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Salt to Taste - A few facts about Marine Salt, Table Salt, Iodine Salt & Free-flowing Salt

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There are three sections in this article

  • How much salt should we add to curries?
  • What are different types of Salt?
  • Why natural Marine Sea Salt is preferred - esp for Pickles?
  • Which salt should we use?

How much salt to add to curries?

In most of the recipes we put salt. The Salt content in a recipe should be just optimum so as bring out the taste of the vegetable. Salt initiates the process of "OSMOSIS" which we read in Physics. It gets into the vegetables during the process of cooking and releases water. Thus adding salt to recipes is as old as humans cooking food. May it is even older also

If we put more salt and add matching complementary ingredients like chillis, lemon etc in large quantities, the taste of the vegetable gets buried under their load, thereafter all the recipes would taste same whether it is Bendakaya (Bhendi) or Aloo. If more salt is put in a curry, it is very difficult to amend it. 

If salt content is too low i
n a recipe, the crossing of seasoning ingredients doesn't take place due to lack of "OSMOSIS". Though we can add salt while eating to make the dish palatable, it cannot match with the taste of putting the optimum quantity of salt while cooking itself.

It is always better for the beginners to put less salt and gradually increase it as per the requirement and experience.

Therefore, I feel the art of cooking lies in the art of putting optimum salt. Probably this may be the reason as to why in Telugu Language the synonym of “SALT” is “RUCHI”. 

Youngsters have a tendency to take more salt and make the food spicy to satisfy their taste buds. As one grows older, sober foods are preferred. The range of salt consumption varies widely so do the tastes. That may be the reason for the Sanskrit saying "Loko Bhinna Ruchihi"

In my recipes I prefer viewers to decide the quantity of salt and thus recommend "SALT to TASTE" instead of mentioning the exact salt quantity. Being middle aged, I presume my salt consumption is set to average levels and probably the usage of  complementary items of chillis, lemon juice etc are also mid-ranged.

What are different types of Salt?

Now there are so many different types of Salts available in the market. Let us learn a bit more about salt 

About 30 years back in India there used to be only one salt that was available locally - be Marine sea salt or Rock salt (mined or collected from natural deposits). No big fancy names were attached to salt. Depending upon the location one used to get either of the varieties and people were happy. Then came the hype on "Thyroid Goiter" due to iodine deficiency. Salt was made the villain and it was argued that naturally occurring salts didn't contain Iodine. I still wonder why these people didn't choose SUGAR to be a villain and suggest adding Iodine to sugar? LOL:):) 

After successfully banning selling of naturally available salt citing Goiter, big industrialists qued-up in salt business. To justify their ban they started providing Iodised salt by adding Iodine (through Potassium Iodide or Sodium Iodide or Sodium Iodate). In the next stage of competition each manufacturer started claiming that their salts are refined and pure, whereby they started isolating Sodium Chloride (NaCl) from Marine Salt and marketed it. Natural Marine Salt contains traces of many other naturally occurring salt compounds. No matter from which part of the world Marine Salt is produced it contains 85.62% sodium chloride and 14.38% other trace minerals: sulphate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, bromide, borate, strontium, and fluoride (in descending order of quantity). These trace minerals are equally important for good health, which when removed under the garb of purity, are replenished back by doctors through prescribing multi-mineral tablets, which is another business exploit. 

Marine salt also contains traces of Algae, Algal products, salt-resistant bacteria and sediment particles which makes it appear grayish than white. Further marketing strategy by salt industry highlighted these Algae and Sedimentary Pollutants from air & environment through rains to convince the gullible customers that refined salt is always better to Marine Salt. In reality most of these purported dangerous Bacteria and Algae in Marine salts are either probiotic or develop probiotic substances in human intestines. Moreover the salt pans are always constructed very near to the sea-shore and during rains the breeze from the sea (devoid of environmental pollution) carries the clouds from the sea which rain on the salt pans. Thus environmental air polluted sediments is more of a myth.

In our childhood, salt was never free flowing in all seasons. If the moisture content in the air was more during some seasons, the salt used to be wet. After successfully weaning away the population from the natural Marine Salt the internal competition in the salt industry stiffened whereby the concept of free-flowing salt was invented. To make it free-flowing industry started adding anti-caking agents such Sodium Aluminosilicate, Magnesium Carbonate to make it free-flowing. It is expected that these anti-caking chemicals share shouldn't exceed 3%. But who cares to check all batches of salt production? 

Now the latest marketing trend is to claim that the Sodium in salt raises blood-pressure and increases the risk of heart-attacks. Thus manufacturers have started claims that their salt contains more Potassium, which is heart friendly and their salt is less-salty, thus nudging their consumers to enjoy more salt and remain guilt-free!!! 

Here I feel the world is round. As discussed initially "Natural Marine Salt" contains 85.62% sodium chloride and 14.38% other trace minerals including Potassium, which are all essential for our health. The present Table Salt with all additives like Iodine, Potassium, Sodium Aluminosilicate etc also has same quantity of Sodium Chloride minus the trace minerals and probiotic Algae.

Why natural Marine Sea Salt is preferred - esp for Pickles?

Earlier though I used Table Salt in Pickles (as shown in my videos) but gradually my experience suggests that using Natural Marine Salt is giving better results in terms of Pickles' shelf life. One reason may be due to the fact that Marine Sea Salt doesn't have additives like Sodium Aluminosilicate etc. Secondly it has a host of other trace minerals: sulphate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, bromide, borate, strontium, and fluoride which are also essential for humans. Thirdly I personally believe that the Algal products, Salt-resistant bacteria in Marine Sea Salt help in promoting probiotic benefits in pickles on storage.

However, I also prefer to expose Marine Sea Salt to hot open Sunlight once or twice (if available). Open Sunlight has sufficient UV radiation to remove harmful bacteria and keeps the salt dry.  

Viewers are suggested to use equal quantity of Marine Salt instead of Table Salt as shown in my videos

Which salt should we use?

As Iodine is also considered essential, I prefer to use Iodized Table Salt for day-to-day cooking. In addition it can be easily sprinkled on (dry) curries also, dissolving fast into the recipes while in the frying pan or after bringing it on to the serving plate.

In nutshell, at Gayatri Vantillu, I prefer to use Natural Marine Salt for all pickles and Commercially Iodized Table Salt for day to day cooking.

Enjoy happy cooking!!

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