Home' Salt : Salt Contents introduction 9
does not change---it has come to symbolise friendship, loyalty and fidelity. The
covenant between God and the ancient Hebrews was seen to be eternal, and so it
was symbolised by a substance that is eternal: salt.
Yet salt might seem to us anything but eternal. After all, if you drop it in water,
does it not simply disappear?
Yes, it does. But if you wait long enough, the salt will always return.
Dissolve a teaspoonful of fine table salt in some warm water, then pour the liquid
on to a plate or shallow bowl. Leave it in the sun. After a day small crystals will start
to form. In a few more days all of the water will be gone; in its place will be a layer
of pure, white salt.
What's more, it will seem to have multiplied---there will be at least 2 teaspoonsful
of salt to return to the container.
Of course this is only an illusion, because although the salt has doubled in volume
its weight is unchanged. The small, uniform crystals of refined table salt, formed
on an industrial scale by huge vacuum evaporators, have been replaced by the large,
irregular flakes that are the result of gradual solar evaporation.
The salt, however, remains the same.
The Mystery of Salt
Therein lies the paradox. If all salt is the same, how then can there be so many
different varieties? If salt is truly essential to life, why are we being constantly
advised to eat less of it? How much is too much?
For adults, the National Heart Foundation of Australia recommends a maximum
intake of no more than 6 grams---approximately 1½ teaspoons of refined table salt---
per day. At the same time it is acknowledged that around three quarters of the salt
we consume comes from processed food. Salt that is virtually invisible.
As home cooks, we are confronted with a dizzying array of salts; Himalayan pink
salt, Murray River salt, Indian black salt and fleur de sel are just a fraction of them.
There are smoked salts, bamboo salts, flavoured salts, pickling salt and kosher salt.
Each salt is subtly different, and each has its ideal application. To restrict ourselves
to just one would be foolish. To deprive ourselves of the magic that salt brings to
food would be something close to madness.
What we need is the right amount of the right salt for the right dish. By paying
attention to the type of salt we use, and the way in which we use it, we can create
food that simply tastes better. The fact that it will also be healthier is simply an
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