Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More Herb Information coming sooon!

I am working on some new articles to post. Two that will be posted soon are on:

I. Bay: Basically, there are five different trees that are referred to as bay trees.

1. Laurus nobilis, which is what we consider to be the "true bay", is also known by the common names of bay laurel, sweet laurel, laurel, or sweet bay.

2. Umbellularia californica, also known by the common names California Bay or Oregon Myrtle, is often sold by spice companies as California bay and is a substitute for the L. nobilis.

3. Persea borbonia, also known as Red Bay, is what we see growing here on the coastal bend.

4. P. borbonia var. pubescens, is known as Swamp Bay, and it also grows here on the coastal bend.

5. Magnoliaceae virginia, also known as Sweet Bay, is in the Magnoliaceae family and produces a beautiful white flower very similar to the Southern Magnolia flower. It grows in acidic soil and is found in East Texas.


II. Luffa gourds a/k/a Loofahs with origins in Asia. They have about 8 species and belong to the Cucurbitaceae family which also includes squash, pumpkin, cucumber, and many types of melons. Be sure to check out the GOURDS PROGRAM presented by Pat Baugh for more information about lots of other gourds!

Until then, Great Gardening!

SWEET ANNIE- Under-used plant in the Artemisia family

Be sure to check out Cindy's May Newsletter about Sweet Annie!

It is a sweetly scented herb, as the name suggests. From the large Artemisia family, Sweet Annie is one of the few annuals in the group.

For the rest of the story, click on the following link:


Monday, May 23, 2011

HERBAL SALT PROGRAM May 11, 2011 presented by Linda T. Collins


Salt = sodium chloride Notes: Most recipes that call for salt are referring to table salt, which has additives like iodine (to prevent a thyroid disease), and an anti-caking agent so the salt won't get lumpy in humid weather. Salt connoisseurs, though, often prefer to use Kosher salt for cooking, and sea salt for table use. They claim that both have a softer flavor than table salt. Exotic salts include the expensive French and Hawaiian sea salts, the smoky, sulfuric Indian black salt, and the intensely salty Korean bamboo salt. Specialized salts include pickling salt, which is free of the additives that turn pickles dark and the pickling liquid cloudy, and rock salt, used primarily to de-ice driveways and make ice cream.

Halite, commonly known as rock salt, is the mineral form of sodium chloride (NaCl). Halite forms isometric crystals. The mineral is typically colorless or white, but may also be light blue, dark blue, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow or gray depending on the amount and type of impurities. It commonly occurs with other evaporite deposit minerals such as several of the sulfates, halides, and borates.

From the Greek words, halos, meaning "salt.", and lithos for "rock."

Description and Occurrence

Halite is an evaporite, which means it forms when water evaporates and leaves behind dissolved solids. It usually occurs as cube-shaped crystals, often with concave faces. The crystal habit may be massive, granular, or compact. Halite may be colorless, white, gray, yellow, red, or blue.

As table salt, halite is an important component of the human diet. In the chemical industry, it's used in the extraction or production of caustic soda, chlorine, sodium, and hydrochloric acid.

Halite forms in shallow desert lakes and can be found in dried up lakebeds and inland seas. Large concentrations of halite have been found in Germany, Poland, and various parts of the United States. In this region, halite can be found at the Salton Sea in Imperial County, and Searles Lake, a dry lake in San Bernardino County.

Field Notes: Halite is very soft, tastes salty, and dissolves easily in water. The crystals glow under fluorescent light.


Salt has influenced human existence virtually from the beginning. Neolithic settlements were at salt springs. Caravans trekked deserts trading salt ounce-for-ounce for gold.

Most cultures have folklore and art forms based on salt. And many cultures share traditions such as offering bread and salt to welcome visitors.

Salt’s economic and military significance produced trading partnership or armed combat. And economies and cultures ranging from the Sahara in West Africa to the Himalayan peaks of Nepal gives a glimpse of the salt trading culture of centuries gone by.

Religious texts and liturgy frequently employ salt metaphorically (e.g. “ye are the salt of the Earth”).

Roman soldiers were paid partly in salt, their salarium, today’s “salary.” Medieval Europe was forever changed when fishermen were able to salt the cod caught off North America’s Grand Banks, preserving them for sale in Europe.

Salt was involved in such historic events as the building of the Erie Canal, the French Revolution and the drive for India’s independence from British colonial rule.

Wars have been fought and won over salt. Mahatma Gandhi famously launched his first nonviolent protest by taking a pinch of salt from the sea, breaking the law that made it illegal to acquire salt from any source other than the British government. During the American Civil War, the Union army strategically destroyed the salt mines of the South in an effort to cripple the Confederacy. And lately, government health agencies have declared war on the salt in our nation’s beloved processed foods.

Yet at the same time, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in consumer interest in expensive gourmet salts. Even with the economic problems of the last couple of years, HimalaSalt, the leading seller of the popular pink salt from the Himalayan mountains, expects to see a 130 percent growth in sales this year. The company’s founder, Melissa Kushi, attributes this phenomenon to that “part of America that is beginning to look at food the way Europeans, Japanese and other cultures have for hundreds if not thousands of years. Where food comes from and in what season, how it’s produced, how far it traveled, who grew it or made it, and all the gorgeous ways to prepare it—the deeper the education, the higher the quality of ingredients to be found in their cupboards,” she says. “Artisan salts are a natural extension of that education—they’re flavorful, sensual and transforming to any dish.”

The upsurge in the popularity of healthy, sustainable, local and artisanal foods in recent years has resulted in a mind-boggling array of colorful, chunky salts at specialty food shops throughout the country. Keith Berner was a member of a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program in Vermont that supplemented farm-fresh produce with sea salt harvested in New England. “It tasted richer and had more depth than the other stuff, and it taught me how artisans can be involved in providing something as prosaic as salt, which I had never considered before,” Berner says.

But is the higher price tag worth it? And is there really something special about these salts of many colors?


