Today I am going to try to help dispel some myths and hopefully fears when it comes to salt. The guidelines for salt consumption are always changing and it has been left up to each individual person to decide what to believe. Salt is important both to our bodies and to food itself. So let’s start swimming through the rubbish (put on your hazardous materials suit!)
Why is salt important to my health?
We all know that too much salt is bad for you. But, salt does serve a purpose inside our bodies and it is important for good health. Allow me to point just a few reasons why you should excercise moderation (not elimination) of salt.
- Salt helps your body keep water and electrolytes where they are needed. It makes you thirsty because it is one of the chemicals that tells your brain “hey we need more water to run properly!”
- Salt helps prevent muscle cramps. It stimulates muscle contractions and keeps calcium in the blood stream. (it even gives you a boost of adrenaline)
- Salt can actually help prevent sunstroke by slowing the loss of hydration in the heat.
- Salt even helps you taste and digest food better! It makes your body produce an enzyme in the tongue that increases your sense of taste. It also produces an important stomach acid to help maintain your digestion.
Why is salt important to cooking/baking?
Have you ever had food that was cooked well but, had no seasoning? The first thing people reach for are the salt and pepper shaker (or here in america, the ketchup). We instinctively know that food needs to have something added instead of just assuming it is supposed to be flavorless. But is it really that important?
- Salt slows down all the chemical reactions that are happening in dough, including calming fermentation activity to a steadier level.
- Salt also makes baked goods tighter and stronger.
- Salt helps hold water in bread longer, inhibiting drying out, and thus extending the bread’s shelf life.
- Salt, as mentioned before, causes a release of enzymes that enhances the taste of everything.
- Salt makes sweet things have flavor instead of pure sugar. (check your favorite dessert ingredients)
If you aren’t convinced about enhancing the flavor, Make a fish fillet with no seasoning and another with just salt and pepper and taste the difference. Or order unsalted fries the next time you go through a drive-thru (just be prepared to be disappointed.)
Which salt should I use?
Below is how most people view salt. (although some people believe all salt is evil no matter what)
There are several different types of salts but they can be grouped into the above groups based on how they are made. Let’s sort through these different salts.
|Bigger crystals or thin flakes good inside and on top of both savory and sweet dishes||Bigger crystals for savory cooking||Fine Granuals perfect for baking|
|harvested from evaporated seawater||Retrieved from either seawater or underground||Mined underground|
|Can have flavors added to it that will dissapear in cooking but add to a dish when sprinkled on top||Has no preservatives or extra chemicals||Contains at least one anti-caking agent|
|Has the least sodium per tablespoon||Has less sodium per tablespoon||Has the most sodium per tablespoon (cuz its smaller)|
|Good for preserving but imparts little flavor in preservation process||Best at preserving food items as it draws out the most moisture||not very good at preserving items.|
|Use in moderation||Use in moderation||Use in moderation|
As long as you have table salt for baking and either a kosher salt or a sea salt; you have the salt you need to make any recipe one step (or more) better! So have your salt and eat it too! Just don’t be a piggy with it 😀