From religion and folklore to wars and economics, salt has played a vital role in human history. An ancient mineral cultivated for thousands of years from the northern province of Shanxi, China to the medieval town of Guérande in Bretagne, France, salt is an essential part of our diets.
With so many different types of salt, knowing how and when to use
each one can be a bit daunting. There are baking salts, cooking salts
and finishing salts.
There are rock salts and sea salts, and salts that
have been smoked or seasoned. And, of course, there is the much revered
Here, we take a look at 10 salts you're likely to encounter in
recipes and at the grocery store.
Table Salt: Refined salt mined from underground salt
deposits, table salt contains more sodium chloride (97% to 99%) than
sea salt. This is what you usually find in salt shakers at dining tables
and at restaurants. Most table salts contain additives such as
anticaking agents and iodine, an essential nutrient.
Kosher Salt: Kosher salt, which originates from
either the sea or the earth, is so named for its use in the preparation
of meat according to Jewish dietary guidelines. However, not all Kosher
salt is certified Kosher. Kosher salt dissolves easily and quickly,
making it a good all-purpose salt. Popular brands include Morton and
Sel Gris: Harvested from salt evaporation ponds, sel
gris -- "grey salt" in French -- is also known as Celtic sea salt and
is a coarse sea salt that is raked once salt crystals have sunk to the
bottom of the ponds. Moist, granular, and chunky, sel gris is used as
both a cooking salt and finishing salt. While it's ideal for fatty meats and roasted root vegetables, Mark Bitterman also suggests using this mineral-rich salt in baking. Try it in a rustic tart crust, for instance.
Gros Sel: Another sea salt, gros sel is made up of
large-grained crystals -- hence its name in French, "large salt." Keep
it in a salt grinder for freshly ground sea salt, use it to create a
salt crust on meat or fish, or use it to season pasta water.
Flake Salt: Produced by boiling or evaporating
brine, flake salts have varying crystal structures and lower trace
mineral content than other salts, including fleur de sel and sel gris.
Used as a finishing salt for fresh foods such as salads, flake salt pops, giving a pleasant crunch to every bite.
Fleur de Sel: Hand-harvested from the same salt
evaporation ponds as sel gris, this sea salt is collected by scraping
salt crystals from the water's surface before the crystals sink to the
bottom of the evaporation ponds. Fleur de sel -- "flower of salt" in
French -- is traditionally, though not exclusively, harvested in
Guérande, Brittany. The delicate, irregular crystals gently dissolve,
making it a great finishing salt. Try it on fish, pork and vegetables. If you can afford it, Bitterman suggests using fleur de sel as your go-to all-purpose cooking salt.
Hawaiian Sea Salt: This fine or coarse grained sea
salt can be either red or black. Red Hawaiian sea salt gets its color
from a natural mineral called Alaea, a volcanic baked red clay, while
black Hawaiian sea salt gets its color from the addition of charcoal.
Full of trace minerals, Hawaiian sea salt complements pork, seafood, ceviche and more.
Smoked Salt: This salt is slow-smoked over a wood
fire to infuse the crystals with a deep, smokey flavor, making it ideal
for grilled meats and heartier vegetables such as potatoes.
Seasoned Salt: Salt can be seasoned with a variety
of different flavorings, including truffles, lemon, herbs and more.
Truffles impart an earthiness to sea salt, making it an ideal flavoring
for risottos, red meats, and egg dishes. A seasoned salt such as lemon flake salt, on the other hand, is great for cocktails or grilled vegetables.
Himalayan Salt: Hand-mined from ancient sea salt
deposits from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, Himalayan salt is rich
in minerals and believed to be one of the purest salts available --
hence its frequent use in spa treatments. It ranges in color from pure
white to shades of pink and deep red. Hand cut into slabs, Himalayan
salt is frequently used as a surface for serving food. Due to their
ability to hold a specific temperature for an extended period of time,
these slabs can be used for anything from serving cold ice cream to
cooking fish, meats, and vegetables. Himalayan salt can also be used as a
cooking or finishing salt. Or use it to rim the edge of a glass for a
Reposted from Food 52