Monday, 28 May 2007


Salt. NaCl (well, mainly).

Salt is so cruicial to our well being. Both for the chemical processes it facilitates in our bodies, but also for what it does for food, making it taste good. A little salt can bring out subtle flavour nuances that might otherwise be lost. Too much salt can render a dish unpalatable and too much salt as a regular part of our diet can be downright dangerous.

Salt is mainly composed of Sodium Chloride, with sodium being one of the three primary electrolytes, along with potassium, and calcium, required in the body for normal function. I say mainly because there are countless other compounds present in the product we call salt and sprinkle on our food, as a matter of habit, to create a flavour we desire, and need.

Salt is one of the basic tastes we can detect on the tongue. Each of these, salt, sweet, bitter, sour and umami, seem to have a evolutionary reason for detection by humans. We need salt, so we need to be able to detect salt in food to provide the electrolytes we biologically crave.

For the cook, there are many ways to add salt to food, and as we highlight salt this week on Nihowera we will explore some of the options.

No comments: