Salt, a natural mineral called
sodium chloride, is taken from underground deposits. Salt mines are generally no longer
used to recover this mineral for food use. Although salt used to melt snow and
ice may continue to be dug from the ground, such salt contains too many
impurities for general use.
The salt we eat is called evaporative salt. It is removed from the ground
by pumping water into an underground salt deposit, and collecting the liquid
brine that is formed as the salt is dissolved into the water. This brine is then
heated and concentrated, evaporating the water and allowing the salt to
crystallize. These crystals can be grown to many different sizes. For example,
the term "corned" beef comes from the use of oversized corn-like salt
crystals that are used to coat and preserve the meat. The size of the crystal is
determined by the manner in which it is allowed to crystallize.
"Kosher" salt is merely salt that is crystallized into larger
particles. Some culinary experts prefer to use "kosher" salt because
it generally contains no additives (see below). Chemically, however,
"kosher" salt is identical to all other pure forms of
Sea salt is generally produced by solar evaporation.
It contains numerous trace minerals found in seawater, and tends to impart a
slightly different flavor due to these elements.
Salt, however, may not be entirely pure. For example, it may be used as a means
of delivering a necessary, but unrelated, nutrient. Goiter, a disease of the
thyroid gland, results from a deficiency of iodine in the diet. Fifty years ago,
nutrition experts developed iodized salt. Today most common table salts
(i.e., Morton Salt) contains
this nutrient in the form of potassium iodide. Potassium iodide, however, tends
to degrade in the presence of moisture; in order to protect the iodine, a small
amount of dextrose often is added to the salt to prevent oxidation. Dextrose is derived from corn (and
wheat) starch, and therefore poses an issue for Passover use.
Other ingredients, such as calcium silicate or yellow prussate of soda, are
added to table salt to ensure that it pours even in humid conditions.
These items and poses
Certain salts used in industrial applications, such
as glycerated salts contain glycerin - which is a concern, as most
glycerins are tame’ (see glycerin). Other large crystal salts may
contain polysorbates; and, again, these items present issues as polysorbates are
Classic peppers are the fruit of the vine piper nigrum L, which grow in
long pods of small berries called peppercorns. The term pepper, though, refers to a number of
unrelated items. When the immature fruit from the black pepper vine is
harvested and dried in the sun, it turns black. When
the fruit is allowed to mature on the vine and then dried, it remains white.
Green peppercorns are prepared from unripe berries that are preserved in brine.
On the other hand, cayenne pepper (also known as red pepper) is actually
a variety of chile noted for its pungent taste. Similarly, paprika is a
variety of chile adopted by the Hungarians.
Pure pepper, no matter what type,
does not pose any concerns.