• Adding salt to water will raise the temperature at which it boils and lower the temperature at which it freezes.
• Though we need some salt in our diet, most Americans consume much more than necessary. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure.
• Salt is a terrific flavor enhancer, helping to reduce bitterness and acidity, and bringing out other flavors in the food.
• Adding salt to bread dough controls the action of the yeast and improves the flavor. Bread made without salt will have a coarser texture and a blander flavor than bread made with salt.
• Try sprinkling salt on citrus fruit, melons, tomatoes, and even wine to enhance flavor.
• Adding a little salt balances the flavor of sweets like cakes, cookies, and candies.
• Boiling eggs in salted water makes them easier to peel.
• Adding a pinch of salt (preferably non-iodized) to cream or egg whites before they're whipped increases their volume and serves as a stabilizer.
• Salt is a mineral, so it can be stored indefinitely without going stale. It won't taste any fresher if you grind it with a salt mill.
• Salt has been used for millennia as a preservative for meats, fish, cheese, and other foods. It works by absorbing moisture from the cells of bacteria and mold through osmosis, which kills them or leaves them unable to reproduce.
• Salting slices of eggplants helps draw out the bitter juices.
• Sprinkling salt on meat before broiling or grilling it draws moisture from the center, making it browner on the outside, but less juicy on the inside.

Salt Uses & Tips: In the Kitchen

Boiling Water - Salt added to water makes the water boil at a higher temperature, thus reducing cooking time (it does not make the water boil faster).

Peeling eggs - Eggs boiled in salted water peel more easily.

Poaching eggs - Poaching eggs over salted water helps set the egg whites.

Testing egg freshness - Place the egg in a cup of water to which two teaspoonfuls of salt has been added. A fresh egg sinks; a doubter will float.

Preventing browning - Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will retain their color.

Shelling pecans - Soaking pecans in salt water for several hours before shelling will make nut meats easier to remove.

Washing spinach - If spinach is washed in salted water, repeated cleanings will not be necessary.

Preventing sugaring - A little salt added to cake icings prevents them from sugaring.

Crisping salads - Salting salads immediately before serving will keep them crisp.

Improving boiled potatoes - Boiled potatoes will be given a fine, mealy texture by sprinkling with salt after draining, then returning them to the pan and shaking them back and forth quickly to get rid of the excess moisture.

Cleaning greasy pans - The greasiest iron pan will wash easily if you use a little salt in it and wipe with paper.

Cleaning stained cups - Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains from cups.

Cleaning ovens - Salt and cinnamon take the "burned food" odor away from ovens and stove burners. Sprinkle spills while oven and burners are still hot; when dry, remove the salted spots with a stiff brush or cloth.

Cleaning refrigerators - Use salt and soda water to clean and sweeten the inside of your refrigerator. It won't scratch enamel either.

Extinguishing grease fires - Salt tossed on a grease fire on the stove or in the oven will smother flames. Never use water; it will only spatter the burning grease.

Improving coffee - A pinch of salt in coffee will enhance the flavor and remove the bitterness of over-cooked coffee.

Improving poultry - To improve the flavor of poultry, rub the fowl inside and out with salt before roasting.

Removing pinfeathers - To remove pinfeathers easily from a chicken, rub the chicken skin with salt first.

Cleaning tarnished silverware - Rub tarnish with salt before washing.

Cleaning copper pans - Remove stains on copper pans by salting area and scouring with a cloth soaked in vinegar.

Cleaning coffee pots - Remove bitterness from percolators and other coffee pots by filling with water, adding four tablespoons of salt and percolating or boiling as usual.

Removing onion odors from hands - Rub fingers with salt moistened with vinegar.

"Sweetening" containers - Salt can "sweeten" and deodorize thermos bottles and jugs, decanters and other closed containers.

Cleaning sink drains - Pour a strong salt brine down the kitchen sink drain regularly to eliminate odors and keep grease from building up.

Brightening cutting boards - After washing them with soap and water, rub cutting boards with a damp cloth dipped in salt; the boards will be lighter and brighter.

Fixing over salted soups - If soup has been over salted, cut up a raw potato or two and drop into the soup. The potato will absorb the salt.

Cleaning dried-on egg - Salt not only makes eggs taste better, but it makes "eggy" dishes clean easier. Sprinkle salt on dishes right after breakfast; it makes them a whiz to clean when you have time.

Preventing food from sticking - Rub a pancake griddle with a small bag of salt to prevent sticking and smoking. Sprinkle a little salt in the skillet before frying fish to prevent the fish from sticking. Sprinkle salt on washed skillets, waffle iron plates or griddles, heat in a warm oven, dust off salt; when they are next used, foods will not stick.

Preventing mold - To prevent mold on cheese, wrap it in a cloth dampened with saltwater before refrigerating.

Whipping cream and beating egg whites - By adding a pinch of salt, cream will whip better and egg whites will beat faster and higher.

Keeping milk fresh - Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

Setting gelatin - To set gelatin salads and desserts quickly, place over ice that has been sprinkled with salt.

Salt Uses & Tips: Cleaning

Cleaning brass - Mix equal parts of salt, flour and vinegar to make a paste, rub the paste on the brass item, leave on for an hour or so, then clean with a soft cloth or brush and buff with a dry cloth.

Cleaning wicker - To prevent yellowing, scrub wicker furniture with a stiff brush moistened with warm saltwater and allow to dry in the sun.

Cleaning grease spots on rugs - Some grease spots can be removed with a solution of one part salt and four parts alcohol and rubbing hard but carefully to avoid damage to the nap.

Extending broom life - New brooms will wear longer if soaked in hot saltwater before they are first used.

Removing wine stains - If wine is spilled on a tablecloth or rug, blot up as much as possible and immediately cover the wine with salt, which will absorb the remaining wine. Later rinse the tablecloth with cold water; scrape up the salt from the rug and then vacuum the spot.

Removing rings from tables - White rings left on tables from wet or hot dishes or glasses can be removed by rubbing a thin paste of salad oil and salt on the spot with your fingers, letting it stand an hour or two, then wiping it off.

