Handmade Sea Salt Markers

October 24, 2014
Bethany Degg
The Column

Volume 10, Issue 19

A new study to be published in the journal Food Chemistry proposes 10 compounds that could be used to determine the authenticity of handmade sea salt opposed to industrial sea salt.

A new study to be published in the journal Food Chemistry proposes 10 compounds that could be used to determine the authenticity of handmade sea salt opposed to industrial sea salt.1

Sea salt is a handmade food product that is formed by the evaporation of sea water in salt pans. Prior to evaporation, the sea water passes through ponds of increasing salinity incorporating volatile compounds from the environment. According to Sílva M. Rocha, corresponding author of the paper, there is a growing interest to protect handmade sea salt because it is a highly valued product. She told The Column: “Volatile components present in sea salt could play an important role in differentiating this handmade food product from industrial salt, and valuing sea
salt as a distinct and desirable product.”

The authors collected samples from seven locations around the north-east Atlantic Ocean, including France, Portugal, Spain, Canary Islands, and Cape Verde. The samples were then analyzed by headspace solid-phase microextraction coupled with comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography to identify 32–71 compounds per salt, of which 10 compounds were found in all samples. Sílva told The Column: “Our study shows that volatile markers of sea salt could play an important role in the definition of this handmade food product, and so add to the value of sea salt as a distinct and desirable product. A more extensive study should be conducted including samples collected across the world’s oceans.” — B.D.

Reference
1. Isabel Silva et al., Food Chemistry169, 102–113 (2015).

This story originally appeared in The Column. Click here to view that issue.