Preserve Food with Salt

Here’s the new shake on America’s favorite salt-preserved foods – made with the only rock we eat.


| September/October 2009


It’s tantalizing and tasty. It gives lip-smacking satisfaction. It glitters in the sunlight, but it isn’t gold. Nonetheless, until 100 years ago, salt was among the most sought-after commodities in human history, says author Mark Kurlansky in his best-seller, Salt: A World History – a truly delicious read.

Here’s the inside scoop on salt. You’ll be fascinated by the savory story of sodium chloride – the only family of rocks we eat. Plus, in your own home kitchen you can create these amazingly quick recipes for mouth-watering, salt-preserved foods. 

Are you worth your salt?

Reflect for a moment on something that most take for granted: salt. Pour some gently into your palm. You may be surprised to learn that your very life is dependent on sodium chloride, this common household staple.

The simple reason: Everyone needs salt to survive. Salt is essential in the human diet, says the Salt Institute. Our bodies can’t manufacture it, so we have to ingest salt to replace what’s lost through bodily functions. Sodium chloride makes up 0.28 percent of the human body weight. (However, too much sodium intake through a high-salt diet has been linked to serious health problems. For the general population, the USDA recommends a daily sodium consumption of less than 2,300 mg, which is about a teaspoon.) 

Salt’s scintillating saga

Salt has played an indispensable role in human history and helped civilizations to flourish, Kurlansky says, because salting is an effective, time-honored way of preserving foods, including meats, fish or vegetables.

For most of human history, salting foods was among the few means of keeping foods edible, along with drying and smoking. The implications were enormous: people could stay alive during winters, droughts or other harsh conditions, and while traveling.





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