Restoring sponges - Give sponges new life by soaking them in cold saltwater after they are washed.

Settling suds - If a washing machine bubbles over from too many suds, sprinkle salt on the suds to reduce them.

Brightening colors - Wash colored curtains or washable fiber rugs in a saltwater solution to brighten the colors. Brighten faded rugs and carpets by rubbing them briskly with a cloth that has been dipped in a strong saltwater solution and wrung out.

Removing perspiration stains - Add four tablespoons of salt to one quart of hot water and sponge the fabric with the solution until stains disappear.

Brightening yellowed cottons or linens - Boil the yellowed items for one hour in a salt and baking soda solution

Removing blood stains - Soak the stained clothing or other cloth item in cold saltwater, then launder in warm, soapy water and boil after the wash. (Use only on cotton, linen or other natural fibers that can take high heat.)

Removing mildew or rust stains - Moisten stained spots with a mixture of lemon juice and salt, then spread the item in the sun for bleaching; and finally, rinse and dry.

Color-matching nylons - Good nylons that don't have a match can be made the same color by boiling them a few minutes in a pan of lightly salted water.

Fixing sticking iron - Sprinkle a little salt on a piece of paper and run the hot iron over it to remove rough, sticky spots.

Cleaning fish tanks - Rub the inside of fish tanks with salt to remove hard water deposits, then rinse well before returning the fish to the tank. Use only plain, not iodized, salt.

Salt Uses & Tips: Health & Beauty

Gargling - Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt in an 8-ounce glass of warm water for use as a gargle for sore throats.

Cleaning teeth - Mix one part salt to two parts baking soda after pulverizing the salt in a blender or rolling it on a kitchen board with a tumbler before mixing. It whitens teeth, helps remove plaque and it is healthy for the gums.

Washing mouth - Mix equal parts of salt and baking soda as a mouth wash that sweetens the breath.

Bathing eyes - Mix 1/2 teaspoon of salt in a pint of water and use the solution to bathe tired eyes.

Reducing eye puffiness - Mix one teaspoon of salt in a pint of hot water and apply pads soaked in the solution on the puffy areas.

Relieving tired feet - Soak aching feet in warm water to which a handful of salt has been added. Rinse in cool water.

Relieving bee stings - If stung, immediately wet the spot and cover with salt to relieve the pain.

Treating mosquito and chigger bites - Soak in saltwater, then apply a mixture of lard and salt.

Treating poison ivy - Soaking the exposed part in hot saltwater helps hasten the end to poison ivy irritation.

Relieving fatigue - Soak relaxed for at least ten minutes in a tub of water into which several handfuls of salt has been placed.

Removing dry skin - After bathing and while still wet give yourself a massage with dry salt. It removes dead skin particles and aids the circulation.

Applying facial - For a stimulating facial, mix equal parts of salt and olive oil and gently massage the face and throat with long upward and inward strokes. Remove mixture after five minutes and wash face.

Removing tattoos - Called “sal abrasion”, this technique involves rubbing salt on the tattoo and requires several treatments. Healing is required between sessions, but there is virtually no scarring. CAUTION: This is a medical procedure that can be done only by a physician.

Salt Uses & Tips: Household

Extinguishing grease fires - Keep a box of salt handy at your stove and oven and if a grease fire flares up, cover the flames with salt. Do not use water on grease fires; it will splatter the burning grease. Also a handful of salt thrown on flames from meat dripping in barbecue grills will reduce the flames and deaden the smoke without cooling the coals as water does.

Drip-proofing candles - Soak new candles in a strong salt solution for a few hours, then dry them well. When burned they will not drip.

Removing soot - Occasionally throw a handful of salt on the flames in your fireplace; it will help loosen soot from the chimney and salt makes a bright yellow flame.

Invigorating goldfish - Occasionally add one teaspoon of salt to a quart of fresh water at room temperature and put your goldfish in for about 15 minutes. Then return them to their tank. The salt swim makes them healthier.

Cleaning flower vases - To remove deposits caused by flowers and water, rub with salt; if you cannot reach the deposits to rub them, put a strong salt solution in the vase and shake, then wash the vase with soap and water.

Keeping cut flowers fresh - A dash of salt added to the water in a flower vase will keep cut flowers fresh longer.

Holding artificial flowers - Artificial flowers can be held in an artistic arrangement by pouring salt into the container, adding a little cold water and then arranging the flowers. The salt will solidify as it dries and hold the flowers in place.

Keeping patios weed-free - If weeds or unwanted grass come up between patio bricks or blocks, carefully spread salt between the bricks and blocks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.

Killing poison ivy - Mix three pounds of salt with a gallon of soapy water and apply to leaves and stems with a sprayer.

Keeping windows frost-free - Rub the inside of windows with a sponge dipped in a saltwater solution and rub dry; the windows will not frost up in sub-freezing weather. Rubbing a small cloth bag containing salt that has been moistened on your car's windshield will keep snow and ice from collecting.

Deicing sidewalks and driveways - Lightly sprinkling rock salt on walks and driveways will keep snow and ice from bonding to the pavement and allow for easy removal. Don't overdo it; use the salt sensibly to avoid damage to grass and ornamentals.

Deodorizing shoes - Sprinkling a little salt in canvas shoes occasionally will take up the moisture and help remove odors.


The basic types of salt: table salt (is mined salt), mined salts, sea salts and kosher salt. All culinary salts are derived by evaporation.

Table salt is made by driving water into a salt deposit (in a mine). This process forms a brine which is then evaporated leaving dried "cube-like crystals that look like granulated sugar". The salt is then refined.

About 100 years ago, the Morton Salt Company fixed its place in our kitchens by adding an anti-caking agent to table salt, creating a perfectly pourable, uniform product, hence the slogan, “When it rains, it pours.” They also included iodine, because many people were deficient in this natural element. (Hardly anyone is anymore.) And to mask its mineral aftertaste, they added a form of processed sugar. Mark Bitterman, co-owner of The Meadow, an artisan food shop in Portland, Oregon, never uses common table salt. “The salt shaker filled with artificially refined, chemical-laden table salt is the ultimate symbol of the chemical industry’s triumph among industrialized food producers,” he says. Even if you don’t take his hard-line approach, mixing salt with sugar might not be the way to go, particularly now that there are so many tasty options.

