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Also Known as
Namak, Mithu, Table salt

Common salt, found on almost every table, is nothing but sodium chloride (NaCl). It occurs naturally in many parts of the world as the mineral halite and as mixed evaporites in salt lakes. Seawater has lots of salt too. Generally, salt is made by drying up salt water in shallow pools, and then cleaning the crystals obtained after the water evaporates.

Sodium chloride crystals are cubic in form. The size of the crystal varies as also the colour. The colour varies depending on the purity, from colourless when pure, to white, gray or brownish, typical of rock salt (halite).

Salt is a prerequisite for life; a key constituent of the human body. It is not possible to exist without salt, yet too much of it can be harmful too!

Epsom salt
Epsom salts are made up of a naturally occurring mineral that is found in water. More properly known as magnesium sulfate, Epsom salts derives its popular name from the town of Epsom, England, where the compound was first distilled from water.

Epsom salts are easily obtained at any drug store or supermarket. Inexpensive and versatile, the salts can be used for a number of different applications around the home. Many of the applications have to do with expediting healing, as well as improving the quality of the skin and helping with basic grooming.

Perhaps the most popular application is the Epsom salts bath. As an ideal means of relieving stress at the end of a hard day, two cups of Epsom salts in a tub of hot water can help to soothe jangled nerves and restore a sense of well being. This one application makes Epsom salts a staple in many bathrooms around the world.
Cleansing is also a common use for Epsom salts. Many people make use of Epsom salt compounds to exfoliate skin, applying a paste of Epsom salts with a little water to the skin, then rinsing with clean warm water. Homemade skin masks that help with oily skin can be created, using the salts as the base ingredient. Along with the Epsom salts, the mask requires a small amount of lemon juice, an egg, and a small amount of nonfat dry milk. In situations where there is not time to wash hair, Epsom salts can be used to partially clean the follicles, making it easier to comb and set the hairdo.
Treating minor sprains and bruises with Epsom salts is also thought to be very effective. A simple Epsom salt bath applied to the area of the sprain or the bruise will provide relief to the impacted area, helping to reduce swelling and minimize the soreness. Immersing the area in warm water and Epsom salts for 20 to 30 minutes not only provides physical relief from the ailment, but also can be refreshing for the mind as well.
Fruit salt
Eno can be used for baking. It causes the flours to rise and can be handy in preparing lots of dishes. For all that fluffiness and softness, Eno is used in varied food preparations like pancakes, rice flour tortillas, wheat flour tortillas, naans, dhoklas, khaman, rice puffs, iddli, dosa etc.

Eno fruit salt is available in grocery stores. It basic purpose is to get relief from acidity. It is kind of a home made soda. Just add half a tablespoon to a glass full of water and let it bubble a bit, drink it immediately and pretty soon we get relief from acidity. It is very handy after those spicy dinners after which you feel the need to calm your stomach acids. It reduces the stomach bloating and the burning sensation in the esophagus. Eno is a fruit salt to helps ease digestion. Eno is a mixture of soda bi carb and citric acid in required proportions. When it gets mixed with water the bubbles of co2 gets produced which relieves gases. The soda neutralizes the acids in the stomach. It is safe to drink. It is like any antacid tablet. But, this is fresh as you can prepare it whenever you need. It can replace the bottle of soda which goes well with hard drinks.
Kosher salt
Kosher salt is made by compacting granular salt, producing large, irregularly shaped flakes. Kosher salt is a coarse-grained salt that chefs like because it's easier to handle than ordinary table salt, and it adheres to food products better, too. Unlike common table salt, kosher salt does not contain iodine, which lends a bitter, metallic flavour to salty dishes. Kosher salt is also typically free of other additives, such as anti-caking or anti-lumping agents, making it a purer source of sodium. The coarse grain of this salt is ideally suited to the koshering process (applying salt to butchered meat to drain off the blood) because it covers a large surface area without being fully absorbed into the meat.

The texture and shape of kosher salt is lighter and more delicate than a typical fine grain salt. The texture is enjoyed by many people for both the subtlety of flavour, and also its slight crunch when sprinkled over dishes. Kosher salt also dissolves quickly and evenly into foods during cooking, and melds wonderfully with other flavours. It is a great salt to use in spice blends, as its light texture mixes well with other ingredients. Though this salt cannot be used for baking purpose as the granular structure of the salt makes it unpalatable in bakery products.
Sea salt
This is a coarser grind of salt with large, irregular crystals. It contains no additives. This coarse grind performs the job admirably. It is a favorite with not only Jewish cooks, but also professional and gourmet cooks who prefer its texture and brighter flavor. When substituting for table salt, you may need more to taste since it seems less salty. The size and shape of the crystals cannot permeate the food as easily as fine grades.

