Ingredient of the Week: Himalayan Pink Mineral Salt

What is it? Mined from the base of the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan, this prized rock salt ranges in color from light beige to deeper reds, depending on the mineral content. The more minerals the salt contains, the deeper the color.

Formed more than a quarter billion years ago during the Jurassic era, this salt is thought to have healing properties in addition to its culinary uses. It's also been used in bathwater for detox purposes. Whether it's clever marketing or an ancient holistic form of medicine or both, I've seen claims that pink salt can do anything from help your body absorb nutrients to help relieve symptoms of fever or herpes and other illnesses.

Pink salt is also harvested by hand, hand-crushed, hand-washed and dried in the sun before packaging and shipping.

How is it used? This salt is used as much in flavoring foods as it is in spa treatments and baths whose enthusiasts claim that the 84 trace minerals found in the salt provide health benefits (minus the fact that if you eat too much, you'll have high blood pressure). Large blocks of the salt are also used to cook and quick-cure food.

Where can I buy it? For flavoring food, you can buy small containers at Spec's on Smith as well as Central Market. Spec's will also be offering a Peruvian version of pink mineral salt in the near future, which will likely be less expensive.

Recipe: Chocolate Truffles with Pink Salt: Courtesy of Whole Foods Market

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Amber Ambrose