Salt Pigs and More in The Pantry
Throughout history people have developed clever ways to store and serve salt. Our own Dryden potter, Mark Roberson, is crafting his own version of the traditional Scottish “salt pig”—a form based on a “hooded” earthenware container that would help absorb moisture from the air and keep salt from clumping. From individual “dips” to cellars and shakers, crocks and “pigs”, the storing and serving of salt was important, but why?
These days it’s easy to take salt for granted, but at one point in history salt was a treasure second only to gold! Valued for not only flavoring food, but in the days before refrigeration, salt was vital to many cultures for preserving food. It was so important that part of a Roman soldiers wages was paid to them in salt and that word for their pay—“salarium”—is where our modern word “salary” comes from.
Time magazine has a great little article on the history of salt. “The history of the world according to salt is simple: animals wore paths to salt licks; men followed; trails became roads, and settlements grew beside them. When the human menu changed from salt-rich game to cereals, more salt was needed to supplement the diet. But the underground deposits were beyond reach, and the salt sprinkled over the surface was insufficient. Scarcity kept the mineral precious. As civilization spread, salt became one of the world’s principal trading commodities.
Morton Salt’s website has great information on the history of salt as well with a mention of Syracuse New York and its role in the salt industry. “During the war of 1812, it became very difficult to obtain salt from abroad and because of this commercial production of salt began in Syracuse. However, because it’s bulk and heavy, transportation of salt has always been an issue however Syracuse salt was brought to Chicago by way of the old Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. As early as 1848 the canal was known as “the ditch that salt built.” The salt that was produced at this time was from “brine wells”. The salt that’s produced in the Finger Lakes today is mined from deposits deep under the Finger Lakes. There are 4 operational salt mines in the US and the deepest rock salt mine in North America—operated by Cargill Salt—is located about 2,400 feet below the bed of our own Cayuga Lake.
Besides these cool Salt Pigs, you can find a variety of one of kind creations from Mark right here in The Pantry at Dedrick's Farm Market!
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