3.31.2021

Salt Cellars With Eddie Ross

image via Eddie Ross, Modern Mix

I love using a salt cellar ... I think it adds something a little extra to the table, and of course, is very user friendly.  I think the first time I even knew what a salt cellar was happened many years ago.  My grandmother had small dishes that she would add Jordan almonds to and I just assumed that was their use.  Now that I look back on it I am pretty sure they were meant for salt but because Nana had a great Tupperware set she used them for something else. 😂 Fast forward many years and it was an event at Atlanta's Mart that I was attending to chat with Eddie Ross after that I saw him use them with darling Lucite pieces underneath.  Having inherited some from my in laws I immediately stared using them.  

image via Eddie Ross

I recently chatted with Eddie about salt cellars, their popularity, and the many things they can be used for instead of just for salt. He is, as always, a wealth of knowledge and ideas and tricks.  If I have a question about something I have found and how to clean, I call Eddie.  If I find something unique, I text Eddie.  A few years ago while shopping with him in Charlotte I snagged a brass champagne stand with all the glasses.  It was a few months later and he texted me the same thing I paid maybe $40 for ... at a much higher price.  He has an amazing eye and can spot a find from miles away.  He is a great resource and I am thrilled he was up for helping me on this post. 

image via Eddie Ross

After doing some research I understand that the salt cellar dates back as early as classical Rome.  They were a necessity as salt was not free flowing as it is now.  Salt was used to season, preserve, and later on as a flavoring tool.  When the salt cellar was used on the table it became a tool for how to seat your guests.  Those who sat near the cellar were considered the honored guests and those farther away were considered less important.  With the introduction of free flowing salt in 1911 the cellar became less important in exchange for a salt shaker.  This quote sums up the idea of sitting near the salt ... 

The social symbolism of salt was painfully evident in the medieval equivalents of the Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette. As late as the 18th century, the rank of guests at a banquet was gauged by where they sat in relation to an often elaborate silver saltcellar on the table. The host and “distinguished” guests sat at the head of the table—”above the salt.” People who sat below the salt, farthest from the host, were of little consequence. (source)


                                                                       image via Eddie Ross

A classic salt cellar is still used many times for a formal dinner.  They are charming and a traditional addition to a well set table.  Eddie sees them as a useful addition to a meal and I could not agree more.  He shared that he not only uses them for salt and pepper but has also added in parmesan cheese and red pepper for Italian meals.  I just love the creativity to be able to use something you own and love. 

So, Eddie's thoughts ~

A salt cellar, or salt dip, should be filled with salt at all times ready to be pulled out and used.  He said that if it is ready to go you will use it more often than not.  I could not agree more.  Of course, if you cellar is made of silver keeping it filled is not desirable.  It will damage the vessel.  Salts are made of two types, a master and smaller individual smaller ones. You do not have to have both, but it does help to explain the sizes you will find.  They are made of a number of different items; glass, brass, enamel, colored glass, porcelain, fine china, silver plate, and sterling silver.  Which you choose to collect is completely up to you and you can even mix them to create quite a collection.  To begin he recommends purchasing glass, it will help you ease into the more elaborate.  You can use them with or without spoons, pinching the salt is absolutely acceptable.  

If you find silver plate or sterling ones that are corroded with blue, do not fret.  Simply fill a container with white vinegar and allow it to sit in the sun. This will take away the corrosion and allow you to polish your items.  I was thrilled to hear this tip as I have a few pepper shakers with some corrosion.  The next sunny day in Georgia will find me soaking mine outside. 

A few direct questions I asked ... 

Do you think they are making a comeback? 


image via Eddie Ross

Absolutely ... with the introduction of grey salt, pink salt and amazing salt flakes chefs and foodies want to show it off.  A salt is the best idea.  You can also fill a large one will salt and use it as a salt pinch next to the range. 


both images with pieces styled from the collection of @deanna.dewey

What do you look for in a good salt cellar? 

Oh, so many things. First of all cut crystal or pressed glass. Good colors ... sterling silver with cobalt is always a good find. I recently founds some Danish modern with yellow enamel. I buy and collect all sorts of cellars. 

Do you ever use them for anything else? 

Oh yes ... I use the larger ones for flat flower arrangements.  U have used them for individual servings and split them in half with salt on one side and pepper on the other.  I love using them for butter sprinkled with salt and placing them on a bread plate. I also use them with  red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese for lasagna. Also with the larger ones you can collect enough and use them for votives,  Basically they are useful for almost anything at all. 

a pair of my own with sterling M spoons

His book, Modern Mix, is a great resource for information on salts and so many other things.  If you do not have a copy get yourself one immediately. 

I will have some great salts up for sale in tomorrow's Shop Pink Clutch weekly sale ... and keep your eyes open when you are out antiquing for some great ones.  

Happy Wednesday ... 

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