Salt, the only rock we eat, is more than just a seasoning—it’s an essential flavor in our food. It can intensify aromas, balance other flavors, make food tasty and juicy, and preserve food for months or even years. Yet a heavy hand with salt can easily ruin a dish. It is essential to the health of humans and other animals, and it is one of the five basic taste sensations. It is the backbone of any savory dish.
Salt also plays an essential role in the food we eat as an essential nutrient, providing flavor and texture, and enhancing color. For these reasons, it is used in food production, which is why the sodium content of processed foods is so high. It serves several functions in food (six, to be exact)—as a preservative, to add texture, enhance flavor, as a source of nutrient, as a binder, and color enhancer.
Salt brightens the food flavors and facilitates a balance between sweetness and acidity. It takes a while to penetrate the food, pulling out its natural flavors, it needs time to do so, hence why adding salt toward the beginning of the cooking process is ideal.
Read More : Rice : A Popular Crop
Functions Of Salt
A Food Preservative
It is an important natural preservative and has been used for centuries to preserve meat, fish, dairy products, and many other foods. Long before the invention refrigerators slating, like pickling, were used to keep food safe to eat. Within foods, bacterial cells, alters osmotic pressure, and inhibits the development of bacterial growth – making it take longer for food to spoil.
A Flavor Enhancer
It acts in multiple ways to enhance the flavor of food. Not only does it create a “salty” flavor element, one of the most desired tastes by humans, but it can also affect other flavors, such as sweet and bitter. In small amounts, it will intensify sweetness, so it is sometimes sprinkled on fresh fruit or added to candies like caramel.
A Color Enhancer
The vibrant color of many processed types of meat, such as ham or hot dogs, is partially due to salt. The presence of salt helps promote and maintain color and prevents it from turning gray or muddy. Salt also increases caramelization in a bread crust, which helps it get that golden color.
It helps form protein gels, it can be used as a binding agent. When salt is added to foods such as sausage or other processed meats, it causes gelatinization of proteins which then hold the product together. It has soluble protein solutions coat finely formed globules of fat, providing a binding gel consisting of meat, fat, and moisture.
A Nutrient Source
Pure table salt is comprised of approximately 40 percent sodium and 60 percent chlorine. Sodium is needed to help relax and contract muscles, conduct nerve impulses, and sustain the proper balance of minerals and water in the body.
Types Of Salt
There are mainly two types of salt. But these are categorized in several categories of culinary salt. Here are the most common types:
It is mined from the earth by digging or by pumping water into salt deposits to dissolve the salt, and then evaporating the resulting brine in vacuum chambers to recrystallize it.
Harvested from evaporated seawater, sea salt can be either very or lightly salty tasting, depending on where it’s harvested, so make sure to taste it before using it. Sea salt also contains loads of minerals so it can have an intricate flavor. It can be used in either savory and sweet recipes.
Also known as “iodized salt,” table salt has very fine grains and contains potassium iodide and an anti-caking agent that helps prevent it from clumping. It can be used when baking, though, because these types of recipes typically only call for small quantities of salt.
Coarsely ground refined salt (sometimes including an anticlumping agent) manufactured for kosher butchering, where its large crystals draw blood and moisture from the surface of the meat. often used for cooking because it’s easy to pinch and sprinkle. curing salt refined salt containing added nitrite or nitrate; used to cure meats.
Table salt supplemented with potassium iodide or iodate to prevent iodine-deficiency conditions like mental impairment and goiter. in areas where fish and sea vegetables (primary sources of iodine) are scarce, iodized salt remains the most effective method of preventing iodine-deficiency diseases.