Mined salts, also called rock salts, are extracted from the earth like other precious mined commodities, and are generally processed by being boiled in brine from which the liquid evaporates, leaving mountains of chunky salt crystals behind. Some of these crystals are actually slabs, which are large enough that you can bake or grill foods directly on them, seasoning the food with a luscious natural brine. Before it is processed, table salt is a mined salt.

Kosher salt can be mined or from the sea. Its structure—tiny, stacked pyramids —is what makes it so valuable. Its shape helps it dissolve much better than common table salt, and it’s easy to pick up by the pinch. Plus, the large surface area of the crystals imparts a lot of flavor, so you can use less. Relatively inexpensive kosher salt is the everyday cooking favorite of chefs and food lovers. It is made in a similar fashion except the brine is raked continually during the evaporation process. The resulting product has a light and flaky texture.

Sea salt is formed when salt water evaporates from pools and cliffs. The crystals are then carefully scraped off. There’s a lot of variability in the structure of salts left behind by sea water. Fleur de sel, or “the flower of salt,” is the caviar of all sea salts. Its lacy “flowers” form only on warm days when the winds are calm on the Brittany coast of France. It is evaporated sea water. All salts are nutritionally the same. Sea salt has trace amounts of minerals not found in mined salt.


Almost all Americans consume too much salt. In fact, the average American eats about seven pounds of salt each year, and that’s about double what health experts recommend. Avoiding processed foods is one way to reduce sodium intake. Salting after cooking is also an obvious sodium reducer. Relying on a bounty of herbs and spices for flavor is another fantastic way to cut down on that seven pounds. But there’s nothing quite like salt for great cooking.

Salt wears many hats:

• It elicits wonderful, flavorful compounds from every food you may want to eat.
• It preserves many of those foods as well.
• It amplifies and elevates flavors in a way that simply makes things taste more like themselves.
• It keeps colorful foods colorful.
• And it helps to combine and seal in flavors as nothing else does. Salt makes foods sing, period.

Gram for gram, fancy gourmet salts contain just as much sodium as common table salt. According to Marion Nestle, nutrition, food studies and public health professor at New York University, “Sea salts may taste better than regular salt, but they only have a health advantage if they are used in smaller amounts.” And that’s exactly why some people prefer sea salts—you really can use less and taste more. When gourmet salts are combined with flavor-boosting herbs and spices, and especially if they’re used primarily as a finishing flavor, it’s possible to reduce your sodium intake dramatically. In addition, you may benefit from the trace minerals and elements present in salts from various parts of the globe, and you won’t find any of those nutrients in regular salt.


As we browse recipes it is common to see other types of salts besides common table salt in the ingredient list. The most common variations are Kosher and Sea Salt.

Bamboo salt = parched salt = jukyom = jook yeom Notes: This is made by roasting sea salt in bamboo cylinders plugged with yellow mud. The salt absorbs minerals from the bamboo and mud, which in turn leach the salt of impurities. Look for plastic bags of it in Korean markets. Substitutes: sea salt.

Black salt = kala namak = sanchal Notes: Look for this in Indian markets, either ground or in lumps. It's more tan than black, and has a very strong, sulfuric flavor. Substitutes: table salt. Black salt named Kala Namak in India, is really a blend of minerals characterized by a strong sulfur odor. It is commonly used in snack foods in North India. Black salt = kala namak = sanchal Notes: Look for this in Indian markets, either ground or in lumps. It's more tan than black, and has a very strong, sulfuric flavor. Substitutes: table salt.

Butter salt Notes: This salt has extremely fine grains. It's used to salt butter.

Coarse salt = coarsely-ground salt = coarse-grain salt = gros sel Notes: Most recipes calling for salt intend for you to use finely ground salt, though coarse salt is better for certain things, like making beds for oysters and salt crusts on meat or fish, or for lining baking dishes or the rims of margarita glasses. Many professional chefs like to cook with it because they can measure it more easily with their fingers. Kosher salt and sea salt often come coarsely ground.

Fine salt = finely-ground salt = fine-grain salt = fin sel Notes: This is salt that's been ground into small grains. Most recipes calling for salt intend for you to use finely ground salt, though coarse salt is better for certain things, like making beds for oysters and salt crusts on meat or fish, or for lining baking dishes or the rims of margarita glasses. Table salt usually comes finely ground. Substitutes: coarse salt (Grind it using a salt mill, mortar & pestle, or rolling pin.)

Curing salt = tinted curing mixture = TCM = Prague Powder #1 Notes: This is used to cure meats and fish. It's usually dyed pink so that it won't be mistaken for ordinary salt. It consists of 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrate.

French sea salt = sel marin This expensive French salt comes from sea water that's pooled into basins and then evaporated. Unlike most American sea salts, it's unrefined, so it retains more of the minerals that naturally occur in seawater. There are several varieties. Gray salt = grey salt = sel gris gets its color from the clay lining the basins. La fleur de sel (the flower of the salt) is whiter, but has a similar flavor.

Those trendy gourmets are willing to shell out $5 for a small packet of French sea salt drives chemists crazy, since almost all of it is just plain salt, sodium chloride, NaCl. Salt aficionados counter that French sea salt has a much softer and fresher flavor than ordinary table salt, and that the difference is worth it.

These salts come either coarsely or finely ground. Since salt is an inorganic mineral, there's no point in grinding large crystals with a salt mill so they'll be "fresh." Salt, unlike pepper and spices, never goes stale. It's best to use these salts after the food is cooked, or their subtleties will be lost. Substitutes: sea salt OR kosher salt OR sea vegetables (even richer in minerals)

Fleur de Sel de Guérande is the premier quality of Grey Sea Salt from France. Before the evaporation process is complete a light film of salt forms. This is harvested and sold as Fleur de Sel. (See more about Grey salt below).

