Salt Pig -- what's the point?
Saw a lovely salt pig at the store yesterday. While that one was $$ since it was from a french company, there are a bunch online in the $10-$15 range. Right now we just keep our kosher salt in a bowl on the counter for ease in cooking. What would be the advantage of the pig?
I don't think getting a fancy expensive salt pig is worth it, but as I have used both open ramekin/dishes and a cheap salt pig from Sur la Table ($10), I would definitely choose the salt pig. The fact it curves over the top and you reach in laterally means that a lot less 'stuff' falls in the salt. All it takes is one splatter on an open-dish salt container and you are dumping it out or picking things out. The salt pig has on a number of times (because of the curved top) shielded my salt from tomato sauce splatter or some other liquid -- in fact I have to wash the outside of the salt pig off every week or so and it is then that you notice what would have ended up in the salt had it just been an open vessel. Think about the times you are cooking and you have high heat grease splatter. You don't necessarily see those tiny droplets of grease, but that splatter is also going into your salt if it is nearby. Again, I used to not have one, but for $10 it is definitely worth it just so you have to worry less about salt contamination.
I have this model.
I have a Nigella Lawson one in baby blue and I adore it. It's pretty and it works a charm. I'm sure a nice bowl could do the same but I picked mine up on sale for abts US20 and never looked back. One of my favourite pieces in the kitchen!
OK, looking around there seem to be a few reasons people use salt pigs.
1. Ceramic interior keeps salt from clumping in steamy kitchens or humid climates
2. The large opening is an easy way to access salt while cooking ... either use a spoon or reach in and grab a pinch.
3. Keeps dust or other stuff from falling onto the salt. The side opening keeps debris from settling on an open bowl.
4. People think they are cute.
This seems to be the classic design and would accomplish all of the above, I guess
Most people seem to say that the opening resembles the snout of a pig & that's where the name came from. However an old Scottish definition of "pig" is a jar or pot made of earthenware.
Nigell'a design seems like it only marginally would keep the dust out. She seems to favor functionality (#2) and design (#4) ... and making a trough of money selling them.
These designs don't seem to keep the dust from drifting in either.
The James Herriot salt pig, how cute is that idea
If it is for humidity control, then there doesn't seem to be a point to a glass version
... and ok ... the most frequent comment ... check with your rabbi to see if it is kosher to put kosher salt in a pig ... sigh ... internet humor.
re: Sam Harmon
That may be true...but I just use a ceramic ramekin to hold my salt, glazed outside, unglazed unside. I've never had a problem with my salt clumping due to moisture, and I live in eastern Maryland, which gets it's fair share of humidity in the summer. I've never thought about it, but maybe it is the unglazed ceramic that does it. And here I was just using it because it was a good size and pretty color.