Salt isn’t what it used to be. I suppose that most things aren’t. That said, it is unbelievable the transformations something as simple as salt can go through. Hundreds of years ago people used salt to keep bacteria from spoiling their food instead of refrigeration. Salt used to make the world go ‘round, for many cultures at least.
The word salary is connected to salt because people were paid in rations of salt which made up their salary. Now people joke about every house having a jar of iodized salt in the cupboard that never runs out. Be honest, you haven’t replaced that jar any time in recent memory…
Most people in the U.S. are used to sodium chloride (NaCl), commonly known as table salt. Salt plays a role as a flavor enhancer among other functions, but like many other foods, it’s best in moderation. Having too little sodium can lead to health issues that feel like dizziness or dehydration and having too much sodium can be harmful to individuals with heart disease.
Many people are actually on low sodium diets. However, for those of us unconcerned with sodium intake, there are a plethora of salt varieties suited for nearly any occasion and application!
There is a salt particularly well suited to recent cooking and snacking trends. It’s called dendritic salt, also known as star flake salt. This salt has a different crystalline structure than regular table salt. Dendritic is more porous and holds on to oils better.
What does a porous salt have to do with recent trends?
Herb infused salt. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Herb infused salts popularity is on the rise and it’s a trend that will likely be around for a long while. Infused salts aren’t like other spice blends. They carry the perception of being clean and luxurious. Herb infused salt has the same kind of appeal as the resurgence of midcentury modern design; lots of people think it just feels right. There is a fresh familiarity to such a simple yet elegant product.
And to think… if a food scientist hadn’t figured out how to reprocess salt into dendritic salt, then we would never have the joy of rosemary salt on almost everything cooked on the internet.
Since salt is more commonly used as a flavor enhancer, naturally people on low sodium diets want another way to amp up flavor.
Potassium chloride fulfills the same flavor enhancing functions as table salt but without that pesky sodium. It also acts as a stabilizer (just like salt). In fact, potassium chloride is so similar to table salt that the FDA recently approved the name Potassium Salt for use on packaging and marketing materials.
There have been many additions to salt, or salt similar products that have emerged in the consumer space to add minerals that commonly get left behind. Iodized salt was created because many people weren’t consuming enough iodide, iron salts are also showing up on the marketplace for markets that don’t consume enough iron.
Salt isn’t what it used to be.
These days salt is both a commodity and a luxury. The world has come a long way from the days when a salary was paid in salt. Now the phrase “worth your salt” is just a saying, separated from its original literal meaning. We even modify salt to be sodium free and add iodide and iron to fortify public health. Salt is still harvested from the sea and dug up from the earth as it has always been. Even still, some of that salt is reprocessed into innovative crystalline structures that blend better, capture more flavor from infusions, and dissolve into your final product with ease! Part of the human condition resists change but the relatively recent innovations made with salt are good for everyone.