Health food enthusiasts know that generic table salt isn’t the best food choice. Sea salt, Himalayan salt, and others grace their tables. But what is the best salt for fermenting vegetables? In this post, we’ll take a look at the different kinds of salts and the pros and cons for each one.
When it comes to fermenting vegetables, some recipes eschew the use of salt and call for seaweed or certain herbs. Most likely, they turn out a mushy product. Others may call for whey. But since whey is a dairy product, it may not work for some folks. Historically, home economists used salt for a reason. It worked. Now, which salt to use is the question.
The Roles Salt Plays in Fermenting
There are several reasons why salt is preferable over other things when it comes to fermenting foods. Here are a few roles that salt plays in the process:
Preservation—Salt inhibits the growth of undesirable bacteria and molds while allowing the growth of Lactobacilli.
Dehydration—Salt pulls the moisture from the food product that bacteria require for growth.
Promote texture—Salt hardens the pectin in vegetables which results in a crunchy, more flavorful product.
What Is the Best Salt for Fermenting Vegetables?
Regular table salt is the most widely used salt. It is a refined salt that has had trace minerals removed, leaving a product that is at least 97% sodium chloride. Because table salt is ground so fine, anti-caking agents are added to prevent clumping.
Another additive frequently found in table salt is iodine. Adding iodine to table salt began in the United States in 1924 as an effort to eliminate thyroid problems like the goiter.
When considering table salt for fermenting foods, you need to consider these additives. Just like in canning, the additives in table salt will cloud your liquid and give your finished product an unattractive appearance. Table salt also lacks the minerals necessary to create a probiotic-rich food.
Sea Salt comes from evaporating sea water. Like table salt, it is mostly sodium chloride. Depending on the sea from which it was taken, and how it was processed, sea salt likely contains some trace minerals, as well.
Darker sea salts will contain a higher concentration of minerals. But if the salt is harvested from polluted waters, it will also contain trace amounts of heavy metals like arsenic and lead.
To be safe, if you choose to use sea salt, verify its origin. It does work well for fermenting foods. However, since it is coarser than other salts, you may have trouble getting it to dissolve readily in water.
Himalayan Pink Salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It is a slight pink color from the presence of iron oxide in it. Himalayan salt has a slightly lower amount of sodium than table salt or sea salt but works just as well for fermenting foods.
The ancient Himalayan salt that Fermentools sells has over 80 trace minerals. It is ground to a fine powder that makes it easier to dissolve in cold water. This cuts down on the prep time needed when fermenting your vegetables.
The bottom line when choosing your salt—look for additives, know the origin of your salt, and choose a fine enough grind that it dissolves readily in cool water.
What type of salt have you been using in your fermented food recipes? Please share with us in the comments.
If you need salt for your ferments, you have come to the right place. Fermentools sells Himalayan sea salt that is powdered. The consistency is perfect for dissolving rapidly in cool water. Also, our bags have a handy conversion chart for you to use when figuring the proper brine strength for your ferments.
Fermentools does not support the adding of whey to ferments. While some folks like to do it to promote different strains of bacteria, or to give their ferment a boost, it is not necessary and often ends in a slimy texture.