many of the ocean's trace elements, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron & iodine.
As with wine, salt, and its price and flavor depend on how it's harvested and the region or body of sea water that is used. Traditionally salt farmers have tended to the shallow pools formed by flooding low lying coastal areas. The seawater concentrates as it moves from clay bed to clay bed until the crystals form below the water's surface. The French Sel gris has a light gray color because the crystals are harvested by raking the salt from the salt beds along with some of the clay. Only about 2 dozen salt farmers still sculpt salt beds by hand. Salts from other areas must sometimes be heated & washed, which also removes some of the nutrients as heating changes the molecular structure of the salt.
What makes Cayman Sea Salt unique is the crystal clear Caribbean water and our artisanal method of harvesting. Cayman Island waters are considered some of the most pristine within the Caribbean due to small population and limited impact. The islands rising from the Cayman Trench are situated on the deepest part of the Caribbean with it's depths of 7,686 m, providing nutrient rich sea water for the production of sea salt. Cayman Sea Salt has developed a method using specially designed salt boxes or solar ovens. We harvest sea water from the east coast of the island and let it evaporate in large pans until a brine concentrate is produced. The brine is placed in shallow pans in the solar ovens until the crystals form. The sea salt is then hand harvested and allowed to air dry and packaged. The time and labor involved in this method is intensive. In total it take's about 4-5 months depending on weather. At each step the seawater and brine is filtered, the results are large-grained crystals so pure that they need no processing. This method ensures a consistent clean flavor rich in minerals.
Fine sea salts should be used to finish a dish and just a pinch brings out the flavor, by using less you gain more flavor. Cooks delight in their collections of salts from all over the world. These rare and pricey sea salts are valued for their complex flavor, crunchy texture & subtle aroma. Experts believe they not only taste better, but they are also healthier.
When traveling it is wonderful to buy locally harvested salt, it is a way one way to experience the essence of a country. What a great way to take home the flavor of the region - and enjoy it for a long time as a little goes a long way!
Articles and Resources: NOAA Explorers, GeoScience World, Salt A World History by Mark Kurlansky, Salted a Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral by Mark Bitterman, Food 411.com
- Salt represents an essential element of life, being one of the elements the human body cannot do without.
- Sodium is an essential nutrient, a mineral that the body cannot manufacture itself but which is required for life itself and good health
- Salt maintains the electrolyte balance inside and outside of cells.
- Sea salt is created naturally as ocean water evaporates. Sea salt contains minerals that table salt does not contain naturally, including iron, iodine, sulfur and magnesium. Sea salt also does not contain some of the unnatural ingredients that table salt contains.
To read more: Sea Salt Facts | eHow.com