Friday, February 18, 2011

When pink salt is not pink salt

A couple we know loves salt.  They love salt so much that they would get salt licks if it were possible.  They collect different salts: smoked salt, truffle salt, flavored salt, etc.  They even bought a block of Himalayan pink salt a while back.

It kinda looks like this:

You serve food on it.  Supposedly you can cook on it but it causes the slab to degrade faster.  They served sliced fresh mozzarella on it, a tasty treat indeed!

Last summer when I decided that I was ready to test making up a batch o' bacon I looked up recipes online and found that many of them called for "pink salt".  That stuff is what came to mind.  A short trip to a local store and I'd procured a bottle of Himilayan Pink Salt. 

Himilayan pink salt is mined and gets its color from the minerals it contains naturally.  The color varies from a pale rose to nearly coral.  In ground or flaked form it's used just like any other type of table salt.  If you buy a slab of it you can serve food on it, as our friends do, or even cook on it.

For some reason I never used it and opted for regular salt, instead.  As it turns out, I'd gotten the wrong kind of pink salt. 

"Pink salt" (sometimes called Prague Powder #1) is a whole other thing.  It's used for curing meats and is a mixture of 93.75% sodium and 6.25% sodium nitrate.  It's dyed bright pink so that you don't mistake it for regular salt and accidently poison yourself.  Oops!

Pink (curing) salt is more difficult to find, which is why my February Charcutepalooza post is behind schedule.  You can find pink salt online but I'm cheap and didn't want to pay $8 to ship a $5 item.  I called a local butcher and asked for pink salt.  They didn't have it but referred me to a butcher in a nearby town.  After choking when they heard how much I wanted - "Is a pound OK?" - they agreed to sell it to me for $5.  I guess a pound is kinda a lot but Charcutepalooza does go all year long.

This stuff is screaming, cotton candy p-i-n-k.  Here's a side-by-side.

Tomorrow we make pancetta, bacon, and salt pork.  It's not as much work as it sounds.

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