Grey salt (sometimes sold as "gray" salt) sel gris is organic sea salt from the coastal area of Guérande, Brittany, France. The salt is "moist" and unrefined. It remains a light grey, almost light purple color because of the clay from the salt flats where it is collected. The salt is not collected by machine but by hand using traditional Celtic methods. It is available in coarse or stone-ground fine grain. It is considered by many to be the best quality salt available. This salt has really gained fame in the main stream culinary world in the last few of years.

Hawaiian Black Lava and Red Alaea Sea Salt natural sea salt has a unique combination of taste, mineral content, intriguing varietals, while still being reasonably priced. The black lava salt and the red alaea clay salt have a delicious unique flavor, in addition to their dramatic presentation. Both salts are coarse in grain size.

This Hawaiian sea salt is harvested from salt farms on the tiny island of Molokai. There is a very good reason why it tastes so delicious, which is quite logical when you think about it: The Hawaiian Island archipelago is extremely isolated from other land masses. Within the Hawaiian Islands, the island of Molokai is the least developed, which means that the lifestyle is rural and slow paced, there is virtually no industry and with no industrial or sewage runoff, the delicate balance of ocean water remains unpolluted.

In addition to the starting point of harvest, the sea, the method of harvesting the salt is also of an extremely high standard. The salt is dried inside of a high-tech, custom designed solar evaporator. The food grade solar pans are hermetically sealed to allow slow evaporation, which leave the beautiful salt crystals intact. This also keeps all the valuable trace minerals and electrolytes intact. (Most salt processing destroys these or removes them.) The salt yield is about 84% sodium chloride and 16% naturally occurring minerals, which are very good for the human body.

The resurgence of salt harvesting on the island of Molokai has brought new life to the economy of the island. The black has a somewhat nutty flavor while the red presents a nice sweet finish. Both are full of flavor, sparkling in presentation and quite dramatic.

Percent Sodium: Red - 35.94%; Black - 36.08% Sodium per teaspoon

Hawaiian salt = alaea salt = Hawaiian sea salt = 'alaea sea salt Notes: This unrefined sea salt gets its pinkish-brown color from Hawaiian clay, called 'alaea, which is rich in iron oxide. The clay also imparts a subtle flavor to the salt. The salt is expensive, and hard to find on the mainland. Substitutes: French sea salt OR sea salt OR kosher salt. Hawaiian sea salt is produced from the Hawaiian waters. A natural mineral called "Alaea" (red clay from Kauai rich in iron oxide) is added to the salt to add beneficial trace elements to the product. This natural additive is what gives the salt its distinctive pink color. It is said to have a more mellow flavor than regular sea salt.

Kosher salt Notes: This salt was developed for the preparation of kosher meats, but many cooks prefer it over table salt. It has coarser grains, so it's easier to use if you, like professional chefs, toss salt into pots with your fingers, measuring by touch. Most kosher salt is also flaked, giving each grain a larger surface area. This helps the salt adhere better, so it's great for lining margarita glasses, and for making a salt crust on meats or fish. Kosher salt also is preferred over table salt for canning and pickling. Like pickling salt, kosher salt is free of iodine, which can react adversely with certain foods. Some brands of kosher salt contain yellow prussiate of soda, an anti-caking agent, but unlike the anti-caking additive in table salt, it doesn't cloud pickling liquids. The only drawback to using kosher salt for pickling or canning is that the grains are coarser and flakier, and can't be packed as tightly into a measuring cup as pickling salt. This raises the risk that the salt won't be properly measured. To get around this problem, measure by weight instead of volume. With its large grains, kosher salt isn't a good choice for baking. Look for boxes of it in the spice section of your supermarket. Substitutes: pickling salt OR Margarita salt OR table salt (smaller grains, use half as much; doesn't cling as well to food; iodized salt can cause pickles to cloud.) Kosher salt is an additive-free coarse-grained salt. It is used in the production of Kosher meats to draw blood out of the meat. (Read more about the Koshering process) The salt is also preferred by some chefs because it disperses more readily. By nature of its "flake" texture it melts easily and is lighter (less dense) than table salt.

Margarita salt Notes: This is used to salt the rims of Margarita glasses. To apply, fill a saucer with the salt, then moisten the rim of an empty glass with lime juice and dip it into the saucer. Substitutes: kosher salt OR sea salt OR table salt OR sugar (This is the preferred rim liner for fruit Margaritas.)

Pickling salt = canning salt = canning and pickling salt Notes: This is similar to table salt, but lacks the iodine and anti-caking additives that turn pickles dark and the pickling liquid cloudy. Pickles made with table salt would still be good to eat, but they wouldn't look as appetizing. Pickling salt is available in large bags or boxes in supermarkets, but it's hard to find in cities. In addition to pickling or canning with it, you can also use pickling salt just as you would ordinary table salt, though without the anti-caking agents it may get lumpy if exposed to moisture. To prevent lumps, put a few grains of rice in your salt shaker. To get rid of lumps, spread the salt on a cookie sheet and bake in an oven. Don't substitute reduced-sodium salt for pickling salt when making pickles. Substitutes: kosher salt (Since it's not as dense as pickling salt, you'll need to use more, but how much more varies by brand. 1 cup + 2 tablespoons of Morton Kosher Salt = 1 cup Morton Canning & Pickling Salt. For other brands, it's best to measure by weight rather than volume.) OR table salt (The iodine in table salt may turn your pickles dark, and the anti-caking agents may turn the pickling liquid cloudy.) Pickling Salt - Pickling salt is fine-grained salt that does not contain iodine or anti-caking preservatives which cause darkened pickles and cloudy brine.

Popcorn salt Notes: This table salt has very fine grains, which adhere better to popcorn, potato chips, and French fries. Substitutes: table salt Popcorn Salt - This is just a superfine, flakier crystal version of table salt. We can't think of any real good reason to use it.

