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The properties of common salt are such as to render it an article of the greatest importance in the preparation of food, and in the preservation of health. If salt be withheld for any length of time, diseases of the stomach become general, and worms are gendered in the bowels, which are removed with great difficulty.

In Ireland, salt is a well-known common remedy for bots in the horse; and among the poor people, a dose of common salt is esteemed a sufficient cure for the worms. It is supposed by some medical men, that salt furnishes soda to be mixed with the bile: without this necessary addition, the bile would be deprived of the qualities necessary to assist in the operation of digestion. One of the greatest grievances of which the poor man can complain is the want of salt. 

Many of the insurrections and commotions among the Hindoos, have been occasioned by the cruel and unjust monopolies of certain unworthy servants of the East India Company, who to aggrandize their own fortunes have oftentimes bought up, on speculation, all the salt in the different ports and markets, and thus have deprived the ingenious but wretched natives of their only remaining comfort, salt being the only addition they are usually enabled to make to their poor pittance of rice. Many of the poor in England, previously to the late reduction especially, have loudly lamented the high price of salt, which thousands are in the habit of using as the only seasoning to their meal of potatoes. Salt is also of the greatest use in agriculture. From one to two bushels makes fine manure for an acre of land, varied according to the quality of the soil. This answers better than almost any other compost. 

The Chinese have for ages been accustomed to manure their fields by sprinkling them with sea water. The Persians sprinkle the timber of their buildings with salt, to prevent them from rotting. It is used in Abyssinia instead of money, where it passes from hand to hand, under the shape of a brick, worth about eighteen pence. In feeding of cattle, it is also found to be highly beneficial. A nobleman who purchased two hundred Merino sheep in Spain, attributes the health of his flock principally to the constant use of salt. These sheep having been accustomed to that article in their native land, it was thought necessary to supply them with it, especially in this damp climate, and in the rich pastures of some parts of this country. A ton of salt is used annually for every thousand sheep: a handful is put in the morning on a flat stone or slate, ten of which, set a few yards apart, are sufficient for a hundred sheep. This quantity is given twice a week. Out of a flock of nearly a thousand, there were not ten old sheep that did not readily take it, and not a single lamb which did not consume it greedily. Salt is likewise a preventive of disorders in stock fed with rank green food, as clover or turnips, and it is deemed a specific for the rot. Horses and horned cattle are also very fond of salt: the cow gives more milk, and richer in quality, when salt is mixed with her food. The wild beasts of the American forests leave their haunts at certain seasons, and travel in company to various places where salt is to be found. 

There they lick the ground on which the salt lies, or which is strongly impregnated by it. Cattle fed on grass which grows on the sea shore, are always fatter and in better condition, than those which graze on in land-pastures. Considering its various uses in agriculture, as an article of food, and as a preservative from putrefaction, salt may be pronounced one of the most generally useful and necessary of all the minerals; and it is truly lamentable, that in almost all ages and countries, particularly in those where despotism prevails, this should be one of those necessaries of life, on which the most heavy taxes are imposed. Bay salt is a kind of brownish impure salt, obtained in France, Italy, and other countries, by evaporating sea water in pits. 

The principal part of bay salt sold in this country is however of home manufacture, being a coarse grained crystallized salt, made dirty by powdered Turkey umber, or some such coloring material, to give it the appearance of a foreign article. The only utility which this salt appears to possess, beyond that of the common fine-grained salt usually found in the shops, is that it dissolves more slowly by moisture, and therefore is better calculated for salting of fish, and other animal substances, which cannot be wholly covered with brine. Basket salt is made from the water of the salt springs in Cheshire and other places. It differs from the common brine salt in the fineness of the grain, as well as on account of its whiteness and purity. It is principally used at table.


