Saturday, November 14, 2009

Salt, futures and health

Salt is the hidden and often times forgotten third ingredient in cheese. Salt is used to heighten the complexities of the milk. Tasting over 50 cheeses this week, I have developed a taste for the salt used.

My biggest issue with salt is with the commercial industrially produced salt that has iodine. I find that type of salt can give sometimes a metallic taste to cheeses that have high ph levels.

The end result is normally a cheese that has good flavour, but the finish is unpleasant as the mouth overwaters to dissolve some of the excess salt.

When asked the producers about their choice of salt, most if them told me that is an economic decision. They choose the cheapest salt in the market the day that they need it. That price is normally set by the demand and supply forces around cheese and the futures market may also have to do something with the fluctuations in price. In Chiapas this is particularly problematic as all the salt is brought from far away regions and the final price includes the cost of transportation to this very remote and difficult access area of Mexico.

Salt with iodine is promoted in Mexico by the health inspectors, but so far I have gotten no clear answer of the benefits of iodine in salt. I guess I should go back to Mark Kurlaski's book Salt and try to learn more about this mystery ingredient.

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