Flavour and More - The Role of Salt in Cooking
Salt has been used for cooking since time immemorial. But there is so much more to salt than just adding flavour. Here’s a comprehensive look at the various roles salt plays in the preparation of food.
Salt is arguably the most important condiment used to enhance the flavour of food. Not only does it serve to make bland food like pasta and bread palatable, but it also works to enhance the natural favours of other food items such as meat, vegetables, dairy or even fruit. In small quantities, salt intensifies the sweetness of certain foods. It is also used to counteract sour and bitter flavours. That is why it is uncommon to find a recipe that does not call for salt.
While too much sodium can be detrimental to health, our bodies require sodium to carry out various vital functions. These include the contraction and relaxation of muscles, the conduction of nerve impulses, and the maintenance of proper water and mineral balance. These days, most packaged salt is iodised to prevent iodine deficiencies.
Tata Salt Plus is fortified with both iodine and iron, to keep you healthy and strong. Iodine is an extremely important element to ensure good health. The thyroid gland uses iodine present in our food to produce thyroid hormones. It has an important role in tissue repair, metabolism, and growth and development. Lack of iodine may also adversely impact immune health. While iron deficiency can lead to anaemia.
Rock Salt is another healthy option for your cooking. Its pink crystals are sourced from the Himalayas and contain essential minerals like magnesium, potassium and calcium.
Salt helps in the formation of protein gels. When added to processed meats such as sausage, it brings about the gelatinization of certain meat proteins. This helps hold the meat together so that it maintains its integrity when cooked.
Fermentation is part of the preparatory process of foods such as bread, cheese and yogurt. Salt retards the growth of yeast, moulds and bacteria, thus preventing excess fermentation and the growth of harmful bacteria.
In bread baking, salt not only affects yeast fermentation but also influences the rate of gluten formation. Both these factors affect the bread’s final consistency and texture. Salt can be used to tenderize cured meats and give processed meats a firm texture. Large salt crystals or granules are often used in sweets like caramel candies and brownies to add a crunchy texture.
Long before we had refrigerators, we used practices like pickling and salting to preserve food and keep it safe for consumption. Bacteria require water to grow. On a cellular level, salt acts by drawing moisture out of food, thus delaying the growth of bacteria and prolonging the lifespan of perishable food items. Even today, the use of salt remains an indispensable aid to maintaining food hygiene. And due to its effectiveness, it also continues to be used widely in pickling and the preservation of various meats.
The next time you’re stocking your shelves, give Tata Salt a try. This pure salt will give your food a delightful burst of flavour. Happy cooking!
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