Salt is the catalyst of transformation in the gift of fermentation.
Salt is capable of little in and of itself.
Salt requires a team, for it is a team player.
It is the only ingredient within the world of food that can fit in and play with any food, and any preparation. No more so than the gift of fermentation.
The word “salad” comes from the ancient Roman practice of salting leaf vegetables; “salad” literally means “salted”.
Lactic Acid fermentation of fruits and vegetables is mostly carried out in a salted medium . The optimum salt concentration depends on the type of vegetable or fruit.
The main role of salt is to promote the growth of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) over spoilage bacteria and to inhibit potential pectinolytic and proteolytic enzymes that can cause vegetable softening and further putrefaction.
Also helps draw out liquid.
How much salt?
•Traditionally vegetables have been fermented with lots of salt. In addition to pulling water from the vegetables, salt hardens pectin in veggies, making them crunchier.
Since preservation has historically been one of the important motivations for fermentation, ferments have tended to be quite salty, but for health-conscious people interested primarily in flavor and nutrition, less salt can be better.
More salt will slow the fermentation process, less will speed it up.
•Ferments with less salt may be more prone to surface problems.
•Fruit, salsa, dips, and condiments tend to be more salt-sensitive, so use less salt than you normally would for whole vegetable ferments or kraut.
•Salt lightly, to taste. It is easier to add salt than to take it away, but if you over-salt, you can dilute by adding clean water, bok choy juice and or more vegetables. A pinch of salt as you go along with kraut making – will give an even salt distribution.
•As a general guideline, about three tablespoons of salt per 4.2 kilos of vegetables or approximately 2 tablespoons of fine Himalayan salt per cabbage head, or 3 tablespoons salt to each liter of water for brining, though there is no exact measurement as volume measurements are not consistent since different salts are different levels of coarseness.
•In our kitchen, we choose to use Himalayan crystal pink salt (fine). Coarse salt we use for salted citrus and black limes.
•Avoid iodized or other processed salt. And salt that is free of anti-caking agents, also can inhibit fermentation. This anti-caking agent won’t dissolve in water, so salt containing an anti-caking agent makes a poor choice for fermentation.
Salt with iodine added also makes for a poor choice for meat curing, as the iodine in large enough quantities will add a certain amount of bitterness to the food.
•Sea Salt is typically not the best choice for fermentation due to the fact that it contains trace minerals that may discolor the food. The food will likely taste more or less the same in these cases, but will look strange or disgusting (and we know about Disgust!).
•French sea salt is distinct from most other sea salts in that it is made from sea water that is evaporated out of a basin with the resulting salt not being purified in any way. So it contains many of the minerals naturally found in sea water. This tends to be sold for a very high price, even though it is mostly just plain salt and is actually cheaper to make, as it is unrefined. Interestingly, many French sea salt factories have had to shut down due to rampant water pollution.
•Korean fermenting traditionally uses cheonillyeom. Widely used for salting vegetables or fish, it also eliminates toxic elements during the salting process. Cheonillyeom was prepared in summer. This was
a natural salt made by flooding a field with seawater and then letting the water evaporate.
•Kosher salt tends to be the preferred salt for chefs. This salt was originally developed for preparing kosher meats. Cooks like it for a variety of reasons including: its coarser grains, which make it easier to handle with your fingers, the larger grains also lend to making salt crusts on meat; also free of iodine, making it good for Kosher pickles,
•Himalayan crystal salt (natural health-promoting salt) One of the purest salt available on earth and is absolutely uncontaminated with any toxins or pollutants. The Crystal Salt from Pakistan does not burden your body as other salts do. It is very difficult for the body to absorb too much crystal salt since there are powerful and effective feedback loops that regulate this process. Natural crystal salt always promotes a healthy balance and does not contribute to high blood pressure like typical table salt.
However, in the end salt is salt and Grandma made some amazing fermentables without any fancy pink salt.