Spice Journey: Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

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Did you know that this common addition to many spice cabinets was created so long ago, it pre-dates the dinosaurs? This pink salt is believed to quite possibly be the most ancient of all sea salts. Dried up oceans have left salt beds hundreds of feet deep under the Himalayan region. Local salt miners now work to extract this 250 million+ year old mineral by hand. This rare salt is then loaded onto yaks and brought down the mountain to be distributed throughout Pakistan via the same trade route that has been used for centuries. (Pictured above: Khewra Salt Mine) 

Sodium Chloride Crystal

What is Pink Himalayan Sea Salt?

 

Salt is a crystalline mineral made of two elements, sodium and chlorine (NaCl). These elements are essential for life and serve important functions in the body. Pure sodium chloride is white, but this rare salt gets its range of pink, white, and red hues due to mineral impurities and veining throughout the mine.

 

The Harvest & Journey

 

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mine located near the Himalayas in Pakistan. It is the second largest salt mine in the world. The Pink Himalayan Sea Salt beds were created by ancient oceans over 250 million years ago—as the Himalayas formed, the ocean layers were lifted, covered by lava and then ice for millennia.

The Khewra Mine produces 325,000 tons of salt every year –that’s 12 times the weight of the Statue of Liberty. A large quantity of that is exported worldwide. To this day, traditional methods are used to harvest the salt—stone cutters have passed down their techniques from generation to generation of workers in the mine. The salt is mined using the room and pillar method, extracting 1500 tons of rock salt daily. It is named the room and pillar method because the miners leave 50% of the salt behind to act as a pillar for the mountain.

The salt is brought down the mountain, across the sea, and to our warehouse in Denver, CO where it is bottled and labeled by hand.

Entrance to Khewra Salt Mine
Entrance to the Khewra Salt Mine
Turkish Margarita
Turkish Margarita

What does it taste like?

 

You would be hard-pressed to detect any major taste differences between Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and regular table salt, except that sea salt is usually coarser, even when finely ground. Coarser sea salts produce a different mouthfeel when sprinkled on food after it’s been cooked, and cause a desirable flavor burst.

Pink Himalayan Sea Salt can be used in recipes as you would any other salt, but it is absolutely beautiful as a finishing salt on any dish or cocktail.

 

Course Pink Himalayan Sea Salt
Coarse Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

To Your Kitchen

 

To think that Pink Himalayan Sea Salt has witnessed 250 million years of history just to land in a jar in your cabinet is humbling, isn’t it?

We carry Fine and Coarse Pink Himalayan Sea Salt, as well as Himalayan Salt Blocks. If you prefer to grind your own salt, coarse is the way to go.

Coarse salts are also ideal for hearty foods like steaks. For delicate dishes like pickled veggies, soups, desserts, and popcorn, opt for the finely ground salt.

 

Cooking on Himalayan Salt Blocks

Himalayan Salt Block
Himalayan Salt Block

 

One of the most popular uses of Pink Himalayan Salt is actually as a cooking block. This unique cookware is a creative and tasty way to use Himalayan salt in your kitchen.

To heat, simply place in a cold oven, on the stove, on the grill, or under the broiler. For all heating methods, let the salt plate come up to temperature slowly. If you wish, you can remove the Himalayan salt brick then cook on it, as it holds heat for a long time.

Ideal for cooking fish, shrimp, scallops, Kobe beef, poultry, portobellos, peppers, kabobs, potato wedges, and just about anything else you enjoy with a little hint of salt. The food will cook evenly and quickly, and will be seasoned as it cooks.

To learn more about this cooking method and for over 70 fabulous salt block recipes, we recommend Salt Block Cooking by best-selling author and salt expert Mark Bitterman.

 

 

What other spices would you like to learn more about? Let us know in the comments below!

 


Comments on this Article


(guest), on April 17, 2018

Very informative on the history of this salt. When cooking, however, I try to use as little salt as possible (except for what is necessary for taste), due to low sodium diets in our house. Is there a benefit to using Pink Himalayan Salt instead of using white sea salt?

(guest), on April 17, 2018

Any difference btw pink and Kosher salt?

(guest), on April 17, 2018

Interesting description. I assume you mean coarse, not course. (Of course. :-) )

Ariana (registered user) on April 17, 2018

Thank you for your comments! For the person who asked about the benefits of Pink Himalayan over other sea salts, there is a lot of conflicting information out there. I would suggest doing your own research. As for the difference between Pink Himalayan and Kosher Salts, Kosher salt tends to have a flakier texture. Of course we meant coarse ;) thanks for pointing that out!

(guest), on April 17, 2018

I would think salt in general predates the dinosaurs and a natural compound of the earth. As long as we've had salt water in the oceans its been around so I think these was cheating a little bit in saying a "spice" predates the dinosaurs. Yes, it does, but not in the way most people think of spices.

Ariana (registered user) on April 17, 2018

Hi, thanks for the comment! Perhaps there's a bit of a misunderstanding. Salt of course is a mineral and as you say, as long as there have been oceans there has been salt. However, the Khwera Salt Mine where Pink Himalayan Salt comes from is considered the oldest mineable salt bed. The salt bed itself was created over 250 million years ago. I hope that clarifies for you!

(guest), on April 17, 2018

Tried the pre-dinosaur salt once. Thanks, Thanks a lot. My cave stunk for weeks after that.

(guest), on April 17, 2018

I use pink Himalayan salt, but make sure I use less than the specified amounts in recipes. Otherwise, the dish tastes too salty to me.

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