Many proponents of sea salt believe it to be much more flavorful than standard table salt. Chefs primarily use sea salt or kosher salt as a crust for baked potatoes or in French and Thai-inspired cuisine. Sea salt is actually not quite as 'salty' as table salt, so recipes may have been adjusted for taste. Sea salt is generally more expensive than other seasonings.

Less refined and grayish in color, this is the chunky crystal salt used in ice cream machines. When using sea salt for cooking, be sure it is food-grade. Some sea salt sold for ice cream machines is not suitable for cooking.

How to Select
• Salt is available as crystal salt, table salt, coloured and flavoured varieties. Choose the appropriate one as desired.
• Choose an appropriate pack size.
• Check the quality, freshness, dryness and neatness of the salt. Avoid salt with clumps or impurities. Free flow movement is the best sign of quality and freshness.
• Fortified salts are also available, so read the labels before buying.

Culinary Uses
• Salt is the world's oldest known food additive. People use many types of sodium chloride in food processing, cooking, and at the table – at home and in restaurants.
• Besides contributing its own basic "salty" taste, salt brings out natural flavours and makes foods more palatable.
• It also protects food by retarding the growth of bacteria and certain undesirable microorganisms.
• It gives a proper texture to processed foods, serves as a control agent to regulate the rate of fermentation in food processing, and provides the colour, aroma and appearance consumers expect.
• In baked products, salt controls fermentation by retarding and controlling the rate of fermentation, important in making a uniform product.
• Salt also enhances the golden colour of bread crust by reducing sugar destruction in the dough and increasing caramelization.
• Salt strengthens gluten in bread dough, providing a uniform grain, texture and dough strength. With salt present, gluten holds more water and carbon dioxide, allowing the dough to expand without tearing.
• Salt develops the characteristic rind hardness in cheese and helps produce the desirable, even consistency in cheese and other foods such as sauerkraut.
• In pickle making, salt brine is gradually increased in concentration, reducing the fermentation rate as the process proceeds to completion.
• Salt pulls juices out of vegetables. This is a good thing for some watery vegetables like cucumbers and eggplant in some dishes, but if you want mushrooms to remain plump, adds the salt at the end of cooking.
• The addition of salt to vegetables and pasta results in a firmer texture.
• Although salt does appear to be a flavour enhancer, too much of it can ruin the food and your health. So, use only the right amount cautiously. For soups and sauces that have a long simmering time, go easy on the salt in the beginning, keeping in mind that the liquid will reduce and intensify the salt flavour. Even when adding salt to breads and desserts, use just a pinch or as little as required.
• Do not add salt before whipping egg whites. The salt pulls out the moisture which will not only increase whipping time, but decrease volume, texture, and stability.
• If you plan on adding salt to boiling water for pasta or vegetables, wait until the water boils before adding it. Salted water takes longer to boil.
• Vegetables naturally high in sodium include beets, kale, chard, celery, spinach, dandelion greens, carrots, endive, corn, and artichokes. Take care when adding salt to these.

How to Store
• Salt should be kept in tightly closed containers and preferable used within a year, although salt is technically said to have an infinite shelf life.
• Humidity and moisture will cause salt to clump and stick together. So, add about ten grains of raw rice to the salt shaker to absorb the moisture and keep the salt flowing freely.
• Do not store salt in silver containers. The chlorine in the salt reacts negatively with the silver, causing a green discoloration. As far as possible, use wooden spoons in your salt jar for much the same reason.

Health Benefits
• Use salt in moderation, as too much of it can cause hypertension.
• Salt stabilises irregular heartbeats and generates hydroelectric energy in your body's cells.
• It clears mucous plugs and sticky phlegm in the lungs, particularly in asthma and cystic fibrosis, and clears up congestion of the sinuses.
• When you put a dash of salt on your tongue, it could help control persistent dry cough.
• It provides your body with a strong natural antihistamine, which acts against allergies, and also helps regulate sleep.
• Salt enables the kidney to pass on excess acidity into the urine.
• It also controls excess production of saliva.
• Salt can also help when you have a toothache. Take some salt in a glass with warm water and then gargle. It can help keep the decayed tooth clean until you get to a dentist.

Related Links

Rock salt
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