Types of salt that every cook should know
Salt is the basic and most versatile product that you should stock in your closet. This ingredient is essential for cooking, baking and seasoning. Let’s learn about the different types of salt, their uses and taste profiles.
Salt is an essential ingredient to always have on hand when cooking and baking. Salt is not only one of the essential taste receptors, but it is a necessary nutrient to help maintain proper body functions. From a culinary point of view, it is present in almost all savory and sweet recipes. It can help enhance flavors and alter the molecular structures of plant proteins and cells to improve the taste and texture of foods.
Various types of salt are obtained naturally from sea water or rock sediments. Where and how salt is processed affects shape, size, and flavor. In recent years, the varieties of salt offered to home chefs have proliferated, which is good news for us, but one that can also be confusing about how to choose.
types of salt
Regardless of the source of the salt’s variety, the common thread is that salt is made of sodium chloride and shaped like a cube in crystalline form. Even more interesting, the composition (size and shape) and mineral content of a salt influence its taste and how it interacts with other ingredients.
It is good to realize that among the different types of salt, measuring the same amount of salt does not always give the same salt content. For example, you would need twice the amount of kosher salt to get the same sodium level as table salt. Also, the salt content can vary between brands. The best thing to do is to start with less when seasoning, then increase the amount until you reach your desired level.
Also known as common salt, these are finely ground square shaped crystals obtained from underground salt deposits and evaporated by vacuum. This is the standard all-purpose salt you’ll find on your table. May contain anti-caking agents to facilitate pouring. Iodization means the addition of iodine, which is comprehensive to prevent iodine deficiency, however, it imparts a slight chemical flavor.
- Taste : A clean salt taste that dissolves quickly. Iodized salt has a slight chemical taste.
- Best use for : cooking and baking.
More flaky and coarse than table salt, its larger form comes from mongooses during evaporation. This name is not because it is actually kosher, but because it is used during the kosher meat process. It does not usually contain any additives but check the labels. Particle size and salt amounts vary between brands, so adjustments must be made.
Note that 1 teaspoon table salt = 1 1/2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt = 2 teaspoons diamond crystal kosher salt.
- Taste : A clean flavor that takes longer to dissolve.
- Best Use : Salting meat because it sticks well to the surface and is easy to spread. Sprinkle on roasted vegetables and general seasoning at the end of cooking for a hint of texture and flavor.
Sea salt evaporates from salt water, so it is generally coarse, irregular in shape, unrefined, and can vary in color. Because it’s minimally processed, it contains other trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, and copper, which give it a more complex flavor profile. There is a range of prices depending on the cost of the process and quality.
- Taste : Similar to table salt with some complex mineral notes.
- Best Use For : More affordable versions for salting meat, seafood, and vegetables. Its texture is more crunchy. Commonly used in Whole 30 and Paleo diets.
pink Himalayan salt
The purest salt in the world and harvested in the Himalayas in Pakistan. It has a characteristic salmon-colored pigment and large, irregularly shaped particles. It is rich in minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper and iron. Withstands high heat since dried at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. It is often used from a health perspective to create electrolyte balance and increase hydration in the body among other benefits.
- Taste : Highly metallic flavor with complex notes.
- Best used for : Seasoning meats, soups, salads, and vegetables. You may need to add salt crystals to a mill or purchase the exact size, use small amounts and gradually add more as needed.
Celtic sea salt
Known as gray salt or sel gris , in French, Celtic sea salt is harvested from tidal pools in France. Salt is whole raw crystals that are full of minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and an alkaline pH helps absorb sodium in the body.
- Taste : It has a shiny metallic taste and a thick texture.
- Best used for : seasoning meat and fish, pickling and adding to the grinder.
It was harvested from the French tidal pools, but in the far north-east of the country, in Brittany. This is a special paper-thin salt that is finely taken from the surface of the water from a short-lived crystallization period. It has a bluish-gray tinge and retains moisture well.
- Taste : Mild, salty flavour, delicate and crunchy texture.
- Best Use For : A fine finishing salt for desserts, vegetables, meat, seafood, grilled foods, salads, and baked goods.
Flake sea salt
The hulled sea salt is harvested by hand from salt water and is irregular in shape, often with large, flat, beautiful-looking square crystals. Low mineral content.
- Taste : A clean but intense salt flavour, with a smooth and crunchy texture.
- Best Use For : Final salt to add texture and enhance food flavours. Often used in baking and confectionery to decorate desserts.
Black and red Hawaiian salt
Both black and pink Hawaiian salts are volcanic salts with legendary properties in the Pacific Islands. Red sea salts may contain volcanic mud, natural trace minerals and electrolytes that give the earth colours. Black sea lava salt contains activated charcoal for dark color.
- Taste : Delicious, both coarse and crunchy and will add a sophisticated flavour.
- Best used for : Seasoning salads, vegetables, grilled meats, fish and poultry.
There are both low-salt and high-salt diets, and it’s best to ask your doctor which, if any, might work best for you. In general, it is considered safe to use a healthy amount of salt, especially during the cooking process at home.
Sticking to whole foods and cooking at home is an excellent way to reduce your salt intake and ensure that everything you eat falls within the healthy consumption range. Salt is okay in special diets like Whole30, too, even the iodized type of table. In general, it is recommended that adults take in no more than 2,300 mg per day – the equivalent of about 1 teaspoon of salt.
In small amounts, most salts have the same effect and you don’t need to convert between recipes. I Like This handy chart, provided by a salt company we’ve all heard about, but it works nonetheless. As you move up the graph, you may have to adjust between different types of salts.
In general, coarse salts take up more space as more is added, so you may get less noise when considering surface area.
How to use salt
- Contamination : I store kosher salt in a small wooden box for general cooking because I use it often. However, if you’re working with raw meat, add a small amount of salt in a separate bowl so the salt stock doesn’t get contaminated. Keep covered when not in use to prevent moisture picking up.
- Amounts : Recipes provide an initial amount, usually leaving room to add more salt to taste. Cooking and baking salts typically use table salt, kosher salt, or sea salt. Try to follow the direction guidelines for the writing, however, and make adjustments to the quantity if you do. It’s best to start with less because more can always be added.
- Application : When adding salt to food before cooking, it is best to sprinkle it 12 inches above the ingredient. This technique helps distribute the salt evenly and prevent pockets from becoming over-salted.