Author: Site Editor Publish Time: 2023-08-25 Origin: Site
Despite strong opposition from the international community, on August 24th at 13:00 local time, Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant began discharging radioactive contaminated water into the ocean. As seawater is a crucial source of table salt, the release of nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean has garnered global attention and discussions, triggering a panic around salt consumption and leading to a 'grab the salt tide' in many regions.
In response, experts have reassured that there is no need for panic – the salt supply is sufficient! It's important to note that China, for instance, produces edible salt from various sources including sea salt, well salt, and lake salt, with their composition ratios being 22%, 61%, and 17% respectively. The domestic salt production is ample to meet demand, and strict food safety regulations are in place. Hence, consumers need not be alarmed and excessive stockpiling of salt is unnecessary.
China stands as the world's largest producer of raw salt capacity and output. With a diverse range of salt types and abundant resources, the quantities of lake and well salts are considerable, easily catering to market needs. According to data from 2022, China's raw salt capacity reached 115.85 million tons, with a production of 83.9 million tons.
Today, Niran has compiled relevant information about Chinese salt, allowing us to delve into the world of salt-related knowledge. Let's explore the origins of salt in China.
The character '盐' originally meant 'boiling brine in a vessel.' The 'Shuowen' dictionary records that naturally occurring brine is referred to as '卤,' while brine that is boiled becomes salt. Legend has it that during the time of the Yellow Emperor, a nobleman named Su Sha boiled brine from seawater, resulting in salt with various colors: blue, yellow, white, black, and purple.
The Chinese began producing salt around the time of Shen Nong and Huang Di. Salt was initially extracted from seawater. The origin of salt in China dates back to the Huangdi era, some five thousand years ago, with Su Sha being revered as the 'ancestor of salt,' credited for using fire to boil seawater and create salt.
The primary component of table salt is sodium chloride, an inorganic salt with a neutral taste. It imparts a salty and cool flavor, entering the stomach, kidneys, and large intestine meridians. It possesses functions such as clearing heat, detoxification, cooling blood, moistening dryness, nourishing the kidneys, promoting bowel movements, killing parasites, reducing inflammation, inducing vomiting, and stopping diarrhea.
From a physiological perspective, salt plays a crucial role in maintaining human health. Salt aids in digesting food by stimulating the taste buds, increasing salivary secretion, enhancing appetite, and boosting food digestion rates.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, salt serves as a remedy to nourish the heart's qi. Without salt in your food, you may find it lacks flavor. Prolonged salt deficiency not only dampens one's desire but also saps the body of energy.
Within the human body, salt plays an essential role in facilitating osmosis. After digestion, food turns into soluble substances. Salt ensures that food attains the required concentration for cellular osmosis into the bloodstream, delivering nutrients to various bodily tissues. Furthermore, salt can influence mental states, invigorating the spirit and determination.
Salt comes in various forms, primarily categorized as sea salt and land salt. Sea salt offers a refreshing taste with a touch of crisp seawater and mineral flavors. In contrast, land salt is divided into rock salt, lake salt, and well salt.
Sea salt is derived from seawater. After evaporating seawater, the remaining substance is sea salt. The creation of sea salt involves slow evaporation in open-air salt fields, where crystallization occurs on the water's surface. Delicate hollow pyramid-shaped flakes crystallize, then settle into larger coarse grains, resulting in the familiar large-grain sea salt.
Compared to refined table salt, sea salt has a gentler texture, featuring a taste infused with minerals and the freshness of seawater, along with a subtle sweetness in its aftertaste. Consequently, sea salt is typically used not directly during cooking but for marinating or seasoning foods that are thicker or more challenging to flavor. For instance, it's employed to add a layer to roasted dishes, which is then removed after cooking. Sprinkling a bit of sea salt after plating a dish can enhance the inherent aroma of the food. Similarly, when preparing seafood, a touch of sea salt can elevate the oceanic flavor of the dish.
Rock salt is extracted from underground deposits or caves, with a distinct mineral composition from sea salt. The formation of rock salt can span millions of years and, due to its subterranean origin, it boasts rich mineral content. Himalayan rock salt is a notable example, hailing from the Khewra salt mine in Pakistan. It is considered one of the purest and most natural mineral salts globally, ranging in color from pure white to pink, even deep red or black. While rock salt is less salty than sea salt, its mineral and earthy notes are more pronounced. Additionally, its ability to maintain a consistent temperature makes it suitable for uses beyond standard grinding salt – it can be sprinkled atop ice cream or used in cooking fish, meat, and vegetables.
Lake salt, one of the earliest forms of edible salt discovered by humans, refers to salt collected from salt lakes or salt brine extracted from these lakes. Generally, salt is directly extracted from salt lakes using salt harvesting machines or ships. The process involves transport, washing, dehydration, and stacking to complete production, resulting in a relatively mild level of salinity.
Well salt is produced through the process of brine extraction from underground salt mines similar to rock salt's geological settings. 'Brine' refers to water sealed underground, which is not ordinary fresh water. For instance, during ancient times, a basin was once a massive inland saltwater lake. Eventually, the climate became hotter and drier, causing the lake to shrink and recede into low-lying areas of the basin. These trapped saline waters, or 'brine,' have been preserved underground since then. Producing well salt involves drawing brine from wells using buckets, pouring the brine over salt sediment, utilizing sunlight for evaporation to increase the salt content. Subsequently, the salt-saturated brine is poured over salt sediment placed in bamboo baskets, allowing further soaking, pouring, and dripping to gather higher concentration brine. The collected brine is filled into a pot, wood is used for heating. The pot begins with high heat to bring the water to a boil, followed by low heat to gradually evaporate the water. Additional brine is added during this process, and the cycle continues. After a period, bubbles start to form in the pot, and a small amount of cornmeal is added. As the water evaporates, the mixture turns into a sandy texture, and salt begins to precipitate, resembling snow or sugar piled in the pot. The final step involves scooping the salt into coarse porcelain bowls and transferring them into storage barrels.
This leads to the question: why is salt referred to as the 'king of flavors'? Human necessity for salt stems from physiological instinct. Sodium ions are the most common cations in extracellular fluid, maintaining fluid osm