In 2013, I began the hunt for salt substitutes as part of the salt management strategy for my kitchen.
My initial research made me aware of a few things.
- There are substitute products, and substitute techniques;
- Some salt substitute products / techniques approach the “substitute” angle by trying to replicate the taste and chemistry of salt; others approach it from the angle of not even trying that, but rather of providing enough other powerful flavours so as you don’t notice the missing salt flavour;
- Some salt substitute products draw on potassium as an ingredient. Potassium occurs naturally and bountifully in items such as squash, banana, etc, but some doctors may not want their patients taking any additional sources of potassium so if you have any medical issues it can be best to check first;
- Some people feel that some salt substitute products can have a bitter taste to them;
- Many of the salt substitute products advise never to taste the products on their own, but always on or in food; that the products need food to react with for the right taste to come about.
I also knew that there are some cooking uses for salt — such as in baking and in preserves, where it’s a question of chemistry, not taste — for which a simple salt substitute product would not cut the mustard because in matters of chemistry, it’s not so easy to fool Mother Nature.
AlsoSalt: The salt substitute that you need a substitute for
One salt substitute product that got good reviews for taste was one called AlsoSalt made in Washington State. Heinz uses AlsoSalt in their salt free ketchup for the American market. So, I found the AlsoSalt website and placed my order and paid. It took me six months to get my product, during which they repeatedly actually and literally lied to me about having already shipped it. Later, I belatedly Googled them for customer service reviews and found out that I was lucky; many people never even get their product and just give up entirely, their track record is just that shocking, with pages of Better Business Bureau Complaints about them. So I’m going to take the odd step here of actually formally warning any readers against buying from that company.
Anyway, the AlsoSalt product finally arrived so I could test it out. . It has a powdery texture and is very white. I will say it is fine, and I have no complaints about the product. But with just everyone having so many problems buying from them it’s just not a product I want to rely on and get used to using, so that’s out. If this were your go-to salt substitute, you’d need a substitute for it! Ha!
Herbamare to the rescue
During the six months that I was innocently and trustingly waiting for my AlsoSalt to arrive “any day now”, I found Herbamare in two health food stores here and gave it a try. Note: Herbamare makes several flavoured seasoning salts and a low-sodium seasoning; it’s the sodium-free (completely sodium-free) seasoning that we’re talking about here.
In short, it’s great, and even better (and way cheaper) than the AlsoSalt turned out to be. It has a texture like very fine grained sand. It has a sharpness to its taste that lets it perform the role of salt for taste in recipes. Use it in the same quantities as you would salt. If you’d use a teaspoon of salt in a tomato sauce you’re making, use the same amount of Herbamare. I use it sometimes even on food, such as French fries, and popcorn, and don’t detect any bitterness, even when I’m running my fingers in the popcorn bowl to get the last of the “salt” out.
Oh, and note that just like salt, if you have a cut somewhere on your fingers and get this on it, it will sting just like salt.
So Herbamare now is my go-to salt substitute. It’s made by the A. Vogel company in Switzerland — and long may they make it. I highly recommend this product. Note that they also make a low-sodium product, but I am not talking about that one; I am talking about their completely sodium-free product, which in some store ads may be described as “no sodium.”
Herbamare Sodium-Free Nutrition
Herbamare Sodium-Free is also kosher, gluten-free and made from all-organic products.
Note that it’s high in potassium, if your doctor said to also avoid potassium.
Where to buy Herbamare Sodium-Free
In stores, I pay anywhere from 4 to 6 dollars per 90 g (3.2 oz) canister of Herbamare Sodium Free, depending on the store, sales, etc. A bottle seems to last me a few months. If you can’t find it where you are, here it is on Amazon. (In the States, the picture and labelling are not great on Amazon, but it’s the sodium-free one apparently.)