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American, Flavor Profile, Food, Special Issue

The Flavor Profile: Salt

“Dawg, stop being salty just because that honey is looking at me.”

Salt Showcase L-R (Celtic Sea Salt (Fleur De Sel, Lawry's Garlic Salt, Cole & Johnson Stock Salt and Morton's Ionized Salt)

Salt Showcase L-R (Celtic Sea Salt (Fleur De Sel, Lawry’s Garlic Salt, Cole & Johnson Stock Salt and Morton’s Ionized Salt)

Well, if inappropriate slang wasn’t necessary to lead into this week’s Flavor Profile topic. No, I am not attempting to coerce you to read it in Franklin’s voice. However I do want to point what a commodity salt has become over the years. It’s only right to give you a brief historical background on the ingredient before we get into the modern view of this common table condiment.

After realizing how much info there is on salt, I’ll give you a long list of bullet points to get the jest of Salt’s long-term highlighted history:

  • Salt pre-dates many civilizations by the records of the Egyptians first using it for Mummification rituals at around 6050 B.C.
  • China apparently (skewed from multiple sources) roughly comes into the chronological time frame of 6050-4700 B.C. as use for Pharmaceutical purposes recanting its discovery of over 40 different types of salt in the world. (When in actuality there are 10 distinguished types of salt listed here)
  • Many people disputed the idea of salarium (in Roman language creates a defining relationship between Salary, Soldier and in some cases salt)
  • This trilateral convoluted relationship became clear after a historian known as ‘Pliny The Elder‘ observed, “A roman soldier paid in salarium argentum, is given all in a day’s work.”
  • You can also attribute from a linguistic background, the idea of salt having multiple idioms and terms interchangeable between Roman and Latin languages.
  • For instance in Latin the term Salis defined as “Salt” and “Wit.” The Latin phrase Cum grano salis’ is also known as the popular cliché’ ‘taken with a grain of salt’ can also be looked at as ‘taken with a grain of wit.”
  • Phoenicians were a semitic people who resided along the coastlines of Lebanon, founded a remote area called Sa Caleta (west of Ibiza, Spain). The marshes were rich in salt deposits and they used the commodity to the fullest to find a flourishing harbor to sustain the natural economy through its course
  • What people know as the Silk Road, France also had a popular road, conveniently entitled the ‘Salt Road’ providing roads to transport the commodity along the Mediterranean coastline (similar to the Phoenicians)
  • While Lübeck remained between Salt Road and the old Salt Coastline routes, Halle’s significance lie in the heart of West Germany as an area which harvested plenty of salt since 2400 B.C. (about the time many Celtic tribes began its production)
  • The French and British were the only two countries that developed a Salt Tax for two different political purposes
  • The U.S. had its fair share of history with Salt, with British Loyalists in the colonies, intercepting Salt supplies to disrupt the preservation of food for the Revolutionaries
  • During the war of 1812, the newly established government of the united colonies were dirt poor. So they had to use salt brine to pay the soldiers who fought against the Brits.
  • Only 200 hundred years earlier, did Salt Production finally began within the U.S.
  • There are three methods of acquiring salt: Deep Shaft Mining, Solution Mining and Solar Evaporation
  • The oldest method used is Solar Evaporation whereas the most dramatic is of course Salt Mining
  • You can also thank Gatorade by using Electrolytes (utilizing the effect of adding salt into water creating a dissociation reaction via ionizing) to ‘quench your thirst.

As you can see from the 16 reasons highlighted, there were a lot of things happening in history all because of salt. To dig deeper we will now simplify and distinguish between the 10 types of salt:

