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Ramblings on Salt

September 28, 2021

Another Way for week of September 17, 2021

Ramblings on Salt

So sooo happy to have summer canning done. The morning is cool and we had a beautiful 1.5 inches of rain yesterday. The leaves are beginning to come down, just a few.

Some West Virginia color.

I know others still “put up” and preserve foods like grape juice, pears, applesauce, and even meats long into fall and even winter. Such as my friend Lovina Eicher, whose column appears in many more newspapers than mine! And I just realized how much my first paragraph reads like many of her columns.

I was marveling about some of my older canned goods. I recently used a can of tomatoes that we canned in 2018. Yes, that’s getting on the old side, but the color of the tomatoes still looked good and after adding it to my chili soup and letting it boil for a bit, I tasted it and it was fine.

So, how much salt did it take to preserve those tomatoes over three years? About a half teaspoon is what I use—I don’t want to over-salt. My small amount of research on this topic says that salt preserves food by “inhibiting microbial [bacterial] growth. Salt acts by drawing water out of the cells of foods and bacteria through a process known as osmosis. Reducing the amount of water available to bacteria inhibits or slows bacterial growth and reproduction” (from

This educational website goes on to say that Kosher salt is best to use because ordinary table salt may have iodine added and that is not ideal, The use of salt to preserve foods dates back to ancient times (Roman empire) when salt was even used as a currency or form of money.

I didn’t know that kosher salt was better for canning. I’m sure I’ve used salt with iodine because that’s usually in my cupboard. And of course we all know that too much salt is bad for health, especially blood pressure. We need to watch the amount of sodium in prepared foods that we buy. Sometimes packaged foods (which I enjoy sometimes) have sodium levels amounting to 45 percent of your daily allowance (or more), and ends up leaving a salty taste in your mouth.

Here in Virginia, we love our country hams, which are preserved with salt and other seasonings and left to hang in a special shed used for the purpose of curing hams. They are sometimes smoked. They do not need to be frozen or kept in the refrigerator, and you always soak some of the salt out of the ham before cooking or eating it.

Country ham is also like the delicacy prosciutto (which means ham in Italian) and is often used as an appetizer or in a sandwich. I remember when I was just 12 or 13 and our family traveled through Virginia and stopped in a restaurant for lunch or dinner. My dad was perplexed by the two types of ham on the menu, Virginia ham or Country ham. He must have ordered country ham because I remember him talking about how salty it was.

The Bible itself has references to salt: “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled underfoot” (Matthew 5:13). In the Old Testament salt is listed as a possible offering to God, and also used in a contract. Land was also described as worthless if it was filled with salt.

I’ve heard pastors preach sermons talking about the value of being salty: usually it is someone who helps preserve and make better those around him or her. I like that definition.

And I also have new respect for the salt in my canned green beans, tomatoes, and tomato juice!


Thoughts or experiences? Share here or contact me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Interesting take on salt, Melodie. The body does need salt, but when I buy grocery items, I usually choose the “low salt” option.

    Like you, I want to be salt and light today.

    Holding you and your family in my prayers. 😀

  2. Too much salt is too much!! I agree. Thanks for your prayers and support through this medium!

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