Salt Shaker

A Salt Shaker

After much experimentation I've done it. I made a salt shaker! It's my entry for the edible book festival that 826 Seattle is putting on. I'm doing Salt: A World History.

It was actually much harder to do this than I thought it would be. I thought I could just wet some salt a little bit, shove it in the mold (Rakka already published pictures of the mold making), and it would dry solid. Wrong. It stayed mushy.

So I tried some white glue. Yeah, not very edible, but kids eat paste. Anyway, it didn't work. The salt solidified it in to little balls, instantly. Weird. So I tried gelatin, at Rakka's suggestion, but it prevented the gelatin from setting. Ugh, that one was gross to clean up.

Time to drop a little bit of Science. Salt does weird things to water. I'm not a chemist, so I don't know all the details. But I'm pretty sure that's why the glue and the gelatin failed so horribly. What I needed was a binder with no actual water in it. My next attempt was with corn syrup.

hot hot sugar

Corn syrup is in everything these days anyway, why not salt sculptures? You can get it at any old grocery store; Karo is the brand we get around here. It's pretty viscous at room temperature, but I didn't want to cook the sugar. So I heated it in a double boiler setup.

talk about salty-sweet

This worked well. The salt didn't do anything weird with the sugar at all. It just got sticky. It got very grainy, almost fluffy.

getting fluffy. fluffy salt? weird.


But it compressed well. I just shoved it in the mold as hard as I could. Then tied up the mold so it didn't move around. A couple hours in the freezer and it was as hard as a rock, though a bit skewed. I squared it up a little bit with a small cheese grater.

it's still crystally

The best part is the salt crystals are still visible. It's exactly what I was looking for.


Phil Wilson said...

wow, you put some serious effort into that! did you taste all the different concoctions? or did you just decide that they would taste, er, like salt?

leff said...

There were some of them that I wouldn't have tasted if you paid me (the gelatin/jello one for instance).

It's really all about the look. It's technically edible, but I wouldn't advice taking a bite :)

Irregular Shed said...

That's way nifty. It's funny that corn syrup is so omnipotent over there, it's not something you can generally buy over here!

BTW - it's technically edible provided you fancy heart failure =)

leff said...

I do not like heart failure! No salt blox for me.

The corn syrup thing is kind of weird. Karo syrup has been on store shelves for as long as I can remember. I think home users do specialized baking things with it or something. It's only factory's that put it in salad dressing and crap.