Thursday, May 11, 2006

Salt Day!!

Today I used Fleur de Sel de Marin County for the first time on some food.
A tomato.
Yeah, a hothouse tomato, and it was a bit watery and faint of flavor.
The interesting discovery, though, was that the salt was a bit watery. Flavor was just fine, though: Sodium Chloride.
Apparently when I boiled down the sea water, stopping just short of absolute dehydration (everybody likes a slightly moist salt, right?), I left in enough moisture that the salt sort of sludged into a paste over time. The first day it was flaky and beautiful; now, after several weeks in a tightly capped jar, it's wet.
I'm not sure how to restore it to a sprinkleable state. I've left the open jar out on the counter, hoping some of the wetness will evaporate, but I'm a little afraid I'm going to end up with a solid salt lick. I'm still learning.
As for today's meal, I simply ended up spreading the salt on the tomato halves with a knife. Lightly, at first. Then I realized I really liked what I was eating, so I spread a little more on. (I'm guessing I used 1/8 teaspoon total, maybe a touch more.)
About five minutes after I ate the tomato I thought I detected some chemical flavors in my mouth. Could the sea water off the shore of Marin County have been so contaminated that I was tasting boiled-down esters and enols and ethanes and batteries and tires?
But I'm your diligent reporter. I took another taste of the salt, straight from the jar, just to find out.
Ow. It was really sharp, salty, you might even say acrid. For all of about a millisecond. (And I daresay that if you put a dab of any salt right on your tongue, you'd experience the same thing.)
Then, immediately, my mouth felt fresh! Clean. Salty, yeah, but not scary.
I'm sitting here writing, and it's been about ten minutes since I tasted the salt straight from the jar. Verdict: Clean.
So, I'm going to call this a success.
Until I find I have to go chisel salt chunks out of a jar tomorrow.


Jennifer Maiser said...

let us know how you feel tomorrow, would you? :-)

Dagny said...

You are a brave soul.

kudzu said...

I'm wondering whether that salt needs to be really sealed (as in vacuum) to keep it from turning misty-moisty. I did some sugar with rose geranium leaves in regular type jam jars and the sugar was a tad damp.

Glad you and Cranky are doing the self tests and can report to the rest of us.

I cannot wait for a riiiiiiiiiipe
tomato. I have fantasies of the smell, the feel, the taste. And it seems we shall have to endure a much longer appearance this year. Arggh.

kudzu said...

PS Of course I meant "much later". Mu deprivation is beginning to wear on me.

KathyF said...

Have you ever noticed how much a raw tomato looks like a heart?

lucette said...

Didn't they used to say that drinking sea water made you mad? As in the movie Lifeboat,where someone drinks off the side of the boat and then drowns himself? or is that just a myth?

lolagrinnin said...

Could you try the diner trick of a few grains of rice in the salt to absorb some of the moisture? I've seen a saltine cracker in the salt at the local greasy spoon, too, but that might contaminate your homemade in other ways.

Kevin said...


I read this: "About five minutes after I ate the tomato I thought I detected some chemical flavors in my mouth." and immediately thought, "Crumby hot house tomatoes."

cookiecrumb said...

OK, it's the next day and I'm still here! No death by sea salt, apparently. (But you see, Lucette, I am already Mad.)
I think a little moisture evaporated off overnight, but I might try reheating it (and then, I will use that old diner trick of rice grains; thanks for reminding me, Lolagrinnin).
Kevin: My thoughts exactly. I suspect the chemical taste came from the tomato!
Kudzu: I broke down and planted one measly tomato plant in a pot. It's lookin' good.
KathyF: Yeah, especially if you notch out the stem... all those atria and chambers and valves and stuff.

drbiggles said...

Esters and enols and ethanes, oh my!

I think I'd dump the salt out on cookie tray and leave it out for a few days. Or if you have one of those dehydrator rigs, like the one I just bought. Or toss it since you've completed your goal and don't feel that your kidnies and liver need anything else to deal with at the moment.

I ate local today. Visited Albany for lunch, it's only a few miles away. I had a hot link sammich and chili cheese fries from Jody's.


drbiggles said...

Er, kidneys. Sorry about that.

I don't usually have to spell the plural since I only have one myself.


Monkey Gland said...

They serve a wet salt with the roast marrow bone at St.Johns. It's very good.

cookiecrumb said...

Biggles wins. Toss it out. I've proved my point.
Uh, but wait! Monkey Gland says I'm on the cutting edge of nose to tail cooking and eating! Wet salt! A new trend.
Yep. I'm keeping the stuff.
(Biggles: Dehydrator? I want one.)

Derrick said...

Another potential strategy: The French Laundry cookbook has a basic set of instructions for "dusts." Basically get your ingredient chopped up fine, and then microwave at 10% power until dried out (often in the neighborhood of 40 minutes). It might work for your salt as well.

cookiecrumb said...

Oh, Derrick, thank you for reminding me of dusts. (And I must get into John Ash's dried fruits/vegs too.)
However! Yay. The leave-the-lid-off strategy has been working for the past two days. It has resulted in a much dryer "sludge" that is still granular. I think I'll be able to recap the jar tomorrow.
(I'd go into business with this cool Sel de Marin, but I don't want to go to jail for 1: taking water from state beaches, and 2: killing my customers.)
Wait! Is Karl Rove indicted?