Our salt-free solution
Most commercial rubs have salt in them, sometimes up to half the blend. Salt is cheap, rubs are expensive, and diluting a blend with salt leads to more profits.
Spice Source’s Spice Blends are not only premium in taste and quality, but also contain no added salt or artificial preservatives. Furthermore, all Spice Blends are MSG free, potassium chloride free and naturally low in calories.
Salt isn’t evil, but too much salt may cause health problems
The body relies on sodium for a variety of functions, including blood pressure, the transmission of nerve impulses and the regulation of water content in your cells. Salt is also a preservative and antimicrobial, hence why many meats and vegetables are brined or pickled before refrigeration.
However, sodium levels in the blood must be carefully maintained. Too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Our first world diets are increasingly unhealthy and whilst the topic on the ideal diet is debatable, there are undisputed links between increased sodium levels and potential for health problems.
Why salt-free spice blends are better
Aside from maximising quality and desirable flavour, there are other reasons as to why we have kept salt away from our spice blends.
- Keeping salt separate lets you apply the right amount of salt to your meats, which varies based on type and thickness of meat, unlike spice blends which are “surface treatments” that do not penetrate (see Dry Brining below)
- Salt isn’t required on cured meats
- For decades, meats/poultry have been injected with saltwater solutions deep into tissue meat to help meat retain moisture (and add weight arguably for higher profits)
- Some people are on salt-restricted diets for health reasons
- People have varying degrees of salt preference. By separating salt from our rubs, you can tailor saltiness to taste.
- Salt won’t dissolve with oil, which is sometimes mixed with our rubs. By applying salt first, the water in the meat will pull it in, then the oil won't interfere.
- Excluding salt from our rubs gives you the opportunity to add salt as you please before serving.
Spices and herbs are “surface treatments” only and do not penetrate deeply into the meat. Salt on the other hand penetrates by way of osmosis. Applying salt separately and in advance is a technique called dry brining. Dry brining is typically performed a day before cooking for thick cuts, or up to a few hours before cooking for thin cuts. Salt will attract water molecules from the cell and even the air to dissolve on the surface. At that point, it becomes mobile and will use diffusion and osmosis to move into the meat.
Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking (via osmosis) and allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked (via denaturation). The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to diffuse into the cell, whilst the solutes in the cells cannot diffuse through the cell membranes into the brine. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix that traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from dehydrating.
You can read more about this in On Food and Cooking by Harold McGee.
Rule of thumb: 1/2 teaspoon of table salt (or 1 teaspoon of kosher salt) per kilogram of meat before refrigerating for 1-2 hours.
Adding spices in advance does little to benefit the meat below the surface because they cannot penetrate. Read more about why rubs and marinades don't penetrate in my article on marinating.
The amount of salt you use on meats will vary pork shoulder to chicken breasts to leg of lamb. However, you don't need more spices on any of these because they don't penetrate. Keeping salt separate lets you apply the right amount of each.