I was recently reading about salt and discovered how the phrase “worth your salt” came about and what the etymology of the word salary is. Throughout history, salt has been a very valuable mineral with a myriad uses and today, salt is used in more than 14,000 ways – some of which we do not realize, and most of them not in the kitchen.
The use of salt is know to have been used by the ancient Egyptians where they evaporated seawater to harvest salt which they used to preserve their meat, fish… and mummies! The early major trade routes mostly developed around the trade of salt.
The word salary comes from the Latin word for a soldier’s pay salarium, which in turn came from the word sal, the word for salt, because a large ration of salt made up part of the soldiers’ salary in ancient Rome. And that’s how we came by the phrase worth your salt…
So what about the different kinds of salt? Here are some of the main types:
Unrefined: It’s in its natural state with all trace minerals. It is only washed and strained.
Refined: It is purified and stripped of any trace minerals. It also changes it’s chemical structure from large granules to smaller crystals.
Table: It’s refined salt, but to avoid lumping in humid environments, it has anti-caking agents added, and fortified with iodine to prevent thyroid disease.
Kosher: It is refined salt but without anti-caking agents, and usually has coarser grains. It dissolves more easily, has a smoother flavor, and is considered saltier than regular salt.
Sea: It is the result of evaporating seawater. Because it retains its trace minerals, it is considered healthier.
Here are some interesting and useful uses of salt:
You know when you need a bottle of chilled wine really quickly and you don’t have one in the fridge? A little salt will do the trick. What happens is that the salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, so the water becomes even colder, thereby chilling the water. Here’s what you need:
- ½ cup of salt
- 1 bucket of ice
- Enough cold water to cover the ice
Place a bottle of wine in an ice bucket and fill it with ice and add the water and salt and your wine should be perfectly chilled in 10 minutes!
So your kitchen sink is draining slowly and you want it move more quickly. It’s probably a buildup of sludge over time, but don’t stress it because Drain Jane should take care of it. Here’s what you need:
- 1 gallon boiling water
- 1 cup baking soda
- ½ cup salt
Pour the salt down the drain and pour in the baking soda after that. Leave it overnight, or at least for several hours. Chase it with the boiling water and watch it gurgle and with pleasure and run off!
Fresh or Foul?
How do you know if an egg is fresh or past its prime? Once again, salt can help. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cups water
Stir in the salt and water and put an egg into the liquid. If it sinks, it’s fresh, if it floats, it’s not. Really simple.
Other quick tips:
What other interesting things can salt do?
- Surprisingly, it can sweeten fresh fruits. Just sprinkle a pinch of salt to elevate their sweetness quotient!
- Dishwasher not getting lipstick stains off your glassware? Rub the stains gently with some salt before you put them in the dishwasher.
- Loosen dandruff flakes in your hair before you shampoo for a cleaner wash. The salt might also help you reduce the amount of shampoo you use since it will help create more lather.
So that is it for this for today’s lesson!
If you have any questions or any suggestions for the uses of salt, I’d love to hear them.