Who Needs Salt?

Yeast extracts, improved potassium chloride, even spices can provide the flavor enhancement once are unique to salt.

By Aníbal Concha-Meyer, Contributing Editor

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Healthy Choice Low Sodium
ConAgra Foods Inc.'s "Healthy Choice" line of frozen dinners makes use of stronger flavors from herbs and citrus to allow for lowered sodium.

Different peppers offer different spicy, sweet and salty flavors, behind any heat content that might be present, he says. Any "wet" formulation with a cooking time of 20 minutes or more (to allow for pepper reconstitution and flavor release), such as soups, stews, chilies and sauces, is a candidate for smoke-dried peppers.

Mineral blends

Morton Salt Inc. (www.mortonsalt.com), Chicago, has explored sodium reduction solutions for more than 40 years. "Over the years, we've learned that a standard strategy — coupled with sodium alternatives such as the potassium chloride family of ingredients — can provide a roadmap for sodium-reduction success," says Denise Lauer, Morton's director of communications.

The company offers a high-purity potassium chloride, KaliSel. It is a fine-particle-sized product already widely used by the food industry as a partial replacement for salt, replacing up to 33 percent of NaCl in many processed foods without affecting consumer taste acceptance.

KaliSel also functions as a taste enhancer, processing agent, stabilizer, gelling agent or preservative. It is used in the production of a broad range of products including meats, soups, sauces, snacks, dairy, prepared meals, sides, bread and baked goods.

By partially substituting sodium chloride with other mineral salts, food manufacturers can reduce sodium in a cost-effective manner while offering products that deliver the added benefit of potassium, an essential nutrient, or other minerals used.

Other sodium-reduction solutions take advantage of surface area of crystal sizes, in some cases combining different ones for contrast on the palate. Morton Lite Salt Mixture is a 50/50 blend of sodium chloride and potassium chloride with a variety of salt-particle sizes and bulk densities for seasoning blends and topical applications such as snacks.

KCLean Salt is a sodium chloride with potassium chloride offered by Wixon Inc. (www.wixon.com), St. Francis, Wis. It includes a proprietary ingredient to mask bitter metallic aftertastes while delivering the salty taste desired in formulations. The company also offers Wix-Fresh Reduced Sodium System, a flavor modifier and sodium replacer specifically designed for the meat and poultry industry. This product can generate up to 50-percent reduction in sodium in dry and concentrated applications, such as rubs, marinades, injection systems and seasoning blends.

Sodium reduction remains one of the toughest challenges for the food industry today as manufacturers continue to explore solutions that can deliver on core requirements such as taste, nutrition, functionality and value.

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