Pretzel salt Notes: These opaque salt crystals are used to coat pretzels. Substitutes: kosher salt OR sesame seeds. Pretzel Salt - A large-grained salt that does not melt quickly. The preferred salt for pretzels, salted bread sticks.

Rock salt = ice cream salt = halite = sidewalk salt = land salt Notes: This is the cheap, non-food grade salt that we throw onto icy walkways and use to make ice cream. It doesn't actually go into the ice cream, as some have learned the hard way, but rather into the wooden ice-filled tub that surrounds the bucket of ice cream. The salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, which causes it to melt. As it melts, it absorbs heat from the ice cream, helping it to freeze more quickly. Use a ratio of one part rock salt for every five parts of ice. If you're out of rock salt, other kinds of salt will also work, though you should use less since finer grains of salt can be packed more densely into a cup than large chunks of rock salt. The biggest danger is that you'll use too much salt, which will make your ice cream freeze too fast and become crusty. When using salt other than rock salt, start with a modest amount and check the ice cream after you've churned it for ten minutes. If the ice cream is just beginning to firm up, you have the right amount of salt. If it's not yet firming up, you need to add more salt. If it's crusty along the sides of the bucket, then you've added too much salt. Substitutes: kosher salt (more expensive) OR table salt (more expensive) Rock Salt - Is a large crystal salt that is a slightly grayish color. It is less refined and still contains minerals that are removed from normal table salt. Rock salt is has a few culinary uses such as in mechanical ice cream makers and is sometimes used a bed for serving certain types of shellfish.

Salt substitute Notes: Some salt substitutes are herbal blends, which enhance the flavor of food without salt. You can buy these in the spice section of your supermarket or make your own--the Internet abounds with recipes for homemade salt substitutes. Other commercial salt substitutes, like No Salt®, Salt Substitute®, Cardia®, and Lite Salt®, replace some or all of the sodium chloride (ordinary salt) with potassium chloride, which has a slightly bitter taste. These substitutes are sometimes recommended for people on sodium-restricted diets. It's recommended that you consult a physician before using these products, especially if you have diabetes or kidney disease, or if you're taking diuretics or potassium supplements, or if you're on a potassium restricted diet. Look for them in the spice section of your supermarket, or in pharmacies. Salt substitutes, are available for people on low-salt diets. They contain little or no sodium normally made of potassium chloride. Lite salt is a mixture of salt and another substance such as potassium chloride. Read the label. Don't bother using these products unless you have a medical reason to do so.

Sea salt = bay salt This salt comes from evaporated sea water, and contains minute amounts of magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. Since the government requires that salt sold for table use in the United States contain at least 97.5% pure salt, these minerals don't amount to much, though some pricey French sea salts have higher concentrations. While tossing a teaspoon of sea salt into a half gallon of marinara sauce isn't going to have an appreciable effect on its nutritional value, some gourmets say that they can taste the difference and that sea salt has a cleaner, saltier flavor compared to table salt. Don't use sea salt for canning or pickling--the trace minerals may discolor the food. It's also not the best choice for baking--the grains are too large. Substitutes: kosher salt (cheaper) OR table salt (cheaper) Sea salt is produced by evaporating sea water. This process is more expensive than salt produced from mines. Sea salt comes in fine-grained or larger crystals. Many of these salts are refined and use some of the same additives as table salt. Read labels carefully. The crystal variety can be crushed in a mortar and pestle or a salt grinder.

Seasoned salt is regular table salt blended with other herbs such as celery, onion, and garlic.

Smoked Salt has become very popular in the culinary scene. High quality smoked salt has actually been smoked with specialty woods such as Alder Smoked Salt or Fume de Sel - Chardonnay Smoked Salt which is smoked in old wine barrels. Lower grade salts just have artificially smoked flavoring added. Smoked salt can be used on meats, fish or vegetables.

Sour salt is not salt at all but it is citric acid. It is used to add an extra tart flavor to sour dough and rye breads. It may be used in canning to prevent fruit from turning dark.

Table salt = cooking salt = granular salt Notes: Varieties include iodized salt, which contains the flavorless additive potassium iodide to prevent goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), and non-iodized salt. Some recipes call for non-iodized salt, since iodine can impart a bitter taste and adversely react with certain foods. For example, iodine darkens pickles and inhibits the bacterial fermentation needed to make sauerkraut. Table salt also contains small amounts of calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent, and dextrose, a stabilizer. The anti-caking agent in both iodized and non-iodized salt doesn't dissolve in water, so if you pickle or can with it, it will turn the liquid cloudy or else settle on the bottom of the jar. The preserved food will taste the same, mind you, but it won't look as appealing. This is more of a problem for pickles, which are immersed in lots of liquid, than for other canned goods. To prevent the cloudiness, use pickling salt, which contains no additives? Substitutes: Kosher salt (This is more flavorful, and great for cooking. Since it's less dense, grind it first or use up to twice as much.) OR sea salt (more expensive) Table salt is the most commonly used salt. It is a fine-grained and looks the same in appearance as fine grained sea salt. Iodized salt is just table salt with Iodine added.


Easy Herb Salt

Making herbal salt doesn’t take much time either! You can make your own gourmet salts easily at home. Once you’ve made some, you can experiment and try lots of different herb blends; some are great on fish, some are better for meats, or stock, or vegetables; favorite is just a simple garlic and onion blend.

You will need:
• coarse salt (sea salt, but use whatever you like)
• fresh herbs – (some good first time blends are garlic and parsley, chives and parsley, or all three herbs together!)
• a blender, OR a coffee grinder, OR a food processor…any one of these will do the job!

Here’s how:
Take a small bunch of your clean and dried herbs; they should not be wet or moist. Use only the leaves and tender parts of the herb. Toss out any tough stems. Process or chop the herbs in the blender/food processor for a few seconds. Add a big handful (or two) of the coarse salt and blend/chop again. Watch to make sure you don’t grind the salt all the way to a powder- just a few pulses, or seconds in the blender should do the trick!

