FEAST FOR FREEDOM
Living and Thriving Gluten Free

Healthy & Gluten Free

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Categories: Finding Quality Ingredients    

Salt has been a part of cooking and food preparation for millennia.

Today we'll share some basic info for those who are interested in a bit about our modern salt, and some less processed options that you can choose from.

Crystal salt in a bamboo bowl
Image by: Awesomecontent

Only in the last hundred years or so has it been given a bad rap. Some of that can come down to the processing that goes into our modern table salt. Another reason is that those who eat a lot of processed food in excess are getting a lot of salt, and a lot of the residual ingredients that goes into processing it.

Salt is a mineral that is most commonly obtained from dissolving sea water, or from mining from the earth.

Refined Salt:

Refined salt is made with the use of a number of different chemicals, mostly as anticaking agents, including sodium aluminosilicate, magnesium carbonate, sodium ferrocyanide (yellow prussiate of soda), tricalcium phosphate, calcium carbonates, fatty acid salts (acid salts), magnesium oxide, silicon dioxide, calcium silicate, and calcium aluminosilicate.

These chemicals are detrimental at varying levels. Since they aren't added to make the food more nutritious, refined salt is not considered a whole food.

This is the type of salt used in virtually all packaged food. If it's unrefined, it will actually say so on the label.

Various forms of iodine are added to US and Canadian salt. This is actually not a harmful additive, in general. It prevents goiter, which historically has been a health issue in some countries. If you need to avoid iodine, then choose salt with no added iodine, or even no iodine at all, if necessary (you'll need to investigate further to determine this).

Refined salt is generally the only type with added iodine in it, but be sure to read the label.

Natural Unrefined Salt:

Various types of gourmet salt in little piles
Image by: Larry Hoffman
When looking at using real salt, look for unrefined. There are a number of different gourmet salts that are hand crafted via evaporation that are nice quality. With some investigating, you can find very clean, uncontaminated sources.

There is also Himalayan salt that many consider a healthy source of salt. It's generally unrefined. There is some debate as to the quality, and the exact makeup of the other minerals found in it. If you find a source of it you like, then go ahead and use it. It's largest benefit is that it does not have added chemicals, and has a wide range of other minerals. If you want the other minerals, then this is a good option.

There's also a number of other places throughout the world that have clean sources of pink salt, such as Sal Rosada (pink salt) found throughout South America.

Trying New Types of Salt:

Pink Himalayan salt in a scoop
Image by: Anna Sulencka
Since salt is used in such small quantities in the home, it's not overly expensive to try out some other gourmet salts.

As always, read the label. You don't want any added ingredients (except iodine). If it's refined, it doesn't need to list the chemicals used in the refining process, but the word "refined" will tell you that something was used.

Unrefined salt, that doesn't have anticaking agents added, will absorb moisture from the environment, and will clump up. This is not bad, it's just not quite as pretty. You can use a salt grinder to counter some of this. Also, you can put much less of it in your salt shaker / grinder for daily use. Then you can periodically wash the shaker / grinder and put fresh salt in it. Store the excess salt in an air tight container. If it clumps up and becomes moist to the touch (or even leaks in humid climates), you can lay it on a cookie sheet in the oven to dry it out.

Salt Makers and Added Info:

Below are some interesting articles and videos on salt, and how it's made, as well as some interesting websites with varying types of info.

Note that these are NOT afilliate links. They're simply interesting sites I ran across.

  • Can a low-salt diet actually be BAD for you?
    This article goes into some of the science of why salt may be good for you, and it's written in a way that's readable and not too technical. Since salt is part of everyone's diet, it's worth learning a little bit more, so you are more informed.
  • The Meadow - Salt 101
    This article gives some great details on a variety of gourmet salts that are popular with cooking enthusiasts.
  • Bitterman Salt Co. - Himalayan Salt Blocks
    This is a supplier of salt blocks, that can be used for cooking, curing, chilling, grilling, warming, serving and even drinking. I would LOVE to try this some day - this is really taking gourmet to the next level!

Enjoy whatever you decide to make with some wonderful natural salts. If you want to be inspired, check out our Recipes section.

Eat and enjoy!

Thora Toft

Citations - References - Resources
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