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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Salt-free Rubs and Grilling

“I’ve been watching cooking shows about barbecue. They are always using a rub on the meat. I’m not allowed to have much salt, and salt seems to be a main ingredient. Can you find me a rub recipe with no salt in it?” The warm days we’ve been having, and the smell of grilling in the evening has the Newton Falls Public Library staff thinking about what could be a healthy replacement for salt laden rubs. Rubs are mixes of spices which flavor, tenderize and cure the meat before it is grilled. Salt has long been used as a major ingredient in the preservation and seasoning of foods.

According to the online article How To Make Herb Grilling Rubs by Annette Gallagher
[] there are two types, the dry rub and the wet rub. The dry ones are mixtures “of herbs, spices and salt that are rubbed on foods. Sometimes they contain a little oil or have prepared mustard mixed in so that they are damp rather than truly dry. Wet rubs are a cross between a marinade and a dry rub and sometimes contain vinegar or other tenderizing agents.” Vinegar would be an excellent substitute to use in place of salt for tenderizing.

There is no shortage of cookbooks about grilling in the library. Beginning with what seems to be the largest of the books, The Barbecue! Bible by Steven Raichlen; we were able to find a few recipes that do not include salt as an ingredient, Herbes de provence (French); Israeli rub; Indian roasted spice powder; and Colombo powder (French West Indian) which contains an unusual ingredient, toasted rice. Weber's Big Book of Grilling by Jamie Purviance and Sandra S. McRae also has a Southwestern rub recipe to tempt those watching their salt intake.

In our Internet search, we discovered a plethora of recipes for our patron and an interesting alternative to rubs called Mediterranean salt roasting. With this method, the salt never penetrates the food and is a perfect hybrid of steaming and roasting, ensuring no loss of aroma and flavor. The Salt Institute [] instructs that “salt roasting combines the nutritional benefits of gentle steaming with the flavor-generating properties of roasting. When the food is encrusted in salt, the salt fuses together to form an almost impenetrable barrier sealing in moisture and flavor. In addition, the contact of the food with the fused salt ensures a dry heat roasting on the surface, in much the same way as conventional roasting, except that the flavor is completely sealed in the salt casing.”

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