Salt has been essential to the human diet for thousands of years. Used to cure and flavor food, it has been incorporated into language in the phrases “worth your salt,” “salt of the earth” and “take it with a grain of salt.” It has even been posited that Roman soldiers were paid with salt or given a special allowance for its purchase, hence the term “salary” from the Latin word for salt, "sal." It’s likely that most kitchens have some form of this familiar ionic compound, whether table, rock, Himalayan, kosher or some other exotic variety. Here are some new ways to use salt in the kitchen that you might not have considered.
 
Steak Out
You can turn a less expensive cut of meat into a delicious meal by coating it in a layer of kosher or sea salt and waiting an hour. The salt will initially pull the water from the meat, and you’ll start to the see the water on and around the plate. Next comes the magic: the salt will help tenderize the steak, breaking down the proteins. At the same time, it locks in the moisture to ensure your steak stays juicy. Before you grill, rinse the steaks well and pat them dry. You can also salt chicken and pork before grilling or roasting to achieve a similar delectable effect.
 
Fruit and Veggie Wash
Removing pesticides from produce can be a simple process if you soak your fruits and veggies in sea salt, which has been long thought to have disinfectant properties. A natural sea salt bath can work as a disinfectant and remove the layer of pesticides. Add a teaspoon of sea salt for every cup of lukewarm water you put in a basin. Stir the mixture until the salt dissolves, then let your fruit and veggies soak in this mix for two minutes before you rinse them and place them in the fridge.
 
In a Pickle
If you’ve got a healthy batch of cucumbers from your garden, consider using a pickling salt and herbs to create some delicious dills that can be preserved. Be sure to use the right amount, though, as pickling salt is more concentrated than the salt you’d use on your dinner table. Pickling salt is inexpensive (usually less than $1 a pound) and the process of turning cucumbers into pickles can be a fun science project for older kids to try. Be sure to use proper canning equipment to ensure a safe batch.
 
Rock and Crank
When was the last time you brought out the old-fashioned ice cream maker and cranked your way to delicious homemade ice cream? Rock salt is used in this process because it helps regulate the temperature and keep things cold. Bonus: you can use the same type of salt to deice your driveway and sidewalk in the winter. Talk about double duty!
 
Sweet and Salty
The combination of sweet and salty has been having a moment lately, appearing in everything from pre-packaged snacks to fancy treats from chocolatiers. Take a hint from dessert chefs and baristas and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on your next pan of brownies, homemade caramel corn or dessert coffee. The bitterness of the salt plays well against the sweetness of the chocolate or caramel and will leave you craving more. A little bit goes a long way here; start with a tiny amount and add more if you like it.