Friday, May 6, 2011

Salt


Salt is such an interesting mineral. It is essential for human life yet can be harmful in excess. Its composition is mainly Chloride and Sodium, and it is involved in regulating the water content in the body. It is one of the oldest, most ubiquitous food seasonings and has been also used to preserve food. Salt was an essential commodity in the early days. Most of the ancient civilizations used salt as a form of trade. For wine, wood, glass, dye and other luxuries. 
The word salary comes from salt (Salarium) It referred to the money paid to Roman soldiers for the puchase of salt.
The harvest of salt from the surface of Xiechi Lake in China dates back to at least 6000 BC, making it one of the oldest verifiable saltworks.
Since cooking and stones are my favorite things. salt has a special place in my heart. I think it really enhances the flavors of food and who knew, it can also be beautiful and a collector's item!!
Culinary salts generally come either from the oceans or from solid underground deposits of ancient seas.
Sensory scientists have found that beyond supplying its own taste, salt in small amounts enhances our perception of sweetness and sourness while suppressing bitterness, a talent that helps balance the flavor of everything from brussels sprouts and grapefruit to caramel and chocolate and coffee. It brings out the flavor of food by helping expel its volatile molecules, so there’s more aroma to fill our noses.
There was a big boom in salt sales and production recently. You can find so many varieties of salt in the gourmet section of every supermarket. Black or red, from Hawaii, pink from Himalaya or Bolivia, all the delicate salt crystals from many regions in France, coarse salt from Portugal and Brazil, and wonderful salts from England, Australia, Bali, Pakistan, Spain amongst others. Not to mention the flavored salts, mixed with herbs and spices.
How about collecting salt?? 
Halite is natural salt. There are beautiful specimens to be found all over the world. My favorite locations are New Mexico, Searles Lake, in California,  France and Germany. There are some nice ones from Italy too.
Here is a sample of how beautiful salt can be:
A purple faceted Halite and a transparent piece of rough. Both from New Mexico. Carlsbad Potash District produces the most colorful pieces. And they are salty too! or you think I wouldn't lick a little piece?



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