Himalayan salt is an important addition to every chef’s kitchen. Not only does the unique combination of minerals add an intense and complex flavour to your dish, there are a number of imaginative ways you can cook with it.
Himalayan salt comes from the Khewra Salt Mine. Located in Pakistan it is the oldest in the world. This area, known as the Great Salt Range was formed millions of years ago when tectonic plates collided, which in part helped create the Himalayan mountains but also trapped an inland sea within the mountain. Because of the way the salt mine was formed it has remained untouched by animals or humans and is free of pollutants normal salt beds experience. The pink hue that Himalayan Salt is famous for comes from iron oxide - one of many minerals found in this unique salt.
Just like a bamboo cutting board, your Himalayan salt block needs a little bit of initial care. When you first get it you should be very careful about how quickly you heat it, although as a good rule of thumb, always heat your block slowly to prevent it from cracking. You have a 100 million year old crystal in your kitchen and like all salt, it wants to absorb moisture (water) from the air. When you heat the salt the moisture needs to find a way out of the crystalline structure, a gradual heating allows this. Otherwise the moisture can get trapped within the salt and could lead to fractures. We suggest (on BBQ) 5 minutes low temp, 5 min medium temp, and 5 minutes on high before starting. Depending on your range, these times may have to be doubled.
You may notice small fissures and cracks the first time you heat your salt block up, this is normal. Also normal is the colour change – the salt block will usually grow paler the first few times you use it. However, if properly cared for this colour should take on its original pink hue over time. Cooking items like chicken and fish can discolour your stone but it will in no way effect its performance or cause flavours to transfer.
Never use oil on the surface of your salt block when cooking. If you do need to cook with oil or butter, brush it on the food, not the stone. The amazing thing about this stone is that it is like a cast iron frying pan, it sears food amazingly well and food by and large does not stick to it, making oil unnecessary!
After you’re done cooking make sure to let your salt stone block cool completely before attempting to clean it. Be prepared to wait for it to cool down. Himalayan salt stones can be heated to extreme temperatures, as high as 900 degrees Fahrenheit. It will depend how long it was heated for but expect at least a few hours to cool your stone down first.
Maintenance is quite simple, use a food scraper, a metal spatula or a BBQ wire brush to scrape and remove any debris from the stone. If you really have something stuck, such as a protein like cheese, simply put the stone face down on the fire to burn off excess food particles then scrape clean.
Don’t ever submerge your salt stone in water! When cleaning your Himalayan salt stone, you want to keep it far away from both soap and excess water, which will only wear away the slab faster. Instead of submerging it, take a damp cloth and rub off any debris, making sure there is no food on it, then take a clean cloth and pat it dry. Because of the antimicrobial properties of the salt, you don’t need to worry about using harsh detergents to keep it sanitary.
Remember, if you do add water to your stone, you need to leave it for 24 hours to fully dry, and then slowly reheat the stone to allow the moisture to escape all over again.
There isn’t a lot to do to keep your Himalayan salt stone pristine, but following these few simple rules will make it last for years to come.