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Salts of the World

Part 7 of 8

Moving on from sea salt references, we now take a look into Halite, better known as “rock salt”.  This type of salt is older in age than a sea salt because it is formed in sedimentary rock throughout different layers of the earth, is chunky, coarse and usually has more minerals than sea salt which in turn, promotes a stronger flavor profile.  It can be used in many ways from cooking, to beauty aids to an ice melt for your driveway.

A major European source of rock salt stems from Austria in an area known as Salzkammergut or “Estate of the salt chamber” where several rock salt mines are located along the Alpine mountains from Salzburg to Hallstatt. The largest is located in Hallstatt where a salt dome or diapir has pushed ancient sea salt up through harder layers of rock above it, somewhat like an eruption of lava would come from a volcano, a dome of hardened sea salt is pushed up to the earth’s surface. Hallstatt is said to be one of the oldest salt mines in the world dating back some 7,000 years according to the numerous artifacts and even human remains known as the “man of Salt” found in the mines.

 

Beyond their traditional uses of preserving artifacts, the salt that came from these mines were used to cure pork and preserve meats in the mountainous regions. Today they are used for many kitchen, cooking and table salt purposes. The “Alpenbergkern Salt” from this area can range in color depending on the mine it was harvested from and the minerals found within.  Colors such as grey, pink, and black can be found, but in general the salt is a tan color. One can only imagine the variety of flavor each salt could impart.

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