Himalayan salt is all the rage, and for good reason. Himalayan salt boasts many health benefits, from preventing muscle soreness to promoting hydration and cleansing the air.
A Himalayan salt block also has a magic of its own: it can stay hot or cold for hours, making it great for cooking or using it as a serving platter. What are the health perks of using a salt block? What’s the history behind it? And how do you use it?
Himalayan salt blocks: a traditional culinary secret
Himalayan blocks are made from that distinctive orange-pink salt.
This salt is harvested from the mountains in Pakistan and pressed into blocks, which have been used in traditional Himalayan cooking for hundreds of years.
Like traditional table salt, Himalayan salt blocks contain sodium chloride. However, Himalayan salt also contains other beneficial minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
These minerals help to promote a healthy electrolyte balance, increase hydration, lower blood pressure, aid nutrient absorption, prevent muscle cramping, improve circulation, and strengthen bones.
Himalayan salt blocks have only just begun to grow in popularity in the US, gaining traction due to these health benefits. Cooking with Himalayan salt blocks isn’t just a health-promoting and tasty experience; it also looks really cool.
Stories from salt blocks
What are the origins of Himalayan salt?
Himalayan salt is thought to have been formed approximately 600 million years ago when a prehistoric sea dried up and left deposits of ancient salt in the ground.
Millions of years later, when Alexander the Great was conquering the known world, his horses stooped and began licking the ground in present-day Pakistan. The tradition of Himalayan salt mining began soon after.
That was back in the 4th-century B.C.E. As mining progressed and different forms of salt deposits were discovered; people began to cook on blocks of salt in the 16th century C.E. Today, the tradition continues and has spread around the world.
Level up your chef skills: temper your salt block
While Himalayan salt blocks can be heated or cooled to rather extreme temperatures, they are natural pieces of salt with fault lines.
As such, it’s important to heat your salt block slowly whenever you first begin cooking with it. This first-time warming-up process is called tempering your salt block.
Here’s how to do it:
- Set your oven to the lowest heat setting (usually 170 degrees Fahrenheit)
- Let your salt block sit in the oven at that temperature for half an hour
- Crank up the temperature by 50 degrees and let sit for another half an hour
- Don’t get nervous if your salt block develops lines or makes cracking and popping sounds! This is a normal part of the curing process.
- Repeat this process until you get to 500 degrees Fahrenheit
- Turn off your oven and let your salt block sit in the oven with the door closed until it’s cooled down to room temperature
Ways to cook with your salt block
After you’ve cured your salt block, make sure you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for gradually heating your salt block whenever you’re going to cook on it.
Take the time to heat it to a grilling temperature. If you don’t, your food will be undercooked and over salted.
The number one rule of salt blocks is to make sure temperature changes happen gradually.
Remember to never put oil directly on the salt block--put small amounts of oil onto the food you’re cooking. Lastly, remember never to put your salt block in the dishwasher.
Once you’ve mastered salt block care, here are some ways you can cook with your salt block:
Grill vegetables on the salt block. Brush them with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle them with your favorite seasoning.
Season your steak and place it on a fully heated salt block. Let it cook for three to five minutes, depending on how done you like your steak, flip, and grill for another three to five minutes.
Keep food chilled
A salt block can stay cold for hours. Chill gradually and place smoked salmon, cheeses, or even fruit on the block to keep them cold.
Himalayan salt blocks aren’t just a fashionable, flashy way to cook and display food. Their health benefits and history lend them a charm of their own.
To clean your Himalayan salt block, simply wipe with a damp cloth to remove any food debris.