Now take the salt mix and spread it out on a tray or a pan. There is moisture in the fresh herbs and this helps to dry them a bit. The salt will preserve the herbs, but we don’t want our salt absorbing too much moisture and getting hard. In humid regions, put the tray into a ‘barely warm’ (around 200 degrees) oven for 20-30 minutes to help remove any excess moisture from your blend.

Once the salt has dried and cooled, label it and store it in a jar. It will keep for months, and if you store it in the fridge it will last a year or longer.

More Herbal Salts

Herb salt from dried herbs

1 part (by weight) salt
1 part (by weight) dried herb

If you have small amounts you can pound them up with a mortar and pestle. If you have larger amounts blend them in a mixer. Pour into airtight jars, label.

Herb salt from fresh herbs

1 part (by weight) sea salt
4-5 parts (by weight) fresh herb
Chop up herb, mix with salt (use a spoon).

Drying in the oven: pour onto parchment paper (or whatever kind of paper you put under your bread when you bake), put into oven on the lowest temperature on your oven, keeping the oven door open so moisture can escape, and so your herb doesn't get burnt. Let sit in that oven for a few hours or overnight until dry.

Drying in room temperature: cover with another piece of parchment paper, let sit in a shady spot for 7-10 days.

Drying in a dehydrator: use parchment paper that's smaller than the dehydrator trays, let dry on 40 C for 1-2 days.

Drying in a microwave oven: Not recommended.

Once the blend is dry: pour into mixer, blend. Pour into airtight jars, label.
Herbs to use for herb salts

Most commercial herb salts contain celery (leaf and/or stalk). Other popular ingredients are parsley, lovage, and one or the other kind of onion.

Here's a few commercial herb salt ingredient lists:

o Labby's "Yrttisuola", the herb salt of a local biodynamic herb grower:
salt (60 %), parsley, basil, thyme, marjoram, lemon balm, dill, lovage.

o Bioforce's "Herbamare", the herb salt of a large organic Swiss herb house:
sea salt (94 %), celery, leek, cress (watercress? garden cress? another cress? no clue), onions, chives, parsley, lovage, basil, marjoram, rosemary, thyme and kelp.

o Meira's "Yrttisuola", the herb salt of a large local spice house:
salt (85 %), onion, parsley, glucose, celery leaf, marjoram, rosemary, basil, thyme.

o Knorr's "Aromat", the herb salt of a large German food house:
salt (56 %), monosodium glutamate (MSG), lactose, yeast extract, onion, hardened vegetable fat, spices (celery leaf and others), calcium silicate.

When making fresh herb salts, use anything found in abundance in your garden. Try to include at least celery leaf, parsley and lovage (however lovage does not grow in South Texas). In addition, these may or may not get included: chervil, thyme, black currant leaf (has to be Ribes nigrum - the leaf is scented, and tastes great), French tarragon (or Mexican mint marigold for us in the South), hyssop (that's Hyssopus officinalis, not an Agastache), caraway leaf, chives, dill, lemon balm, thyme, etc. or anything found in abundance in the cupboard. You can use dried parsley, lovage, and celery leaf, dried onions and garlic.


Artisanal salts come from all over the globe, and if you’re crazy for fine foods, you can find some pretty rare specimens. But the following are all yummy, and are available widely in specialty food stores.

• Type: Kosher ($)
Origin: various sources
Color: white
Best Uses: Everyday cooking; great texture is easy to pinch and dissolves well; smooth, unaggressive flavor
Herb Pairing Suggestions: complements all herbs and spices

• Type: Gray Sea Salt ($)
Origin: various coasts
Color: gray to gray-green
Best Uses: Cooking and finishing salt; unrefined; mineral content; moist, briny; sometimes harsh flavor works well with meats, veggies and seafood
Herb Pairing Suggestions: garlic, cumin, bay leaves, thyme

• Type: Himalayan ($$)
Origin: Himalayan mountains
Color: pink
Best Uses: Cooking or finishing salt; potent, rich flavor of mineral; great with poultry, fish and in brines and sauces thyme
Herb Pairing Suggestions: rosemary, oregano, basil, garlic, bay leaves,

• Type: Red Alaea ($$$)
Origin: Hawaii red
Best Uses: Great for roasting and grilling, and in rubs; trace minerals; Combined with red clay (‘Alaea’); moist; crunchy texture; color stands out when served; mineral and buttery flavors go well with seafood
Herb Pairing Suggestions: pepper, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, turmeric, saffron, garlic, bay leaves, thyme

• Type: Black Lava, or Hiwa Kai ($$$)
Origin: Hawaii
Color: black
Best Uses: Finishing salt; sulfuric aroma; combined with activated charcoal; silky texture; sharp, earthy flavor is best on sushi and grilled meats and veggies
Herb Pairing Suggestions: pepper, garlic, bay leaves, thyme

• Type: Maldon ($$)
Origin: England
Color: white
Best Uses: Finishing salt; thin, flat crystals dissolve slowly on the tongue like snowflakes; delicate flavor, light taste lemon balm
Herb Pairing Suggestions: delicate flavors such as lavender and

• Type: Sel Gris
Origin: France
Color: gray
Best Uses: Cooking and finishing salt; great mineral content; lower sodium; high moisture; bright mineral flavor
Herb Pairing Suggestions: rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, thyme

• Type: Fleur de Sel, rare byproduct of Sel Gris ($$)
Origin: France
Color: white
Best Uses: The caviar of finishing salts; unrefined, light, moist crystals; violet-like aroma
Herb Pairing Suggestions: great garnish for any herbed dish

• Type: Kala Namak, also known as ‘Indian Black’ or ‘Sanchal’ ($)
Origin: India
Color: light pink with gray tinge
Best Uses: Cooking and finishing salt; strong sulfur odor; common in vegan and Indian cooking
Herb Pairing Suggestions: turmeric, saffron, basil, coriander, cumin

