The Types of Salt

Where would our kitchens be without salt?  Pretty bland. Salt is a natural food preservative, and it improves flavor.  It enhances the sweet and balances the bitter.  It’s a small, yet critical, part of almost every recipe in existence. It’s safe to assume all salts are the same, right?  Wrong.

Table salt is the most commonly used.  In the process of making table salt, though, essential nutrients can be stripped away.  Therefore, some table salt manufacturers will add iodide, which helps the thyroid’s production of hormones that regulate the body’s metabolism.  Common table salt that has not been enhanced with iodide would be labeled, “Not a source of iodide.”

Kosher salt isn’t necessarily kosher, but is the larger crystal salts that are used to make kosher meats (dry brining).  Kosher salt has a more pure flavor than traditional table salt because it hasn’t been stripped of nutrients and does not have any additives. Moreover, the larger crystals actually help cooks ensure better salting than the tiny granules of table salt.

Sea salt is made from evaporated sea water.  Many chefs swear by the flavor of sea salt as a vast improvement over table salt.  Sea salt has been used for thousands of years in a variety of ways beyond cooking though… For instance, the salt from the Dead Sea (which is one of the saltiest bodies of water in the world), has long been valued for its ability to keep the skin moisturized and eliminate inflammation.

The award for the purest salt in the world goes to Himalayan salt, which comes from the Himalayan Mountains in Pakistan.  In terms of flavor, it offers the boldest taste and is a staple in many kitchens.  Moreover, this pink salt is bursting with minerals…  84 actually.  The very same 84 natural minerals and elements that are found in the body.  As a result, Himalayan salt is used in spa treatments, and many people swear by the benefits of Himalayan salt lamps.

The name Celtic salt would give the impression that it’s from the shores of Ireland, but this grey salt comes from France.  It’s a salt with a bit more of a briny taste and is popular for cooking fish and meat.

France also produces the Fleur de Sel salt.  It’s quite expensive, as the process for drawing it from the tidal pools in Brittany, France is quite labor intensive. It’s a finishing salt used to add flavor to any entrée or dessert.

Black Hawaiian salt is, as the name implies, harvested from the Hawaiian Islands.  It’s also known as black lava salt, and the color comes from the addition of activated charcoal.  It’s popular for both seafood and pork.

Similarly, Hawaii also harvests a red salt.  Red Hawaiian salt is unrefined, and the red comes from volcanic clay.  Another popular kitchen salt, it’s frequently used in Hawaiian cuisine and has been long-popular for purification and cleansing.

Pickling salt is a fine salt that easily dissolves in brine. Because it does not have an anti-caking ingredient, it has to be kept airtight.  While other salts can be used for pickling vegetables, pickling salt is the preference because it does not affect the quality of the pickling due to any additives or iodide.

And that’s just the tip of the salt block!  Who knew there were so many differences in salt, right?


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