Traditional Radiant Portuguese sea salt is produced along the southern coast of Portugal.It receives very little rainfall during the summer harvest months. This allows for a thick layer of salt to accumulate before raking it -- and the resulting salt harvest is free of contamination from clay at the bottom of the pan.
Traditional hand harvested sea salt, is a completely natural, unprocessed product. It is produced in "salinas" (salt marshes and salt pans) using age-old methods –- methods familiar to the Romans over 2000 years ago.
The natural methods used in the crystallization of sea salt give the product a bouquet of trace elements that is lacking in industrial sea salt. Using traditional methods, almost all of the sea water minerals are retained in the product, as opposed to modern salt fields whose yield is almost 100% sodium chloride. The differences in the two can be most obviously seen in the shape of the crystals, the brilliantly white colour of traditional Portuguese sea salt and, most importantly, in the taste.
After being harvested by hand, traditional sea salt is sun-dried for a minimum of five days in order to evaporate the remaining water, maximizing the magnesium and iodine content. It is then stored and packed without any further processing.
Why should a store carry Radiant Portuguese sea salt compared to/in addition to regular sea salts?
Carrying Radiant sea salt gives retailers the opportunity to sell their customers a salt that they can trust in. The salt is produced by reliable salt harvesters and is certified as having been produced by hand, by real people, and that the single solitary purpose of the salts produced is for human consumption. The various certifications has received covers the origin of the product, as well as the production methodology; chemical and microbiological parameters are controlled, including testing for all heavy metals, 82 different pesticides, hydro carbonates and radioactivity.
The salt business worldwide is price driven. The margins in salt production are so low that industrial salt companies constantly seek out the lowest cost method of production. As salt can be washed and painted (yes, salt is painted using lime -- CaO) there is a good deal of deception behind the industrially-produced salt that is brought to market for human consumption. Consider the number of solar-evaporated salt works that harvest salt from polluted water sources.
Moreover, salt tends to be so cheap -- even hand-harvested sea salt -- and such a minimal amount is used on a regular basis that the family budget is not negatively impacted by choosing a salt that sells for 10 times the price of the lowest cost option.
So, why does food taste differently if I salt my food with reliable sea salt versus refined table salt?
Refined salt, rock salt and ordinary sea salt have a salty taste that is bitter and strong, making it difficult for our taste buds to sense all the flavours in food.
What minerals can be found in the traditional salt?
Almost all minerals present in sea water are found, in trace amounts, in traditional sea salt. One can argue that the amounts are so low as to be negligible. However, consider that it is possible to grow marine organisms, such as coral, in tap water with traditional sea salt added, yet these same organisms quickly die in a solution of tap water and regular sea salt.
From all the minerals present, the most notable is magnesium, an essential nutrient in a balanced diet. Lack of magnesium has been tied to mental disorders and depression. As there are very few magnesium sources in food, its presence in salt is important; rock salt and regular sea salt lack any magnesium content.
Is there a difference between traditional salt from Portugal and salt from France?
Besides the different countries of origin, the primary difference between Portuguese and French traditional salts is the colour (due to the clay pond and lenght of summer days). Thus a certification is necessary to substantiate any claims of origin and methodology.
And what about organic salt? And "bio" salt?
Technically speaking (i.e., according to regulatory definitions for "organic" foods), salt cannot be organic. This is due to the very nature of salt -- salt is a mineral and, therefore, an inorganic product. Likewise, salt cannot be considered "bio" because it is a mineral and is produced by physical processes (solar evaporation) and not by organisms.
There are some people in the marketplace claiming to have organic or "bio" salt. While claims can be made with regards to the natural or unprocessed nature of salts, salt cannot be considered to be organic. In any event (and moreover), such claims would have to be made together with a certification from an authorized body attesting to the validity of the claims. The certification must address such critical aspects of production as the harvesting method (i.e, hand harvested, no contact with heavy machinery), respect for the environment (e.g., wetland bird nesting area protection, landscape conservation), an absence of washing (to preserve the trace minerals), the absence of additives (anti-caking, anti-oxidants, iodine, fluoride, etc), and lastly, that a full chemical analysis has been conducted prior to any certification being granted (i.e., checked for heavy metals, pesticides, hydrocarbon, nitrates, ammonia, radioactivity, bacteria, etc.).
The current "salt fashion" of bringing to the market salt products from interesting and unique locations is bringing with it many ordinary, low-quality salts that are being sold as "special" or "organic" salts. One must take extreme care before assuming the healthful benefits of these products. As mentioned, a certification for salt quality is always necessary to validate any claims made by the producer.
Radiant wholefood takes it upon themselves to have its sea salt laboratory tested to ensure it does not have heavy metals or pesticides. Ask for the certification and lab reports.
Product of Portugal
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