• Type: Applewood Smoked ($$)
Origin: various sources of aged wood
Color: pale orange to light brown
Best Uses: Cooking and finishing salt; sweet, woody, fruity flavor; use with poultry, fish and pork, and in curing meats
Herb Pairing Suggestions: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, allspice, rosemary, basil, pepper, garlic, thyme, bay leaves

• Type: Hickory Smoked ($$)
Origin: various sources of raw wood
Color: light to dark brown
Best Uses: Cooking and finishing salt; intense smoke flavor; works with red meat and Southern cooking, especially barbecue
Herb Pairing Suggestions: pepper, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, turmeric, saffron, garlic

11. Salt Slabs

Himalayan Salt - Bricks, Plates and Salt Blocks

Searching for an artful new way to cook and serve your favorite dishes? Himalayan Pink Salt Slabs, Plates, and Bricks are nature's cook top and serving platter in one, offering many creative culinary uses while delivering the benefits of natural, pure salt with no chemicals or additives. Heat your Himalayan salt slab, plate, or brick to high temperatures and sear thinly sliced meats, fish, vegetables, seafood and other quick-cooking foods. Or, chill it for use in serving sushi, appetizers, cold meats and cheeses, fresh fruit and vegetables, and even cold desserts.

Himalayan Pink salt slabs, plates, and bricks are harvested from deep within the ancient Himalayan mountain range. There, they have remained protected from pollution and impurities for centuries, making this what many consider the purest, cleanest salt in the world. The salt is mined as large, meteor-like boulders and later sliced into, slabs, blocks, bricks and plates as well as sculpted into bowls. Because Himalayan Pink salt slabs are a natural product, the threshold for high temperatures and pressure may vary, as will the physical characteristics and inclusions which give your salt slab a one-of-a-kind appearance. You'll find that Himalayan salt slabs, plates, and bricks make for an intriguing presentation of both hot and cold foods for your home, restaurant, spa or catering facility. All of our Himalayan salt products are "Gourmet Food Grade" and the very highest quality Himalayan salt available.

Pink Himalayan salt blocks, plates, platters, and bricks can be used for sautéing, grilling, chilling, curing, baking, salting, plating, bathing, and contemplating.

A boulder of Himalayan salt emerges from darkness of a 16th century mineshaft in and explodes into light, catching and refracting the sun in hues ranging from water-clear crystal to clematis flower pink to deep meaty red. The rough salt rocks are then hand cut by local masons into a variety of shapes, providing the foundation for extraordinary new ways to prepare and serve food.

The Himalayan salt deposits, which are believed to be 500 to 600 million years old, have been mined for more than 2000 years in what is now . It is said that Alexander the Great stumbled upon the salt deposits with his army in the fourth century before the common era (B.C.E.). Having taken refuge in some foothill caves, their horses literally licked the crystalline rock in the walls of the cave.

Himalayan Salt Block Recipe & Cooking Ideas

Arrange thinly sliced Carpaccio or sashimi on a cool salt platter and serve. Watch as the food literally salt-cures while at the table, gently cooking the edges and bringing on just a smidge of mineral-rich saltiness.

Place a large square tile of Himalayan salt under the broiler. Wait 30 minutes, then remove the tile with a kitchen glove. Set on trivet at table, and sauté fish, meats, and veggies while your guests or family look on with awe, disbelief, and dawning admiration. While cooking, your food will take on a light saltiness. Note that The Meadow’s larger Himalayan salt tiles will often hold heat long enough for repeated grillings before needing to reheat, but that batches will be successively saltier.

For an out-doorsy variation on the above, place a large platter of our Himalayan salt on the backyard grill, and plank grill a fennel-and-lemon stuffed monkfish, a lime-and-ginger marinated flank steak, or a balsamic and garlic rubbed Portobello mushroom.

For a variation on the wilder side of the out-doorsy, do what our two boys clamor for day in, day out, day in, day out (be forewarned). Heat a large Himalayan salt platter on an outdoor gas grill (best) or an indoor gas stove (use extreme caution). Lightly butter the salt platter, toss on firm bananas, grill 20 seconds on each side. Turn off the grill (important), douse with grappa or bourbon, ignite with a long match, and watch the flambé! Blow out last flames and serve with scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Barely salted and seductively caramelized, the bananas spring to life against the cool silken contrast of the ice cream.

Freeze a Himalayan salt block or plate for two hours. Remove, and plate up scoops of ice cream or sorbet. More fun yet, warm lightly whipped sweet heavy cream, egg, honey, and aged bitters, and refrigerate. Remove the salt slab from freezer, pour mixture on it, slowly lufting with spatula, for a salt-tinged ice custard you will not soon forget.

Impress your Jewish grandma with Gravlax. Thaw a filet of commercially frozen (for health reasons) salmon, roll in sugar and minced dill, arrange on a Himalayan salt plate, cover with a heavy brick of Himalayan salt, wrap in paper bag and refrigerate for three days, slice, serve with crème fraîche and melba toast or just eat.

Getting back to basics, just use it as a serving platter for butter, cheeses, dried meats, or your daily does of pickled ginger and wasabi. When used as a plate for moist food such as apple slices and mozzarella, the food acquires an enhanced salt and mineral flavoring. One of ours serves as our regular butter dish.

Place our larger platters of the Himalayan salt on the rack of your oven, preheat, and then bake bread, pizza, and savory pastries.

Take a bath, breaking up an old salt plate and tossing it into the tub to serve as an excellent and therapeutic bath salt, and pumice stone.

And check out the following website for a catalog of some of the gourmet salts. Yes, they are expensive, but because you use less and don’t add them while cooking but rather to finish off you meal, and they don’t go bad and will last indefinitely, so I think that they are worth the money.

Website resources:










Sunday, May 8, 2011

Our May program will be "Herbal Salts"

Hope to see everyone at our May 11, 2011 meeting at 10:00 a.m. about "Herbal Salts" presented by  Linda T. Collins.
Location: ACISD Maintenance Department (Formerly Rockport Elementary), 619 N. Live Oak Street, Room 14, Rockport, Texas.