In ancient times, salt is said to have been more precious than gold. People carried their salt (and sometimes oil and flour) around with them for safe keeping. These days it’s safe enough to keep your salt out in the open — and the owner of the newest shop on Shab Row, Kerry Cummings, suggests you do so in a vessel called a salt pig. A Salt Pig also happens to be the name of her shop, dedicated to bringing gourmet salts to Frederick County.
Cummings has 50 varieties of salt available for sale, as well as five kinds of peppercorns and 80 different hot sauces. The latter was the idea of Cummings’ State Farm agent. The shop also sells everything you need to serve salt and pepper — grinders, mortars and pestles — and the shop’s signature salt pigs, which are made by local artisan Sherrie Booth, of Silver Spring.
Why a salt pig? It’s actually a Scottish term for a clay vessel used to hold salt, and Cummings just played a bit with the concept. If you pick up one of the kitchen helpers for yourself, Cummings does advise that only everyday cooking salts should be stored in a pig. Flavored or smoked salts could flavor the clay.
Cummings found her inspiration for this unique shop while on a trip in Savannah about a year and a half ago. She came across a store called The Salt Shop and knew that Frederick could support a similar concept. She said it’s been “an interesting ride” in the year since she first filed her LLC.
The foodie in me couldn’t wait to pick her brain about all the different uses for her salts. Some of her most popular flavors are the merlot (yes, wine!), roasted garlic, lime fresco and applewood. Some of the most unique salts, according to Cummings, are the maple salt (she mentioned it would be great on popcorn), the espresso salt (hello, chocolate baked goods) and the kala namak. Kala namak, also known as Indian Black, is a salt from India that is very dark gray before it is ground up. It is used extensively in Indian and Pakistani cooking and has a very high concentration of sulfur which Cummings said makes the salt taste and smell just like a deviled egg.
Most of the cooking salts are $6 per jar and the flavored/smoked varieties ring in at $8. There is a selection of ultimate gourmet salts that includes some kinds of truffle salt that cost $18, but keep in mind that a little goes a long way with those flavors. If you want to get a good taste of any salts before fully committing, there are test tube sized containers available that range from $3 to $6.
Cummings is very interested in trying “to expand people’s ideas of how they can use the salts” and she finds it “exciting that people are learning to think about expanding their palate.”
Editor’s Note: Sarah Withers is the owner of Taste Frederick Food Tours, the most delicious way to take a tour of downtown Frederick. She enjoys eating her way through Frederick County and you can find her tweeting and instagramming about her Frederick dining adventures at @tastefrederick.