Looking for a way to reduce my salt intake – my current heart meds won’t allow me to use the usual suspects, like LoSalt, as the buggerdly things concentrate potassium to toxic levels**, and LoSalt is two-thirds potassium chloride – I had a flash of inspiration.
**Update, June 19, 2012: As things turned out, they don’t. What I have is one drug that allegedly concentrates potassium, versus 4 drugs which I know cause potassium depletion, leaving me dangerously short, and my heart would clatter along like a broken sludge-pump. Reintroducing potassium – I’ve covered it in detail elsewhere – at 100mg a day stabilises my heart very nicely.
Towards the end of last year, I bought some dried vegetables, which didn’t work out too well in the state in which they came. However, reduced to a powder, and used as flavouring agents, they’re proving to be remarkably versatile, adding flavour without the additional salt of a stock cube.
So where’s the inspiration, I hear you ask? Well, a couple of days ago, I fell to wondering if there was any way to use vegetable powders uncooked, so I mixed more or less equal quantities of onion powder (bought), and tomato powder (home-made), with some Clover, to see what would happen.
Initially, the texture was quite gritty, but as Clover has a little water in its make-up (quite possibly a lot of water – they don’t say how much), I let it sit in the fridge for 24 hours, for the powders to soften and the flavours to snuggle up to each other. And it worked out brilliantly.
The spread is intensely savoury, but not so much that it would swamp the contents of a sandwich – and you’d swear it was salty, but there’s not a scintilla of added salt.
The onion dominates, which is easily fixed – this was, after all, just an experiment** to see if the principle worked, which it does, and it tastes pretty damn good just spread on bread. I think it would be amazing on toast (I like Oxo crumbled onto hot, buttered (well, Clovered), toast – this will be far better for me.
** I think one part onion powder to two parts tomato is probably a good place to start, rather than the roughly equal quantities that I used. And other vegetable powders are available too – spinach, beetroot, and horseradish – as well as a about a dozen fruit powders.
I also have a mixed vegetable powder that I made myself from the dehydrated veg – leeks and a variety of root vegetables mainly – which is a little too coarse to use as is, but zapping some in the coffee mill I use for this, I can probably get it fine enough to try.
In addition, I’d like to try the powders, mixed 50-50 with sea salt (to which end I’ve ordered some tomato powder, which is finer than my own), and used as a seasoning to reduce the amount of salt. I’ve not tried it yet, but I think the idea has legs.
For those of you less inclined than me to tinker in the kitchen you can buy tomato powder here and onion powder here. Delivery is pretty fast. A variety of dried vegetables can be had here but be aware that this company is somewhat eccentric, and won’t even be looking at your order for about 5 days (chronically understaffed would be my guess), and the Mixed Vegetables are rather dominated by the coarser green parts of leeks.
I watched Rick Stein putting together a leek-based dish last night on TV, and sure enough, it was almost entirely the coarse green leaves, and if you buy pork and leek sausages, you’ll get them there, too. The company that supplies the powders also sells dried leeks and, yep, it’s the green bits – so where the bloody hell do all the white parts get to? I can buy leeks with a normal ratio of white to green, I’m damn sure that Stein can too, and I’m sorry, but if I was served that dish, with over 90% coarse, green, leaves, it would be sent back.
The paler green parts of leeks are perfectly edible, the coarse, green tops, while edible in the sense that they won’t harm you, leave a hell of a lot to be desired as a foodstuff, though they are OK when added to , say, a joint of brisket or other meat just to flavour the stock, not to be eaten – I just don’t want to see them on the plate.
A caveat – when mixing powders with Clover, or your favourite spread – most seem to have this problem – don’t allow it to come up to room temperature because, when it’s refrigerated again, it’ll go rock hard. If that happens, it can be rescued by allowing it to just come back to room temperature, whisking the bejesus out of it, and putting it back in the fridge.
And another: Mixing these vegetable powders with spreads will probably reduce their shelf life, so it’s probably best made in small batches.