Great attention is requisite in salting meat; and in the country, where large quantities are often cured, this is of particular importance. Beef and pork should be well sprinkled, and a few hours afterwards hung to drain, before it is rubbed with the salt. This method, by cleansing the meat from the blood, serves to keep it from tasting strong. It should be turned every day; and if wanted soon, it should be rubbed daily. A salting tub or lead may be used, and a cover to fit close. Those who use a good deal of salt meat will find it answer well to boil up the pickle, and skim it clean; and when cold, pour it over meat that has been sprinkled and drained.

To salt beef red, which is extremely good to eat fresh from the pickle, or to hang to dry, choose a piece of the flank, or any part that has but little bone. Sprinkle it, and let it drain a day. Then rub it with common salt, bay salt, and a small proportion of saltpeter, all in fine powder. A few grains of cochineal may be added. Rub the pickle into the meat every day for a week, and afterwards turning it only will be sufficient. It will be excellent in about eight days; and in sixteen days it may be drained from the pickle. Smoke it at the mouth of the oven, when heated with wood, or send it to the baker's; a few days will be sufficient to smoke it. A little of the coarsest sugar added to the salt, will be an improvement. Red beef boiled tender, eats well with greens or carrots. If it is to be grated as Dutch beef, then cut a lean bit, boil it extremely tender, and put it hot under a press. When cold fold it in a sheet of paper, and it will keep in a dry place two or three months, ready for serving on bread and butter.

If a piece of beef is to be prepared for eating immediately, it should not weigh more than five or six pounds. Salt it thoroughly before it is to be put into the pot, take a coarse cloth, flour it well, put the meat into it, and fold it up close. Put it into a pot of boiling water, and boil it as another piece of salt meat of the same size, and it will be as salt as if it had been in pickle four or five days.


Soak and clean the piece intended to be dressed, and lay it all night in water, with a glass of vinegar. Boil it enough, then break it into flakes on the dish; pour over it parsnips boiled, beaten in a mortar, and boiled up with cream. Add to it a large piece of butter, rubbed in a little flour. Egg sauce may be sent up instead, or the parsnip root whole. The fish may also be boiled without flaking, and served with either of the sauces as above.


Backlio, old ling, and tusk, are reckoned the best salt fish. Old ling and backlio, must be laid in water for ten or twelve hours, then taken out, and scaled very clean; wash the fish, and let it lay out of water till you want to use it; if it is the next day, it will be the better. When you dress it, put it into cold water, and let it do as gently as possible; let it be boiled so tender, that you may put a fork into any part of it without sticking, then it is enough. Lay a clean napkin over your dish, take up the fish, lay it upon the napkin, and throw the corners over each other. Send it to table with egg sauce in a basin, parsnips sliced, and butter and mustard in a boat.


Soak and boil some good barrel cod, till about three parts done. Divide it into flakes, put them into a saucepan with some cream, a little pepper, and a handful of parsley scalded and chopped. Stew it gently till tender, thicken the sauce with two or three yolks of eggs, and serve it up.


Boil a side of salt fish as you would for eating; cut a square bit out of the middle, about the bigness of your hand; take the skin off the other, and take out all the bones; mince this very small with six eggs boiled hard; season it with pepper, nutmeg, and beaten mace, then slice the crumb of French rolls thin into a pan, pour over it a quart of boiling milk, and let it stand to soak; in the mean time, make a good puff paste, and sheet the dish all over; have in readiness the quantity of two spoonfuls of parsley shred very fine, beat the bread well together, then put in the fish and eggs, and chopped parsley; stir all well together; melt about three quarters of a pound of butter, and stir it into the ingredients, with a gill of Mountain; pour this into the dish, lay the square piece of fish in the middle; lay on the lid, and bake it an hour, or a little more.

You may make ling, or stock-fish pie in this manner; but you are to observe, that all the skin is to be taken off, and not to put a piece whole into the pie, according to this receipt; but mince all the fish with the yolks of hard eggs, leaving out the whites, and adding a large spoonful of made mustard when you stir the ingredients together, before you put them into the pie.


