Salt with buzz

by Laurie Gorton
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With all the attention consumers now pay to ingredient lists on food packages, it’s a good marketing ploy to offer them something they understand and use at home. And when it comes to salt, the foodie buzz today is all about sea salt and kosher styles. Bakers and snack food manufacturers can take advantage of this positive attention by choosing a flaked kosher-certified sea salt.

Pacific Blue Kosher Flake sea salt from SaltWorks, Inc., Woodinville, WA, brings those marketing advantages to formulations. Consumers will recognize this version of salt because many of them buy it for their own cooking and baking needs.

“Many food processors find that advertising ‘made with sea salt’ on the front of the package is very advantageous in the current market so driven by natural and organic trends,” said Megan O’Keefe-Smith, media relations, SaltWorks. “Sea salt is a buzzword.”

The fuller flavor of sea salt is another benefit because it “sometimes makes it possible to slightly reduce the total amount needed in products,” she observed.

Such a lighter touch in formulating may help cut the overall sodium content, but it won’t achieve the 25 to 50% reduction some formulators seek. “It’s not like using a salt that’s cut with potassium, which is what typical reduced-sodium salts are,” Ms. O’Keefe-Smith explained. “This isn’t 50% sodium chloride — it’s a full sodium-chloride sea salt, but it still contains all the trace minerals and full flavor of a sea salt, so it provides the strong, clean flavor inherent in our sea salts.”

Extracted from Pacific Ocean water, it crystallizes naturally into hollow pyramids. The large surface area means that it can be used at somewhat lower rates than conventional granulated salt, which forms as cubes, without sacrificing taste. The unique shape eases blending and speeds its dissolution in doughs.

SaltWorks can customize Pacific Blue to improve its usefulness. For example, encapsulation helps it stand up to the rigors of freezing, thawing and baking. “Unless natural salts are coated, they will break down from the moisture,” she said about the way salt toppings on freezer-to-oven items like soft pretzels can melt and disappear.

Encapsulated salt also suits the needs of frozen desserts as a distinctive topping. “It will keep its texture and shape,” she observed. The flaky texture of these sea salts adds eye and taste appeal when the salt tops baked foods handled at ambient temperatures, too. They are best applied after baking. “The delicate crunch and great flavor make this sea salt perfect for everything from crackers to cookies,” Ms. O’Keefe-Smith noted.

Flake size can be customized, too. Most users find the company’s standard flake suitable for all uses, but if a finer or coarser salt is needed, SaltWorks will sift ­according to spec. Finer flakes dissolve more quickly, Ms. O’Keefe-Smith noted, while larger flakes can maximize eye appeal as topping salts. For more information, visit www.seasalt.com.
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