Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

August 22, 2008

Local Salt - The Processing

This is a post I've been meaning to get to for some time now. Do you remember earlier in the month when I talked about gathering local salt from the shoreline of the evaporation ponds of the Great Salt Lake? Well, that salt, pure as it is, is not clean enough to be used for consumption. If you look at the close-up picture of the raw salt, you will see small particulates of dirt and what not. These need to be removed, at least before I'm willing to use it! So let's talk about how I went about doing that. First off, we started with 8 oz of the raw salt crystals.

The best way I could reason to clean the salt was to first mix it into a 100% saline solution. This is done by adding salt to water until the water can hold no more dissolved salt. We added the water to the salt in a dark colored pot. (I apologize that I've lost the exact quantity of water, but I believe it was either 2 1/4 or 2 1/2 cups of warm water.) The reason I mixed it in a dark pot was so that I could easily see if their were still un-dissolved crystals at the bottom. Once I had this 100% saline solution, I lined a metal sieve with a fine cloth. For this I used some scrap textured polyester cloth similar to polo shirt material. I did this multiple times, cleaning the cloth in between, to remove the particulates and to give me a clean solution. I used polyester fabric because I didn't want it to soak up the solution that I was running through it.
After filtering the particulates out, I brought the saline solution to a rolling boil for a while. Not too scientific here, heat kills bad stuff, and evaporates water, and those things are what I wanted to do.
After the boiling solution started to form floating crystal "rafts" on top, I reduced the heat to a constant simmer and kept an eye on it. We did this in a fairly wide bottom pan so that there was a lot of surface area for evaporating from . You can see above, that the crystals had started forming a more solid brain shaped pattern. It was pretty cool to watch actually. When the salt was to this point, I was worried about burning it, or scorching the bottom of the pan so I removed it to complete drying in the air. I chopped it up quite a bit and continued stirring it while the pot cooled down. No need to waste that heat after all.
The final step was to move the salt to a foil lined tray and let it sit out in the summer heat of the kitchen for a couple of days. (I did cover it with a paper towel by the way.) A few days later, I slid the cleaned salt off of the foil and into a zip lock and into the spice cabinet.

The texture of this salt is much like that of the packaged popcorn salt, or pickling salt that you can buy. Taste? Well, honestly it tastes like... salt, but that's what it's supposed to taste like. filtered, cleaned, and processed salt. And totally local too! How many can say that huh? Since this is a zero iodine salt, it will be great for pickling so I'm going to use some of this soon to turn a bit of my homegrown cabbage into sauerkraut.

Hope you liked my experiment, I had a really good time with it!



Chicago Mike said...

Please do be a little careful P~, no iodine is not good for you. My father went on a low salt diet and was fanatical about it and didn't use iodized salt. He ended up with a goiter.

Turns out, they iodize salt for good reason!

And yes, I am totally jealous that we don't have local salt. :)

P~ said...

yeah Mike, they do, good point to point out. As I mentioned, this will be used for either pickling, preserving or the odd flavoring of pasta water and such. We do use and will continue to use iodized table salt. Thanks for looking out for me.

han_ysic said...

Hi Phelan,

The salt looks great. We don't have salt lakes locally, went to some on a road trip round Australia once, and if I ever go again, I'll be sure to bring some salt home.