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How long does salt last? Can it go bad?
What’s life without a pinch of salt? As we all know, salt is never absent in every home’s kitchen. Aside from being inexpensive, salt is a valuable element for survival. The sodium from salt is essential to your health as it is responsible for maintaining your body’s fluid balance, transmitting nerve impulses, and the proper functioning of your muscles.
If your body has low sodium levels, that means you are sodium deficient. Sodium deficiency causes your body to hold fluid to conserve sodium. As a result, you may feel weak, dizzy, confused, and irritable. And in worse cases, you may experience unpleasant effects such as seizures and vomiting.
Imagine a diet without any salt. What would it be like? It’s totally boring, right? What ordinary person wants to eat bland and flavorless food? Salt does wonders in enhancing the sweetness and suppressing the bitterness of your dishes. From vegetables, meat, fish, baked goods, sauces, and cereals, almost all foods need salt. Just make sure you are using it in moderate amounts. In moderation, the salt will enhance the sweetness and suppress bitterness.
Furthermore, salt is a preservative that also extends our foods’ shelf life by creating an environment making it unable for microbes such as bacteria, fungi, and other pathogenic organisms to survive. Salt absorbs moisture and dries the food out.
What types of salt do you personally prefer and store in your kitchen? Since salt has many uses, have you ever had the same batch of salt sitting in your for years? Have you ever wondered how long it can stay in your kitchen untouched?
(Also read: Sea Salt & Cacao Nib Brownies)
How to store salt?
Here are tips you should follow in storing salt:
- Whenever you have bought salt in bulk, it is best to repack it in smaller packs or containers. For example, you can keep them in quart size canning jars with plastic lids. Or, you can store them in an airtight plastic container.
- Store your salt inside an airtight container and keep it in a cool, dry, and dark place.
- Ensure that you have to keep your salt at constant storage temperature and away from the stove or dishwasher.
- If you store the salt for a long time, it is not recommended to put oxygen absorbers when packaging the salt. After all, salt is used in small quantities. Thus, it would be more convenient rather than store it in bulk. Just don’t forget to label each container that will serve as your reminder of which kinds of salt are inside the containers. Remember that salt is hygroscopic. It’s a water-loving compound that attracts water and holds it. That is why your salt will turn clumpy due to steam from the kitchen, and it can absorb kitchen odors, which may affect the taste.
- You can keep pink Himalayan salt, kosher salt, canning and pickling salt, and sea salt for long-term storage.
- Short-term storage includes iodized table salt, other canning, and pickling salt that contains fat stabilizers.
Can Salt Go Bad?
No, and yes. Pure salt, also known as sodium chloride, is a stable compound that doesn’t spoil. However, if salt is combined with other ingredients like herbs, seasonings, and additives, there is a tendency that it will lose its saltiness over time as the other ingredients such as the plant products will degrade.
How long does it last?
Pure salt is a natural preservative known as sodium chloride (NaCl). It is a stable compound that can last indefinitely without losing its flavor and potency. Pure salt comes in different varieties: sea salt, canning salt, and Pink Himalayan salt will last for like an eternity as long as you store it correctly. When it comes to iodized salt, its shelf life is short since it contains additives.
Here are different varieties of salt and its shelf life:
Table Salt. This kind of salt is an all-purpose granulated culinary salt that is mined from underground salt deposits. Table salt undergoes loads of processing to demineralize it. An anti-caking agent like calcium silicate is added to prevent it from clumping. As for its shelf life, table salt can last indefinitely. However, some manufacturers would indicate to consume it before five years.
Celtic salt. Celtic salt is known as dirt-free, clean, and pure ocean sea salt. Celtic salt’s sodium content is lower than table salt, and it has minerals like calcium and magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, and chromium. If you keep it away from moisture, Celtic salt can last indefinitely.
Iodized salt. Iodized salt means it is fortified with iodine. It is a table salt supplemented with potassium iodide and a minimal amount of sugar (dextrose) to prevent the iodine from turning yellow. Why do they put iodine? That is because many people around the world are iodine deficient. Iodine deficiency is one of the most prevalent nutrient deficiency conditions that can result in several health risks.
Unlike ordinary pure salt, iodized salt cannot last indefinitely. However, it can still last up to five years.
Canning and Pickling Salt. This salt is pure sodium chloride that is free from additives and anti-caking agents. Canning Salt has used food preservation as it doesn’t make the liquid look cloudy it doesn’t darken pickled products. If you want a clear brine solution, this salt is the best choice. Canning and pickling salt have an indefinite shelf life as long as you protect it from moisture to prevent it from forming clumps.
Real salt. This is the unrefined mineral salt that is used for culinary, health, and beauty purposes. Real salt is sourced from the ancient ocean located in Utah, USA. It contains a blend of minerals that makes it slightly sweet. Just like pink Himalayan salt, it comes in coarse, fine, kosher, and powdered salt. The storage life of real salt is indefinite.
Pink Himalayan Salt. This believed to be healthy salt comes from the mine of the Punjab region of Pakistan. Pink Himalayan salt indeed has slightly more minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, and iron than its pure counterpart, that doesn’t mean it can drastically impact your health. This salt is sold in different crystal sizes from coarse to extra fine. It also contains iodine but not as much as iodized salt. As for its shelf life, it can definitely last like forever.
Kosher salt. This is a coarse and flaky salt that was initially intended for kosher meats. Kosher salt has an indefinite shelf life as long as you keep it in a proper storage condition.
Curing salt. Curing salt is made to preserve meat and fish to prevent foodborne pathogens from spoiling the food. Curing salt may contain different ingredients. Besides salt, some products may have combinations of a few or more ingredients such as sodium nitrate, sodium nitrite, propylene glycol, and/or sugar. As for its shelf life, it varies depends on the ingredients it has. A curing salt that contains salt and sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite has an indefinite shelf life. The ones with propylene glycol, fat stabilizers, artificial flavors, or others go by the printer expiration date.
How to tell if it has gone bad?
- Salt that has been stored for a long time may harden or get a little crusty if it is exposed to steam or moisture. Either you break it apart so that you can use it or just simply throw it away.
- If your salt smells odd, that could mean that it has absorbed the odor from other food products. As an example, it can pick up the smell of cooked fried eggs or from that cooked, greasy bacon you make for breakfast. That doesn’t mean you cannot use the salt anymore, though. However, if you want your future dishes to carry the smell of yesterday’s breakfast, then you may discard the salt.
- For some reason, bugs and other insects can get into the package. It is best to throw that salt if it is infested with insects.
If your salt has gone bad for some reason, you can use that as a gargle solution if you have mouth sores or sore throat. You can put that on a tablecloth with a red wine stain. For rock salt, you can use that to quickly chill a bottle of champagne. Or, if you don’t have a freezer, you can mix salt and ice to lower its freezing point if you want to keep your homemade ice cream solidified.