The phrases “spice” and “seasoning” are frequently used interchangeably among home cooks. When it comes to boosting the flavor of food, salt and spices are used. Most people have been cooking meals without considering the differences between these two and think of salt as a spice. If you are wondering if salt is a spice or not or what is the difference between spices and salt then we have got you covered.
Let’s get into the details of salt and spices to help you understand their difference and ultimately how to use them in a better way to reach new levels in your cooking.
Knowing what distinguishes them allows you to use them interchangeably for specific recipes that provide just the appropriate amount of flavor. Let’s start with why salt is considered an important part of every cuisine and what salt does to the food?
Why Is Salt Important?
Almost every one of us is aware of salt and uses it regularly to give flavor to our foods. Salt is a mineral compound of sodium and chloride and is very important for a balanced diet. It aids the body in performing many fundamental activities.
Many foods contain sodium naturally, and a well-balanced diet should be high in minerals and vitamins. The amount of salt we consume from different foods varies based on our unique eating habits, but naturally salt-containing foods account for about 20% of the salt we consume.
For thousands of years, salt has been used to preserve and increase the flavor of foods. Other than that, it is also used as a color control agent while coloring fabric, a binder, a texturizer, and an inhibitor of bacterial growth.
Is Salt Considered A Spice Or Not?
People have been using salt for various purposes for centuries. While using it for cooking, most people consider it a spice which is absolutely not true. Salt, in all terms, is not a spice. Salt and spices are different things used for different reasons. Let’s see what salt and spices are and how they are different from each other.
Difference Between Salt And Spices
Salt and spices are two different ingredients used mostly in cooking. Here we are going to tell you in detail why salt is not a spice and the main properties of salt and spices.
Salt is a widely used seasoning and it is not a spice. It is, instead, a natural mineral. It is obtained from mines and evaporated ocean water and is primarily a compound of sodium and chloride. It adds saltiness to foods and brings out the flavor of other ingredients. It falls under the category of seasoning. Salt does not change the actual flavor of your food. Salt enhances the flavor of other ingredients and makes it more refined. The salt powder is also used in recipe mixes and with other herbs.
Other than flavoring the meals, salt provides essential sodium to the body. This sodium is required to perform various body functions. Low sodium can cause serious health issues. Salt is the easily accessible source of the recommended amount of sodium. But keep in mind, the excess salt can be harmful.
You will find various types of salts in the market that differ in color and grain texture. Some of the most widely used salts are table salt, pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, kosher salt, black salt, Celtic salt, and Dead Sea salt. The main use of most of the salts is to season the foods. But all these salts also have other uses based on their specific properties. Salt is used for seasoning meals, preserving food, curing meat, pickling, and even drawing hot salt baths, etc.
You will even find culinary products made with Himalayan salt in the market. This salt culinary includes shot glasses, salad bowl, cooking block, serving platter, and mortar and pestle. Sea salt is an important ingredient in many skin care products. Dead Sea salt is a popular bath salt.
In contrast to salt, spices such as black pepper, turmeric, and cloves are organic plant-based ingredients that are used to add flavor and aroma to meals. Spices are aromatic substances originating from different parts of the plants like roots, barks, seeds, leaves, and fruits. Some popular spices are black pepper, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, dill, vanilla, and turmeric. All these spices have very strong flavors and aromas. Spices are mostly used in dried and fresh forms. Spices are used for flavoring, coloring, preserving, and garnishing food.
A lot of spices have antibacterial qualities, which means they can kill or inhibit microbes from growing. This is why spices are used to preserve food. Spices do not deteriorate or have an expiration date, although they do lose flavor with time. Spices last for a long time if kept in a cold and dry place. That is why storing them in air-tight or sealed jars is recommended.
Instead of using store-bought spices, it’s better to grind your own right before using them. When we ground spices using a food processor, they lose their flavor and aroma. You can use a mortar and pestle or a hand grinder to grind the spices. When you grind them using the force of your hands, spices do not lose their actual flavor and aroma.
Spices may add flavor and aroma to your cuisine while also being more beneficial for your health than salt. Spices are packed with antioxidants and have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Many spices are used as a home remedy for many health problems. For example, turmeric is known for its healing properties. It is used to disinfect wounds and accelerate the healing process. It also heals the body internally.
Salt and spices are two different natural things that are used for different purposes. Salt is a mineral compound obtained from mines and seawater. Spices are parts of plants and are used for adding flavor and aroma to food.