Friday, 20 November 2009

Readily salted

Did you hear that in the news? That ready-made pasta sauces generally contain a huge amount of salt? That some of St Jamie Oliver's are among the worst? That leading brands contain - on average - 25% more salt than supermarket substitutes? And that - in the worst cases - sauces are as salty as the same amount of seawater?

This is very bad news chez Bringing up Charlie. We eat a lot of pasta. And - although I lay claim to the status of domestic god (you should see me with a vacuum cleaner!) - I'm a polytheist as far as pasta sauces are concerned. They're for the gods of pasta sauce to make. You know, like Oliver, Grosssman, and the like. Lesser gods, maybe. (Let's drink a toast to the Almighty Floyd!) But we all have our niche here in the Valhalla of the kitchen.

I had a quick look in our cupboards. Armed with my trusty FSA Salt App of Righteousness I found this in our kitchen cupboards: a jar of Lloyd Grossman's curry sauce, with  0.5g sodium per 100g. That's ok; it's classed as 'medium'. Next, a Heinz Moroccan spicy paste is also ranked as 'medium' while the Chinese Sweet Chilli and Garlic sauce is impossible to assess as the ingredients seem to be in Swedish. Oh, and I seem to be out of pesto.

Apparently 80% of our salt-intake comes courtesy of the food industry (rather than our own cooking) and even a slight reduction in our intake could reduce strokes and heart attacks deaths by as much as 20,000 a year. There are tasty alternatives to using salt, too. The iPhone app has a a range of tips, such as using black pepper as seasoning instead of salt. The application's free and portable, so you can take it with you and compare the labels as you do the shopping. That is, if the jars you're buying have them. Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH) who did the sauces survey found that over 70 of the 190 products tested contained no salt or sodium data whatsoever.

As for me, there's only one thing for it. Jamie Oliver's been sacked; Lloyd Grossman is demoted. From now on I intend to be my own sous chef, and make sauces of my own. I've got a blender; there's a twice-weekly market overflowing with fresh produce; and I've got a little pot plant growing chilli peppers. Now all I need is some recipes. Any offers?
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