Salt is an ingredient used by people every day. But not everyone knows exactly how it should be categorized. Some people refer to salt as a spice just because it always goes with black pepper – one of the most popular spices. But what is salt?
Is salt a condiment? Yes, salt is a condiment. A condiment is a substance added to food when it is already cooked. As it is used to adjust the flavor of cooked food, it falls under the category of condiments along with such substances as ketchup and mustard.
This article explains why salt is a condiment and not a spice as many people think.
Is Salt A Condiment Or Spice?
First and foremost, salt is used to flavor food. People use it in small amounts to enhance the sweet, sour, and umami notes in food.
Aside from being used as a flavor enhancer, salt is one of the most popular food preservatives. Salt dries food by drawing water out of the cells of products it is added to. It slows down the growth and reproduction processes of bacteria and the food lasts significantly longer.
Salt is also an essential addition to any dining table. In fact, it is hard to imagine a restaurant table without a pair of shakers. One of these shakers contains salt while the other has ground black pepper.
We all know black pepper is a spice. But what is salt? Is it a spice too or is salt a condiment? To find out whether salt is a condiment or not we need to first learn what is a condiment and what is a spice.
What Is A Condiment?
The word condiment has different definitions. On one hand, a condiment is a substance that you add to food when it is ready and served.
According to some definitions, condiments include not only such substances as ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, but also salt.
Taking into account the definition of the word, it is only natural to consider salt a condiment as we always have it on the table for people to adjust the dish to their preferences as far as the saltiness is concerned.
While salt can be considered a condiment nowadays, it wouldn’t if the word hadn’t changed from its original meaning. Originally, the term condiment meant a pickled or preserved food.
Now, however, as we have already mentioned, it is used to refer to any food enhancer. And it doesn’t matter whether it is a simple one like salt or a complicated substance like fruit chutney and pesto sauce.
The term condiment is used interchangeably with the word seasoning too. This is a general term that refers to salt, spices, and herbs.
Seasoning applies to anything that we use in the preparation of food to intensify and enhance the natural flavor of ingredients. So, you can certainly call salt a seasoning too.
Why Salt Is Not a Spice
So, salt is a condiment and a seasoning. But many people wonder if salt can also be considered a spice. If you are wondering the same thing, then you should know that salt is not a spice.
It is very easy to explain why salt is not a spice. In culinary terms, the word spice refers to seeds, roots, and other dried parts of plants, except for the leaves, which are referred to as herbs.
Some examples of spices include vanilla (the bean that comes from tropical orchid vines), cinnamon, (the bark of a tree), cloves (dried flower bud), etc. Spices are used to season and flavor food.
While there is a set of spices used in nearly all cuisines, each culture has at least a few spices that are unique to its cooking traditions.
Salt is not a plant-based seasoning. Thus, it is not a spice. Salt is an organic mineral composed of sodium chloride.
There are different types of salt. Some of the most popular types of salt used in cooking and baking include table salt, kosher salt, and sea salt. They all differ in grain size and the level of saltiness.
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