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Posted by on Jan 31, 2011 in Korean Culture, Korean Food | 3 comments

Science backs health boasts about Korean bamboo salt

Korean bamboo salt

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(죽염 jukyeom) has been part of Korea’s culinary and medicinal tradition for more than 1,000 years. It’s commonly used in facial cleansers, acne treatments and toothpastes as well as consumed in health tonics and sprinkled on food.

Scientists recently confirmed the health benefits of what’s commonly called purple bamboo salt, named for the color imparted after several times through the preparation process.

Researchers from Kyung Hee University’s College of Oriental Medicine had a study published in a 2003 edition of the Journal of Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology on the correlation between consumption of the special salt and changes in inflammation.

“Our results suggest that purple bamboo salt importantly contributes to the prevention or treatment of inflammatory diseases.”

A Konkuk University study published in Meat Science magazine found that purple bamboo salt also may be a better flavor enhancer than pure sodium chloride salt. The researchers also found that bamboo salt has a higher pH than regular salt and high levels of potassium, calcium, and alkali minerals.

That seems to lend scientific credence to more than an eon of Buddhist monastic medicine on the healthful advantage of bamboo salt over regular sea salt and refined sodium chloride salt.

The monks who developed the salt started with salt collected from Korea’s coastline. They poured the salt into sections of bamboo trunks, sealed the ends with yellow clay and baked the bamboo-encased salt in fires stoked with pine needles and pine lumber. The salt reaches about 1,000 to 1,500 Celsius, which is almost the melting point of salt.

Monks of antiquity baked the salt only once or twice. But modern bamboo salt makers will repeat this process up to nine times. Each pass through the flames further refines the salt and infuses it with more bamboo essence.

3 Comments

  1. It tastes really good to. My overwhelming choice as dip for meat (w/ so good sesame oil). Yum yum

  2. Are there any published studies on white Bamboo salt that the public can view? This article states purple Bamboo salt. What is the difference between the two besides color and process?<br />Thanks.

    • The only difference I know of between white and purple bamboo salt is the roasting process. If the bamboo salt is roasted a couple of times, it remains mostly white. The more it&#39;s roasted the more purple it becomes. <br /><br />Most of the studies I&#39;ve seen, such as this one (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570125/) are done on purple bamboo salt.

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