An article appeared in our local bugle today that caught my eye.
The piece, written the AP’s Michele Kayal centers around Mark Bitterman’s, new book Salted which extols the glories of the natural salts of the Earth and which I just received from my darling husband for Christmas.
The reason it caught my eye is that we are salt junkies of the deepest dye. We love natural salts of every hue, buy them wherever travel, and now have quite a collection of them in our kitchen. We have Truffle Salt, of course, French Fleur de Sel and Gros Sel de Mer with herbs and pepper, pink salt from the Himalayas, and Maldon flakes from England. In the photo above, counter-clockwise from the top left are some Jurassic Salt and Black Salt we picked up at Michael Chiarello’s Napa Style store in the wine country (the pinkish ones) and the Vital Mineral Blend Celtic Sea Salt we use for everyday cooking and seasoning.
Regular table salt, the kind that comes in the round cardboard canister, is NaCl–sodium chloride–of course, and while it may or may not be iodized, lacks most all the trace minerals present in natural sea salt. Those minerals are important to good health, particularly having all the proper forms of iodine (both iodine and iodide) required for optimizing not only thyroid function but all sorts of other glandular tissues that depend on it.
An accidental bit of kitchen chemistry I experienced a while back proves the point that there’s stuff in mineral blend sea salt that isn’t in plain salt. I was blanching some chopped red cabbage, which is one of Mike’s favorites, in a large pot of water. Once at the boil, I added a tablespoon of mineral sea salt to the water, then dropped the cabbage and let it briefly boil. I’ve done this countless times with Kosher salt or table salt, but using mineral blend sea salt something strange happened. The burgundy color of the cabbage and water was transformed to a shockingly bright blue. I mean bright blue with not even the merest hint of red in it. The cabbage tasted the same as it usually did, but the color was strikingly different. Repeat the experiment yourself if you like and report back. Maybe different salts will yield different hues, who knows?
I plan to do try the technique again when I need blue food (of which there are few naturally occurring ones) for some event — say July 4th or a Superbowl party, if the Denver Broncos or Cowboys or some team I like with a vivid blue in their team color scheme ever makes it back to the big dance. Obviously not this year for the Broncs or the Boys, but maybe a red, white, and blue theme for the Pats. That’s looking more likely.