Beyond the Shaker: Tips for Using Salt
From cleaning to keeping milk fresh, salt rocks
-Courtesy of Diamond Crystal® Kosher Salt
Beyond seasoning, there are many uses for salt in the home:
1. A paste of salt and vinegar cleans tarnished brass or copper.
2. A brine poured down the kitchen sink prevents grease from collecting and eliminates odors.
3. Salt absorbs spilled wine. When wine is spilled on a tablecloth, blot up as much as possible and immediately cover the spot with salt, which will absorb the remaining wine. Rinse the tablecloth with cold water later.
4. If an egg breaks on the kitchen floor, sprinkle salt on the mess and leave it there for 20 minutes; you’ll be able to wipe it right up.
5. Apples, pears and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water as they are peeled will prevent browning and help retain their color.
6. Add a pinch of salt to milk to keep it fresh longer.
7. A dash of salt in laundry starch keeps the iron from sticking and gives linen and fine cottons a glossy, like-new finish.
8. Salt helps take the drip out of candles – just soak for a few hours in a strong salt solution and dry.
9. Salt helps destroy moths and drives away ants.
Alton Brown’s Unbeatable Tips for
1. Salt is a great heat conductor, so why not cook in it? Heat a pan of kosher salt in the oven, bury shrimp in it and bake them until done. It works with beef cutlets too.
2. Keep kosher salt in a “salt cellar” by the cook top so that you can easily pinch what you need when you need it.
3. Scrub dirty cast-iron cookware with a little cooking oil, a tablespoon or two of kosher salt and a paper towel.
4. The next time you brew coffee, sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt across the top of the grounds to reduce bitterness.
5. Add a pinch of kosher salt to chocolate recipes to heighten the chocolate flavor.
6. If you prefer fine salt on French fries or popcorn, just take a few tablespoons of kosher salt for a spin in your food processor. You can even add other flavors such as lime zest and nori, or spices like smoked paprika.
7. Adding salt to cooking grains helps to prevent the absorption of too much water – thus keeping the grains distinct.
And here are a couple of great recipes using salt …
Salted Pretzel Sticks
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
1 3/4 cups warm (110-115 degrees) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
1 large whole egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Vegetable oil for pan
Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50-55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.
Place enough water into a roasting pan to come 1/3 of the way up the sides of the pan and bring to a boil over high heat.
In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 1-ounce portions, approximately 36 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 14-15 inch long stick and place on the sheet pans, 1/4 inch apart. Cover the dough not being used with a slightly damp towel to help prevent drying out.
Gently place 6-8 pretzels at a time into the water for 30 seconds. Remove the pretzels back to the sheet pan, brush with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle to taste with kosher salt. Bake until golden brown in color and hard, approximately 55-60 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Yield: 36 pretzel sticks
Preparation Time: Approximately 1 hour
Inactive Time: Approximately 1 hour
Cooking Time: Approximately 55-60 minutes
Striped Bass in Salt Dome
Recipe Courtesy Alton Brown, 2008
1 striped bass, 5-to-6 pounds, gills removed, fins trimmed
1 handful parsley
1 fennel bulb, (with stem) quartered
Several sprigs thyme
1 lemon, sliced thin
1/2 orange, sliced thin
2 (3-pound) boxes of kosher salt
4 egg whites
1/2 cup water
Extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the half-sheet pan with parchment paper.
Rinse the fish inside and out with cold water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Stuff the body cavity with the parsley, fennel, thyme and citrus slices, saving a few lemon slices for garnish. Set aside.
In the large mixing bowl, combine the salt, egg whites and water. Use your hands to work the mixture to a mortar-like consistency.
Lay down a ½-inch-thick bed of the salt for the fish, leaving a 1-inch clearance for the fish on all sides. Lay the fish on this bed and pile the remainder of the salt mortar on top. Work into a ½-inch-thick, smooth dome completely encasing the fish. Depending on the size of your fish, you may not use all of the salt mixture; don’t worry if the head or tail pokes out a little.
Cook approximately 35 minutes. Check for doneness by pushing the probe of an instant-read thermometer through the salt into the fish. When temperature reaches 130 degrees F, remove from the oven, and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes. Open the fish at the table by hitting the dome several times with a small hammer and lifting off the slabs of salt. Brush away any stray salt. Gently pull out the dorsal (back) fin. Using a fish knife or serrated pie server, make a single incision all the way down the back of the fish and around the gill plate. Then lift the skin off working from the head to the tail. Remove meat from the top side of the fish, going down one side of the spine then the other. Grasp the tail and remove the skeleton, (it should come up intact). The meat revealed below will slide right off the skin.
Sprinkle the fish with a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Serve immediately.
Yield: 8 servings
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Inactive Time: 10 minutes