Why You Need a Salt Cellar or Salt Pig
Posted by Anita MacKenzie on 2023 Apr 27th
When it comes to kitchen tools and accessories, most people tend to focus on cookware and knives. We agree those are certainly important and useful items when it comes to your kitchen tools arsenal, but what about how you store and use the most used ingredient in the kitchen?
What is that most used ingredient you may ask? Salt. Hands down, it’s the most important seasoning in the kitchen, used on all foods, from sweet to savory.
Now you may be saying that’s what salt shakers are for and they certainly do have a place in the kitchen. But, when you are cooking and want to add salt to a meal, it can be hard to tell how much salt that salt grinder is releasing. Using your fingers to grab a pinch of salt from a salt pig or salt cellar puts you more in control. It can mean the difference between a bland or well-seasoned dish.
A brief history of salt cellars
The Romans had a “salinum”, which was usually a silver receptacle passed around to disperse salt to diners.
By the Middle Ages, salt cellars were very elaborate. A sign of status and wealth, these vessels were large and referred to as the “master salt”. Simple salt vessels were distributed for diners, some as simple as a slice of stale bread. You could tell the status of a guest by those who sat closest to the master salt container.
By 1588, in England, the master salt was called a “standing salt” because it wasn’t passed to guests but remained in place. Eventually, smaller containers containing salt placed near plates (or trenchers) replaced the large master salt.
Why do they call them salt pigs?
This funny name for a salt cellar originates from Scotland. In Middle Ages, a certain type of earthenware pot was a "pygg". As it turns out, a salt pig is just a fun name for a salt pot.
These handy kitchen tools come in all shapes and sizes. Some of them have a hood that protects the salt, with a wide opening or snout that is big enough to put your hand in to grab a pinch or two of salt.
Our Salero marble salt cellar has a lid, perfect for use in the kitchen for grabbing a pinch of seasoning when cooking or on the dining table, filled with finishing salt for family and guests.
Salt is more than a seasoning
Salt has always been an important commodity. We harvest it from the sea and mine it from thousands of feet below the Earth's crust. In Ancient Rome, Roman soldiers received part of their wages in salt. If a soldier didn't meet up to standards, they cut him from duty because "he wasn't worth his salt".
What's more, salt is more than a seasoning. It is also an essential nutrient needed throughout the body for various biological functions.
Different types of salt
Here is a list of the six most common salts:
- Table salt. Finely textured, table salt dissolves quickly. Purified and stripped of trace minerals, it has a sharp flavor.
- Kosher salt. Also known as rock salt, this salt has a mild flavor and dissolves quickly, ideal for seasoning when cooking. Because it is coarse and varies in granule size, it’s a great idea to keep kosher salt in a salt cellar next to the stove or kitchen prep station.
- Pickling salt. Used for canning and preserving, this finely textured form of salt has no additives.
- Himalayan pink salt. This pink salt gets its distinct coloring from the minerals it contains.
- Black salt or (Kala namak). Indian spices and herbs heated into it at extremely high temperatures give this salt a strong Sulphur odor. As it cooks, the odor dissipates after cooking and leaves dishes with an “eggy” flavor.
- Sea salt. Prized for its clean, fresh flavor, sea salt is the ultimate finishing salt. Finishing salt is for seasoning food at the end of cooking.
Photo by Anastasia Zhenina on Unsplash
Reasons you need a salt cellar in your kitchen
- Aside from improving the taste of your food, what are the reasons to add a salt cellar to your kitchen tools and accessories?
- Keeps your salt fresh. The salt in your salt pig stays fresh and dry, so it is usable until it’s empty. Note: There is no shame in using a small spoon to measure exact amounts when following recipes.
- Easy access. When you take time to think about how often we use salt, it’s understandable that you’d want it to be easily available.
Salt cellars come in many styles. From classic to farmhouse style, there is a salt pig to suit your kitchen décor.
We can't think of a better gift to get that person who has everything. Chances are they don't have a marble salt cellar and even if they do, this kitchen tool is something every kitchen could easily have two of...one for the cooking area and one for the table.
Head photo: Jennifer Latuperisa-Andresen on Unsplash
Salt cellar photos courtesy of Carrie of @pantrytotableblog