  • Table Salt: Think of the salt within the salt shaker
  • Coarse Salt: Think the Pretzel’s you eat at the baseball game
  • Iodized Salt: Think of the popular brand Morton’s Salt
  • Kosher Salt: Think of the popular brand Diamond Crystal, slightly larger in grain and blessed with the Rabbi’s approval
  • Celtic Salt: Think of a higher grade salt than the gourmet favorite Fleur Del Sel, considered rare to Salt connoisseurs across the world.
  • Dairy Salt:  Finally graded pure salt and necessary component in creating butter or margarine
  • Rock Salt: Chunky like appearance used for creation in Ice Cream, some varieties used to make crusted savory dishes or served as a substitute bed for oysters
  • Sea Salt: The commonly known for having added nutritional value compared to other salts, more affordable than Celtic salt and of a greyish color scheme.
  • *(Sour Salt, although a distinguished salt for some, isn’t considered a genuine variety of salts given its true form is citric acid)*
  • Seasoned Salt: Do you recall things like Mrs. Dash, your favorite Garlic Salt from your favorite Steak Purveyor (Fleming’s being one of them) and producing their own variety of seasoned salts. Then look no further.
  • Popcorn Salt: Think of confectionaries’ sugar in terms of consistency, super fine and generally used for coloring and flavoring on popcorn
  • *Colored Salt: Supposed to serve as an indicator to the amount of salt you add to whatever it is your consuming thanks to the food coloring. Think popcorn salt, but greater in size and less in portion*

****The highlighted ones noted do not count, ergo making it 10 different types****

Now you’re probably wondering to yourself, what is the purpose to learn about all this history and variety of salts, you may ask? Gives you a rough idea of how much salt we consume on a regular basis (especially as a U.S. Citizen). Nearly everything we consume has salt in one form or another. There’s no escaping the ridiculous amount of salt we’re exposed to. I’m even beginning to regret my recent infatuation with fried rice and variations of desserts with the phrase (Caramel Sea Salt _________).

According to the CDC, we only need 500 milligrams (mgs) to maintain an average diet. However the average american, consumes at least 3500 mgs starting from the age of 2. The United States population is around 317,000,000. Multiply that by the average amount of consumption and you would get 158,500,000,000 mgs (one-hundred fifty-eight billion, five hundred million). Multiply that by the additional 3500 mgs and you would get approximately. 4.715 +e14 (roughly estimates to five quadrillion) mgs consumed by the U.S. citizens alone. Enough salt to cover the entire planet a million fold and become the next moon.

So for the health conscious, what are the alternatives with salt? There are several products out in the market like Mrs. Dash, McCormick’s Salt-Free 17 and even Cavendar’s Greek Seasoning. Many of which offer a host of flavor combinations without feeling the need to go cold turkey on utilizing salt in the future. Does this mean you need to become a strict vegetarian or vegan for the rest of your life? Of course not, however for the sake of keeping my audience informed in making positive dietary decisions I’ll contribute whatever info I have.

Maybe this article will give you an idea of how much we take in (or for granted) when it comes to a necessary condiment like salt. Perhaps one day we’ll develop an acceptable salt substitute, that would taste just as good as the original stuff without sacrificing the quality. Unless of course that substitute follows suit with Splenda, which is an entirely different topic in general.

Author’s References
“Where does salt come from?” (http://www.maldonsalt.co.uk/About-Salt-Where-does-Salt-come-from.html), last viewed 1 October 2013, last updated Circa 2012, unknown
“Salt 101” (http://www.saltinstitute.org/salt-101/), last viewed 1 October 2013, last updated Circa 2013, unknown
“History of Salt” (http://www.saltworks.us/salt_info/si_HistoryOfSalt.asp#historyUS), last viewed 1 October 2013, last updated unknown
“Salt Varieties and Types” (http://homecooking.about.com/od/spices/a/saltvarieties.htm), last viewed 1 October 2013, last updated 2013
“Americans Consume Too Much Sodium” (http://www.cdc.gov/features/dssodium/), last viewed 1 October 2013, last updated 24 February 2011
“Last of Salt Production by Countries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_salt_production), last viewed 1 October 2013, last updated unknown
“Splenda May Not Be So Splendid After All.”
(http://news.yahoo.com/splenda-may-not-splendid-194239789.html), last viewed 4 October 2013, last updated 13 June 2013

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About Foodoofus

I am a Writer and Food & Beverage Insider/Editor in Chief located within the SF Bay Area. Subscribe to us here on Wordpress (and other social media outlets) for all the latest food and beverage news and trends. Thanks for all of your support.

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