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Kitchen Block Salt

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hairygrape | 21:37 Sun 14th May 2017 | Food & Drink
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I've finally discovered that the internet is rubbish when researching some things.

In the Fifties and Sixties, I remember it was commonplace to buy salt in the form of waxed paper blocks for culinary purposes. My parents and grandparents used to slice a section off the block with a knife and crush it until it became useable as table salt. Often, a rolling pin would be employed for the purpose. I can't even find a photo of one of these blocks let alone the weight of a typical one ( in pounds and ounces for an old duffer like me)

Culinary block salt seems impossible to find nowadays, but I'm astonished that the internet doesn't appear to have even acknowledged its existence! I'm beginning to wonder if I dreamt it all!

Can block salt for kitchen cooking and table use be bought in the UK nowadays. Be warned - Googling "kitchen", "block" and "salt" together will point you in the direction of water softeners but little else. I'm begining to think I've gone doolally.

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We used to call that Brandy, Tease.
Tamborin and Togo, I'm afraid salt is NOT salt in the context of the OP's question. Salt licks for cattle, deer etc are indeed blocks of salt but they contain and are held together by mineral oil, zinc oxide and various salts of cobalt, calcium and iron amongst others as well as being flavoured by aniseed oil or similar. The salt they contain is typically crushed, unrefined, impure rock salt

I'll leave you to imagine what they taste like but believe me, they are not for human consumption.

I too remember shops stocking block salt and we usually had at least one block in the kitchen cupboard at home.
Not the soap Tease.
Nice correction Prof. At least we establish that salt did come in blocks, and fit for you man consumption. Silly moo me. :))
Togo, no harm done. Seems like I'm of around the same age as the OP!

I've had a look at the link you provided but once again, we're being deceived by EU regulations. Although the manufacture harps on about the purity and "organic" nature of the product, EU regulations permit the concealment of stuff like the mineral oil, inorganic chemical compounds and flavouring that I mentioned. All is not what it seems!
About the same age as myself then Prof. On my 70th tip around the Sun. Bleedin EU conned me again, Haha(gotta blame someone). Prof no offence was taken or harm imagined in your full description and due warning to be wary.
If you Google 1950s salt block a fair amount of info comes up.
Apparently you can now buy Himalayan salt blocks...to cook on.
Going to relate to demand. Grains in a container are far more convenient than blocks you need to scrape, so blocks will be difficult to stumble upon. Seems mostly used for water softening or as a board to cook on, these days.
Togo, I've not yet been on my 70th trip around the sun thankfully! I'm still working full-time at around 65 hours a week between my university work, my visiting professorships in the UK and abroad and my government/research agency work.

I've no plans to retire for a while and there's no reason that my employers would do so. I have four colleagues that are emeritus professors who are 79, 83, 84 and 86 respectively, astonish me with their knowledge at times and refer to me as "boy" behind closed doors!
I remember salt in bloscks - and I'm not *that* old - possibly because my mum worked in catering.

There are some pictures on this page - see Fig 4 and Fig 5

http://ecosal-atlantis.ua.pt/index.php?q=content/middlewich-salt-fair
Old_Geezer, you would think so, wouldn't you? I know that when salt blocks were commonplace, they cost a fraction of the likes of Cerebos and Saxa salt in drums. That was the reason people bought them and no doubt the thrift inherited from the war years played a part.

Yes, convenience plays a part for many people but I'm not so certain that there's not a market out there for the reintroduction of culinary salt blocks if the price was right. The internet is awash with people suggesting how to reduce day to day living costs and clever marketing might well be financially advantageous for the right company.

I doubt the OP was thinking in terms of boards to cook on and let's be fair, Hairygrape did specify culinary use. These salt boards are made from Himalayan salt, cannot be turned granular, are coloured and don't look anything like culinary salt blocks.

British Salt in Middlewich, now owned by Tata, produce thousands of tons of pure dried vacuum culinary salt for the food industry as well as packaging evaporated unrefined brine in the form of blocks for water softener use. They have the processing facilities necessary on site to convert culinary salt into blocks if they so desired given that market research could demonstrate that the product was innovative.
but salt is cheap and people are using less in food....
woofgang, I can tell you the cost of block salt per 100 gram would be even cheaper having extrapolated the wholesale cost of vacuum packed salt manufactured by British Salt. It works out at around a quarter of the cost of the same weight of salt out of a typical supermarket own-brand salt drum even after factoring in a profit for the retailer.

It would be wrong to say that we are using less salt. You may well be sprinkling less on your chips, but the reality is that we are eating more and more processed food in the UK each day, virtually all of which requires a year on year increase in salt production. British Salt don't package the stuff in 25Kg and 100Kg bags and then onto pallets for nothing - it doesn't go to be packaged for supermarkets in 500g/750g drums, it goes to processed food manufacturers.

I'd suggest you to take a look at the annual production figures from members of The Salt Association for different viewpoint on the amount of salt produced annualy. Incidentally, you can dismiss any idea that the increase is due to use as water softening agents,road salt and export. France produces far more and far cheaper salt than the UK and France is not alone.

There are in the UK a number of organisations with influential academics, physiologists, nutritionists, food scientists etc that would have you believe that we are consuming less salt. These include CASH and WASH amongst others. Historic data will show that whilst the work of these organisations is admirable, they have had little influence on overall salt consumption. This is in part due to their inability to explain in simple terms to the public the difference between "Sodium" and "Sodium Chloride" in food - the maximum recommended intake of these differs and seems to continue to be a major hurdle that cannot be simply explained to the public. Food manufacturers take advantage of this confusion when declaring Nutrition Information. EU and FSA labelling regulations on these declarations has also not helped.


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