Undoubtedly salt is probably the most important ingredient in your cabinet and salts are an instant fix for flavoring food. Now salt is not only for enhancing flavor, but salt releases molecules into the air which give food its smell. Can you imagine living in a world where you can’t smell your favorite home cooking smells? Equally, when it comes to baking, salt can bring out sweetness so it compliments sugar really well. And, It can also activate sour and umami flavors plus bring out moisture.
If you’ve ever found yourself a little overwhelmed in the grocery store at the many varieties of salt colors, granule sizes and shapes, let us run through some popular varieties and how to use them to their full salty potential.
The most common household favorite. It has very fine granules derived from salt deposits found underground and its impurities and trace minerals are removed in the process. This staple is iodized (iodine has been added to prevent iodine deficiency) and is usually treated with an anti-caking agent to keep from clumping. Some folks add rice into their salt containers to absorb any moisture from the air to reduce clumping.
Best uses; adding to food during cooking and baking as it dissolves quickly and evenly. Table salt can also be used for household purposes such as deterring ants, stopping candles from dripping and even putting out gas fires. Check out this awesome article for more deets!
Photo: Toni Osmundson
Despite the name, kosher salt isn’t always actually kosher, it is just the primary choice for koshering meat, a process of removing blood that involves rinsing, soaking, and salting. In fact, kosher salt is often the top choice for meats. It’s more flaky and the coarse grind allows it to be easily sprinkled and distributed on meat to bring out moisture and flavor. But it still dissolves quickly, making it great for salting pasta water too. Kosher Salt typically has a lower salinity, which makes it easier not to over-salt.
The two most common brands are Morton’s and Diamond Crystal, according to Chrissy Teigen Diamond Crystal kosher salt is “less ‘salty’ than other salts.” She explains that, “if you’re using Morton’s, decrease the salt by one third to account for its more concentrated saltiness.”
Best uses; Rimming the glass of your favorite cocktail, sprinkling on meat, as a finishing touch to your meal, salting pasta/potato boiling water.
Pretty bougie salts;
Himalayan pink salt
Besides it being the prettiest salt on the list, this gem is the purest salt in the world and is harvested all the way from the Khewra Salt Mine in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan. As it’s imported, of course it’s a little more expensive but it’s a favorite amongst foodies, especially for grilled meats, veggies and in sauces. Aesthetically, it is beautiful but it also packs a punch of flavor with its high mineral count.
Best uses; as a cooking and finishing salt or to make your margarita extra fancy and gorgeous. Himalayan salt has gained popularity as decor in homes in the form of a salt lamp and even in spa treatments!
Photo: Taryn Elliot
As the name would suggest, sea salt comes from evaporated seawater. It has that distinct sea flavor from the minerals of the ocean, and is a much more coarse grind with larger granules than table salt. Sea salt is usually unrefined and coarser-grained than table salt. It has a similar texture to kosher salt, but a slightly more elevated flavor, it also comes with a slightly higher price tag!
Best uses; go lightly with this beauty, but it’s perfect as a flavorful topper to your dishes, or even on sweeter baked goods. Not to forget everyone’s favorite new flavor duo, salted caramel! I used the maldon sea salt flakes to finish my spicy cayenne keto brownie bites
For those of you who love to pickle your veggies and love a salty treat, pickling salt is a new staple for your collection. It works effectively as a brine because of it’s fine grain which dissolves beautifully in water.
Best uses; uh pickling?
Extra fancy salts are an instant fix for flavoring food too;
Kala Namak (black salt)
Now this dark Himalayan salt is blended in a jar with charcoal, herbs, seeds and bark. Next comes roasting it in a furnace for a 24 hour period, before being cooled, stored and aged. It’s a pungent and flavorful salt which is popular in vegetarian and vegan dishes for it’s sulphuric (egg like) flavor. In fact, Ayurvedic healers claim this Indian black salt possesses several therapeutic qualities. Which include clearing bowels, calming hysteria, cleaning teeth and weight loss! Best uses; Ayurveda practice and spicing up your veggie and Asian style dishes.
Yep. Smoked salt sounds tasty, eh? Smoked salt can be slow-smoked for up to two weeks over a wood fire (usually hickory, apple, oak mesquite or alder wood). Additionally smoked salt can really elevate meats and add more flavor intensity to BBQ dishes.
Best uses; Flavoring meats and veggies over the grill. Use sparingly, as this one can be pricey and intense!.
Fleur de Sel
While anything with “fleur” in the title has to be special, right? This beautiful blue/grey salt originates from tidal pools off the coast of Brittany, France. The crystals are very thin and delicate, and are drawn from the surface of the water only on sunny dry days, with traditional wooden rakes. Naturally, it’s a lengthy and tough process, and because it’s so exclusive, it costs a pretty penny and has been nicknamed the caviar of the salt world.
Best uses; this is your fanciest fancy salt. Of course, its hefty price tag and how difficult it can be to track down, use it as a beautiful topper to enhance flavor.
Finally if you need to give your food a boost remember salts are an instant fix for flavoring food.