Archive / September, 2016

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt

We sell a lot of salt.

It is, after all, one of the top two most commonly used spices in the country. It’s available to add to any dish on nearly every table in nearly every restaurant. Heck, we even have taste buds whose sole duty is to detect salt. It’s no surprise then that there are a wide variety of salts available to cook with and consume.

Across this range though, not all salts are alike. Even though the flavor they impart is mostly similar from one to the next, there are important differences. The factors that separate most salt varieties are subtle background flavors, appearance, and nutrient content. We try to keep you covered by offering a huge selection of salts from all over the world, with a wide range of delicate flavors and a striking diversity of appearances. And now we’re adding yet another!

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt is enjoying a bit of time in the spotlight these days, and we’re excited to be adding a new fine grind variation to our extensive list. This salt is so popular right now, people are making lamps, essential oil burners, and other house hold items from it with the thought that it can help purify the air. The rich color of this salt is the result of the dozens of naturally occurring trace minerals found in the ocean water that covered parts of the middle east near the mighty Himalayan mountains millennia ago.

Typical white table salt has been processed down so heavily that most all the healthy trace minerals have been extracted and removed. This pure white refined table salt unfortunately dominates at the grocery store and across much of the restaurant industry. Himalayan pink sea salt, like many of our other more exotic salts, hasn’t been stripped and leached of its mineral nutrients, making it not only a more visually attractive choice for the shaker on your table, but a more nutritious one.

Previously, we only kept the larger, coarser Himalayan pink sea salt in inventory. This is a great choice as a finishing salt for meats and fish, as it stands out both visually and on the palate. However, so many of our customers wanted to be able to add a little distinction to their restaurant’s tables, that we finally added the fine grind as an option.

Try it out, and let us know what you think.

Cinnamon Sticks

As the summer winds down and we get ready to head into the fall season, demand for cinnamon will begin its seasonal climb. Everyone is familiar with cinnamon, and most people have a fond regard for it. But what exactly is it? It’s an unusual spice in terms of its origin and processing, and as I added some to my coffee this morning, I thought it might nice to share some insight.

Cinnamon, as we think of it, is dried tree bark. Most spices are crushed plant matter of one sort or another: roots, chile pods, leaves, seeds, etc. Cinnamon sticks are unique in that they give you perfectly clear picture of their origin, even if it isn’t immediately obvious.

The bark is harvested from a variety of trees in the genus Cinnamomum (no, really! i looked it up). These plants are evergreen trees and shrubs with aromatic oils in their bark. When you look at a cinnamon stick, you’re seeing that bark and nothing else. The bark is peeled from live or freshly fallen trees prior to their use in local lumber projects across (mostly) Southeast Asia. The bark is peeled in straight sheets, then cut into thin strips. As the sheets dry out, they naturally curl in on themselves forming the familiar tubes we recognize as cinnamon sticks.

Once the sun has thoroughly done its duty, the sticks are processed a bit further. The outer edges of the stick (the part that used to be the exposed part of the plant’s trunk) is scraped off by hand. Then some are sold as is, and others are ground down for cinnamon powder.

The other interesting tidbit about cinnamon is the name. We use the word ‘cinnamon’ erroneously most of the time, if we want to be technical about it. The majority of cinnamon consumed here in the states is actually from a particular plant called cassia. So called ‘true cinnamon’ is from a tree called ceylon. Ceylon is a smaller shrub like tree, while cassia is a much bigger plant.

But we’re not feeling too technical most of the time, and like almost everyone else out there, we call our ‘cassia bark’ cinnamon. We currently have our Six Inch Cinnamon Sticks on sale to welcome the cooler weather.

Hope the change in seasons treats you and your customers well.