Introduction: Table Salt Cones

Here is a different way to serve salt to your guests with their meal.
Each guest has a small dish with a delicate cone of slightly hardened salt by their plate. When they want some salt, they pinch some off the cone and rub it between their fingers, sprinkling it on their food.
I've experienced this at several of the nicer restaurants in San Francisco, and wanted to try it for myself. Here are the results of my experiments.

Step 1: Materials

You will need:
a cup of Kosher salt - you should use a salt with course grains, but not too heavy
water
CLEAN paper - this will be in contact with one of your condiments
tape - to hold the paper in a cone shape
cups, spoons for mixing and holding
a microwave - to dry these out

Step 2: Make a Paper Cone

Take a piece of CLEAN paper. (remember, this is food prep work you're doing here) I used a sheet of 3" x 3" notepad (ripped out of the middle of the stack). Put a piece of tape along one edge and roll it into a long cone. Try to keep the pointy end of the cone closed.

Step 3: Wet the Salt

Fill a small cup about 3/4 full of the Kosher salt. Very slowly add a little clean water at time, while mixing throughly with a fork or spoon. You do not want the salt to dissolve (if it does it turns into a cement like substance after cooking).
When the salt begins to look like big fluffy snow flakes you should have enough moisture added.
You may want to experiment with how much moisture you want before making a table full of these. Too little moisture and your cone will fall apart or be too delicate to move, too much and it will turn to stone.

Step 4: Pack the Cone and Cook

Pack the wet salt into the cone firmly with your spoon. Try to make the bottom as flat as possible, You will want them to stand on the one end when they're done.
Stand your cones up in a cup and put them in the microwave for as long as you cook popcorn (2-3 min). This should dry all the moisture out of the salt.

Step 5: Unwrap Your Cone and Serve

Be careful when you pull these out of the microwave, they will be hot. Carefully unwrap the paper from your cone. scrape the bottom (the wide end) flat so that it will stand up straight.
Please each cone on a small flat bottomed dish or plate and serve to your guests.

Comments

author
nerdmom920 (author)2010-11-03

This is awesome. I am researching handmade gifts to give for Christmas and a small box full of these would be perfect!

author
GorillazMiko (author)2007-11-21

imagine eating it all, that would be so nasty and weird in your mouth!

author
martian742 (author)GorillazMiko2008-03-17

Average lethal dose for adult person is 100g. So don't kill yourself.

author

There's a lethal dose for salt?

author
sleepydog (author)natethegreat882009-07-31

As far as ingestion, the rat LD-50 dose for sodium chloride is 3 grams per kilogram of body weight. ("LD-50" stands for "lethal dose 50%", the dose which kills 50% of rats.) For a 220 pound man (100 kg) that would be 300 grams, which is just shy of 12 ounces. The lowest published lethal dose (LDlo) for humans is one third of that.

author
natethegreat88 (author)sleepydog2009-07-31

That's kinda scary that something like table salt could kill with 100g.

author
red-king (author)natethegreat882009-10-12

 think about it though. who's going to sit down and eat 200g of salt?

author
natethegreat88 (author)red-king2009-10-13

True, but thats weird that something you use about everyday could kill you. But then theres also a bunch of other stuff that could kill me, that i do everyday.

author
red-king (author)natethegreat882009-10-19

 theres lots of things that could kill you... anything could really... it's almost amazing that a lot of people don't die from some things...

author
wupme (author)natethegreat882009-08-01

There's a lethal dose for everything, even for sugar or water.

author
Thoth (author)2009-08-06

Parchment paper might work better than notebook paper and is made to be cooked with so it will not have any potentially distasteful or even possibly harmful chemicals found in notebook paper like bleaching agents, dyes etc.

author
sleepydog (author)Thoth2009-08-06

Yikes! Thank you for mentioning this. I hadn't thought of that.

author
TangMu (author)2007-11-22

Would it be possible to make a sugar varient of this? It would make an interesting alternative to sugar cubes. The browner sugars have atendancy to have a larger grain size and so would have the same texture perhaps... I'm just a little worried what microwaving the sugar would do... perhaps a warm oven might be safer and more gradual.

author
Mama B (author)TangMu2009-02-09

If I remember correctly, the old Easy Bake Oven kits used to come with sugar molds for making old-fashioned cake decorations. They were just hard plastic shapes, but you could easily use chocolate molds you can find anywhere. To make the sugar mixture, just add a few drops of water at a time to sugar (can also add color, but it came out pretty mottled), mixing in just enough to squeeze some in your hand and it will firmly hold its shape. It should be similar to damp sand you find at the beach. Anyway, I think you had to spray with a very thin coating of non-stick spray before packing in the sugar mixture tightly. Gently release sugar shapes from mold onto a baking sheet. Dry (not bake) sugar in barely warm oven (200-250 degrees F) with the door slightly ajar until thoroughly dehydrated. Of course, you could also do this in a dehydrator of you have one. These will store virtually indefinitely if kept in a completely air-tight container away from moisture.

author
sleepydog (author)TangMu2007-11-22

I was wondering the same thing, since the salt looks so edible. I started experimenting this afternoon, and have a cautionary warning: Do NOT try this with brown sugar. When you microwave brown sugar the sugar caramelizes and turns into a liquid, If you moisten the brown sugar, it will foam up, making a much bigger, harder to clean mess for the reader.
White sugar can be very lightly moistened and hardened like salt, getting the right moisture content seems little more difficult than with salt.
Here is a recipe for Mexican Sugar Skulls, they use 1 teaspoon water per cup of sugar and 1 teaspoon Meringue Powder. http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/mexicansugarskull/recipe.htm

author
jongscx (author)sleepydog2007-11-27

With brown sugar, you should probably just pack it into the cone and not cook it. Sugar has a lot of water in it already, especially brown sugar. Heating it (as you already mentioned) caramelizes it. I guess if you wanted to, you could lightly use a blowtorch to make a hard shell on the outside... maybe.

author
TangMu (author)sleepydog2007-11-23

Oooh they look fun. would be great for a grim fandango themed night. Balloon puppetry ahoy!!

author
Full Frontal Graphic (author)2008-03-21

Way cool way to present the salt. Classy and dramatic Easy to see how much salt you actually use, not like some unfamiliar salt shaker.

author
!Andrew_Modder! (author)2007-11-22

lol ok

author
Quiznak (author)2007-11-22

If you were making several of these a test tube rack might be a good way to hold them in the microwave (obviously not a metal rack).

author
sleepydog (author)Quiznak2007-11-22

Thats a good idea. I was looking for something similar around my kitchen, thinking I needed to hold them as upright as possible, but the damp salt will stay put, even if they're laying at an angle. I was able to fit 4 to 5 of these in a coffee cup.

author
Ushanka (author)2007-11-21

Can you take the excess unused salt and reuse it in more cones?

author
sleepydog (author)Ushanka2007-11-21

Yes you can, as long as the salt can be returned to it's granular form before damping it again. If you get the salt too wet it hardens like a rock. From a cleanliness perspective, I would be concerned how much handling any food items receive before being put on the plate.

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