To a hundred weight of pork or beef, take ten pounds of common salt, and half a pound of saltpetre. Let the meat be well cleaned from those particles of blood which hang about it when cut into four pound pieces: this is best done by washing it in salt and water, or brine that has been used, provided it be sweet. Lay the meat in rows, and rub the upper side moderately with salt; then place another layer of meat, and repeat the operation as on the first layer. In this manner continue the same proportion of salt and saltpetre, till the whole quantity is heaped up in a tub, or some other vessel, not of lead, in order to preserve the pickle from issuing from it. In this state it must remain for three days, then turn it into another tub, sprinkling it with salt in the act of turning the meat. When all is turned and salted, let the pickle procured by the first salting, be slowly poured about the meat. In this state let it remain for a week, and it will be excellent for home use. If wanted for exportation, pack it in this state into casks. But as the greatest care is required for its preservation, when sent abroad, a layer of salt must first be put into the barrel, and then a layer of meat, till the cask is full, taking care to use the hand only in packing in the pieces. When the barrel is headed, the pickle must be filtered through a coarse cloth; and when perfectly fine, fill up the cask with the pickle to the bung hole. Let it remain in this state till the next day, in order to ascertain whether the cask be quite tight, and then bung it up. Beef or pork cured in this manner will not fail to keep any reasonable length of time. The too great rubbing of meat will not keep it the better, it frequently retards the operation of the salt by filling the outward pores of the meat only to the destruction of the middle of the piece, which frequently perishes.


After the butter is well worked up and cleared from the milk, it is ready for salting. The tub in which it is to be preserved being perfectly clean, should be rubbed in the whole inside with common salt; and a little melted butter should be poured into the cavity between the bottom and the sides, before the butter is put in. Although common salt is generally employed on this occasion, yet the following composition not only preserves the butter more effectually from taint, but also makes it look better, taste sweeter, richer, and more marrowy, than if it had been cured with common salt only. Take of best common salt two parts, saltpetre one part, lump sugar one part, and beat them up together in a mortar, so that they may be completely blended. 

To every pound of butter, add one ounce of this composition: mix it well in the mass, and close it up for use. 

Butter prepared in this manner will keep good for three years, and cannot be distinguished from that which is recently salted; but it does not taste well till it has stood a fortnight or three weeks. To preserve butter for winter use, take some that is fresh and good in the month of August or September, and put it into an unglazed jar, in layers about two inches thick, till the jar is full, within three inches of the top. Make a strong brine of salt and water, boil and skim it; and when it is quite cold, pour a sufficient quantity over the butter, so that the brine may be an inch deep. Tie paper over it, and set it in a cool place. When wanted for use, cut it no deeper than the first layer till that is all used. Then cut the second in the same manner, and so on to the bottom of the tub or jar. By this means there will be no more than a part of one layer that is not covered with the brine. 

To make it eat like fresh butter, dip each piece into water when it is cut out of the jar; or work it over again in fresh buttermilk or milk, and make it into shapes like fresh butter. It will eat much better with toast, than most of the fresh butter that is made in winter. It is a false idea, that butter, to be preserved for winter use, requires a greater quantity of salt: experience has proved the contrary. Butter salted in the common way, and put in pots with brine over the top, retains its flavour, and is better preserved than by an additional quantity of salt. One more observation on the preservation of butter is necessary. It is universally allowed that cleanliness is indispensable, but it is not generally suspected, that butter from being made in vessels or troughs lined with lead, or in glazed earthenware pans, which glaze is principally composed of lead, is too apt to be contaminated by particles of that deleterious metal. If the butter is in the least degree rancid, this can hardly fail to take place, and it cannot be doubted, that during the decomposition of the salts, the glazing is acted on. It is better therefore to use tinned vessels for mixing the preservative with the butter, and to pack it either in wooden vessels, or in jars of the Vauxhall ware, which being vitrified throughout, do not require an inside glazing.