Please Pass the Greek Sea Salt!

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Greek Sea Salt

Last week, I ran out of salt.

No idea how it happened but there I was with a piled-high platter of hot, golden Greek fried squash and not a grain of salt in the entire house.

With hope fading as fast as the tiganites were cooling, I ran to the junk drawer (last refuge of the hopeless) and dug out three little red and white packets of take-out salt – hooray!!

The squash were saved, crisis averted. If only, I thought smugly as I wrapped a Band-Aid around my bleeding thumb just stabbed by a rogue bamboo skewer, Varoufakis had a magic junk drawer like mine. He could solve all of Greece’s problems and even have time leftover to buy some new ties! Sadly, the first bite of just-salted, still warm fried squash revealed an unfortunate truth… not all salt is created equal.

To me, Greek sea salt is hands down the very best. Yes, ok I may be a bit biased but honestly it has such an especially bright flavor! Sweet, mild, fresh and clean – Greek sea salt makes everything you put it on, or in, just taste better.

These take-out packets of ordinary table salt, though better than nothing, were a very poor substitute for my beautiful blue and white bottles of Kalas Greek Sea Salt.  After ordering a case of Kalas later that same night in an effort to avoid a repeat of the day’s earlier, admittedly first-world, drama I read on a bit about sea salt in general and was surprisingly fascinated!

Did you know (yes, go ahead and impress your friends with these gems) that we need salt to live, as it properly regulates our nerve and muscle functions? And did you know that salt has served as currency in many cultures? The word ‘salary’ in Latin means, literally, payment in salt (sal) with salt often considered as valuable as gold. And sea salt harvesting is one of the oldest industries in human history. Think on these tidbits the next time you casually sprinkle away!

Sea Salt Lagoons of Messolonghi

Sea Salt Lagoons of Messolonghi

Kalas salt, as I read on, is harvested primarily in Messolonghi.  I recognized this famous city for it’s role in Greek revolutionary history, and I think Lord Byron lived somewhere nearby, but learned that it is also one of the largest sea salt producing regions in Europe.

Sea Salt Mountains of Messolonghi

Sea Salt Mountains of Messolonghi

Briefly, the ocean water washes into and over shallow pools or lagoons as they’re called. The sun and the wind evaporate the water, the salt concentrates, rising to the top and then the salt layer is skimmed off. Depending on the type of salt grain desired, the sea salt is washed and crushed and packaged with a minimal amount of, if any, processing.

Did you know that science has shown that sprinkling salt on foods amplifies the sweet flavor notes and tamps down the bitter? It’s a mineral with properties to both preserve and desiccate equally well. Salt is also one of the few spices we very often use in both sweet and savory cooking to, for example, help bread dough rise, dehydrate fish and meat, and pickle vegetables

And not just for consumption – you can also, as my yiayias both regularly did, clean drains with sea salt.  Obviously they were more aware of the antibacterial properties of salt than I! Keep it on hand in the kitchen to put out grease fires, use to gently exfoliate skin or mix with vinegar to keep pots and pans spotless.

Forget Celtic or Pink Himalayan sea salt – go Greek or go home people. Do your part for the motherland’s economy and keep Angela Merkel at bay with each grain, each shake and each sprinkle. Hey, didn’t people use salt to keep away vampires?  Please pass the Greek sea salt!

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This post was written by Kiki Vagianos

About Kiki Vagianos

Author and creator of the hit blog The Greek Vegan, Kiki Vagianos loves to eat, cook, and write about traditional, authentic meat and dairy free Greek food. A firm believer that loukoumades are directly linked to the creative center of the brain and still sad that Chris Chelios is retired, you can find Kiki and her dad in the kitchen rediscovering and sharing simple, simply delicious nistisima dishes.

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