Zigong Well Salt for Pickling (Set of 2)
Mala Market exclusive
The key ingredient for a pickling brine is salt, and while kosher salt or any iodide-free salt will work for fermentation, serious Sichuan picklers will use nothing but their local Zigong well salt.
This legendary salt comes from brine deep under the ground in Zigong, Sichuan, site of the world’s very first brine wells, drilled in 252 B.C.! (Mark Kurlansky's fascinating book "Salt: A World History" spends a lot of pages on Zigong and its revolutionary well drilling.) While the original wells are no longer open (other than one historical demonstration well), this refined salt is still made by drilling for underground brine in Zigong. In fact, Zigong's deep drilling and well-salt production techniques are one of the few foods in China recognized as National Intangible Cultural Heritage.
For literally millennia, Sichuan cooks have sworn by this salt, for its taste, purity, nutrients and, in the modern era, its lack of added iodide and anti-caking agents, which they feel ruins the taste of salt and the food it’s used in. Especially for pickling, where iodide can kill fermentation, serious cooks insist on this Sichuan salt.
And old-timers will also tell you the coarser the salt the better. According to Juida, the 100-year-old manufacturer, the extra-large grains—actually small pellets—of this pickling salt allow a sustained release that penetrates vegetables more efficiently and results in a brighter color, crispier pickle and less spoilage.
Package instructions call for dissolving the salt in boiled water to make the initial brine, but simply adding the pellets directly to the jar when needed for topping up and maintaining future batches.
For more guidance see our Ultimate Guide to Making Sichuan Pickles.
Note that we sell this salt in a set of two bags.
Source: Jiuda Salt Manufacturing Co, Zigong, Sichuan
Size: 1.5 pounds/700 grams (two bags, each one 12.3 ounces/350 grams)
Ingredients: pure salt, with no added iodide or anti-caking agents