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How to Select and Cook with Salt

The food flavor enhancer and much more.


Salt is a wonderful mineral, as it enhances the flavors in food, acts as a preservative, and helps to regulate normal body functions. There are several types of salt and uses explained in further detail within this article.

Hint #1: You can always add salt, but you can’t take it away. In other words, don’t over salt your food.

Salt (for human consumption) can be unrefined (such as sea salt), refined (table salt) and iodized salt. It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light grey, grey in color, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. Edible rock salts are slightly grayish in color due to this mineral content.

TYPES OF SALT

Unrefined salt
(Sea salt, Halite, and Fleur de sel)
Different natural salts have different mineralities, giving each one a unique flavor. Fleur de sel, natural sea salt harvested by hand, has distinct flavors, varying from region to region.

Some advocates for sea salt say that unrefined sea salt is healthier than refined salts. However, sea salt is bitter due to magnesium and calcium compounds and not really eaten.

Table salt
Is refined salt, 99% sodium chloride. It usually contains substances that make it free flowing (anticaking agents) such as sodium silicoaluminate or magnesium carbonate. It is common practice to put a few grains of uncooked rice or half a dry cracker (such as a saltine) in salt shakers to absorb extra moisture when anticaking agents are not enough.

Kosher Salt

Many cooks and chefs (including myself) often prefer kosher salt because its texture allows us to pinch a larger amount of salt and evenly sprinkle the flakes on food. Also, because of the absence of iodine, kosher salt tends to make flavors cleaner than iodized salt, which has a slightly metallic flavor. STAY AWAY FROM TABLE SALT!

"Exotic sea salts like Hawaiian red salt and Indian black salt contain clay, which gives them their unique color and flavor.

Gourmet mined salt is rock salt that is crushed, screened, and packaged. It is not refined and contains many trace minerals that give it a pinkish color and unique flavor.

Popcorn salt is super-fine salt that sticks well to popcorn, french fries, or other snacks. It is usually not iodized and contains an anti-caking agent.

Pretzel salt is a large-grained mined salt. It has the unique characteristic of breaking into flat, rectangular-shaped grains when crushed.

Flavored salt is table salt combined with one or more seasonings. Garlic salt is generally 3 parts table salt to 1 part granulated garlic. Other examples include onion salt, celery salt, smoked salt, and hot salt (salt with red peppers and chipotle peppers).

Seasoned salt is an example of a complex flavored salt.

Lite salt is a 50/50 blend of table salt and potassium chloride. It usually contains potassium iodide and an anti-caking agent. Lite salt is used by people who wish to reduce their sodium intake for health reasons.

Salt substitutes are 100% potassium chloride. They contain no sodium chloride. Salt substitutes are used by people on low-salt diets.

USES FOR SALT

Boiling Water - Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time. (It does not make the water boil faster.)

Peeling eggs - Boiling eggs in salted water will make eggs peel easily.

Poaching eggs - Poaching eggs over salted water helps set the egg whites.

Testing egg freshness - Place the egg in a cup of water to which two teaspoonfuls of salt has been added. A fresh egg sinks; a doubter will float.

Preventing browning - Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.

Shelling pecans - Soaking pecans in salt water for several hours before shelling will make nut meats easier to remove.

Preventing sugaring - A little salt added to cake icings prevents them from sugaring.

Crisping salads - Salting salads immediately before serving will keep them crisp.

Improving boiled potatoes - Boiled potatoes will be given a fine, mealy texture by sprinkling with salt after draining, then returning them to the pan and shaking them back and forth quickly to get rid of the excess moisture.

Cleaning greasy pans - The greasiest iron pan will wash easily if you put a little salt in it and wipe with paper.

Cleaning stained cups - Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains from cups.

Cleaning ovens - Salt and cinnamon take the "burned food" odor away from ovens and stove burners. Sprinkle spills while oven and burners are still hot; when dry, remove the salted spots with a stiff brush or cloth.

Cleaning refrigerators - Salt and soda water will clean and sweeten the inside of your refrigerator. It won't scratch enamel either.

Extinguishing grease fires - Salt tossed on a grease fire on the stove or in the oven will smother flames. Never use water; it will only spatter the burning grease.

Improving poultry - To improve the flavor of poultry, rub the fowl inside and out with salt before roasting..

Cleaning coffee pots - Remove bitterness from percolators and other coffee pots by filling with water, adding four tablespoons of salt and percolating or boiling as usual.

Removing onion odors from hands - Rub fingers with salt moistened with vinegar.

"Sweetening" containers - Salt can "sweeten" and deodorize thermos bottles and jugs, decanters and other closed containers.

Brightening cutting boards - After washing them with soap and water, rub bread and cutting boards with a damp cloth dipped in salt; the boards will be lighter and brighter. There are antiseptic reasons to use salt as well.

Fixing over salted soups - If soup has been over salted, cut up a raw potato or two and drop into the soup. The potato will absorb the salt.

Cleaning dried-on egg - Salt not only makes eggs taste better, but it makes "eggy" dishes clean easier. Sprinkle salt on dishes right after breakfast; it makes them a whiz to clean when you have time.

Preventing food from sticking - Rub a pancake griddle with a small bag of salt to prevent sticking and smoking. Sprinkle a little salt in the skillet before frying fish to prevent the fish from sticking. Sprinkle salt on washed skillets, waffle iron plates or griddles, heat in a warm oven, dust off salt; when they are next used, foods will not stick.

Preventing mold - To prevent mold on cheese, wrap it in a cloth dampened with saltwater before refrigerating.

Whipping cream and beating egg whites - By adding a pinch of salt, cream will whip better and egg whites will beat faster and higher.

Keeping milk fresh - Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

Setting gelatin - To set gelatin salads and desserts quickly, place over ice that has been sprinkled with salt."

Sources
http://www.saltinstitute.org/4.html
Wikipedia




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