Salt is one of the most important ingredients. It is well known that salt is a necessary part of the human diet, present in small and large proportions in many natural foods. Salt considerably enhances all preparations, whether they be sweet or savoury. We generally associate it with seasoning foods to improve or enhance their flavour, but it is also necessary in the making of many sweet dishes.
It is a good idea to add a pinch of salt to all sweet preparations, nougats, chocolate bonbons and cakes to intensify flavours. Salt also softens sugar and butter, Activates the taste buds and enhances all aromas.
What You Need To Know About Salt
- Salt gives us the possibility od many combinations. At times, these may seem normal (like a terrine of foie grass and coarse salt), others surprising (like praline with coarse salt).
- The addition of salt enhances the flavour of foods when its quantity is well adjusted; but if added it in greater quantity than we are used to, it produces a very interesting, completely unknown result. Care needs to be taken when adding salt. There is a fine line between the enhancement of food with salt and spoiling it by adding too much salt.
- Excessive salt can cause high blood pressure, which could lead to a stroke and heart attacks, so it should be used in moderation. For this reason, many chefs are looking for ways to reduce the amount of salt they use in their products and dishes.
Any trip to a gourmet spice aisle will tell you differently. Finely ground powders and coarse, irregular chunks in rainbow hues – deep, crystalline black, iron red, rose pink, fire red and sea grey – await you. Surprising as it may be, there’s good reason to keep these varieties around in the kitchen.
Let’s take a look at 12 different types of salt and what they’re best for.
1. Table salt
Table salt – the most common – is harvested from salt deposits found underground. It’s highly refined and finely ground, with impurities and trace minerals removed in the process. It’s also treated with an anti-caking agent to keep from clumping.
Most table salt is iodized, meaning iodine has been added to prevent iodine deficiency, which can (and does, in much of the world) cause hypothyroidism and other maladies.
2. Kosher Salt
Koshering salt – or kosher salt, in the U.S. – is flakier and coarser-grained than regular table salt. Its large grain size makes it perfect for sprinkling on top of meat, where it releases a surprising blast of flavor. Kosher salt also dissolves quickly, making it a perfect all-purpose cooking salt.
However, most kosher salt does not contain any added iodine, and only rarely any anti-caking agents. Despite the name, all kosher salt is not certified kosher. Rather, it’s used in the koshering process, when surface fluids are removed from meat through desiccation.
3. SEA SALT
Harvested from evaporated seawater, sea salt is usually unrefined and coarser-grained than table salt. It also contains some of the minerals from where it was harvested – zinc, potassium, and iron among them – which give sea salt a more complex flavour profile.
“Sea salt” is a pretty broad term, as it includes some of the speciality salts described below. Sprinkle it on top of foods for a different mouthfeel and bigger burst of flavour than table salt.
4. Himalayan Pink Salt
Of the different types of salt, Himalayan salt is the purest form of salt in the world and is harvested by hand from Khewra Salt Mine in the Himalayan Mountains of Pakistan. Its colour ranges from off-white to deep pink. Rich in minerals – it contains the 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body – Himalayan salt is used in spa treatments, as well as the kitchen.
Its mineral content gives it a bolder flavour than many other salts, so use it as a cooking and finishing salt – or to add a bit of flair to a salt-rimmed margarita! Slabs of the stuff are used for cooking and serving (Himalayan salt retains temperature for hours), and unfinished pieces often appear in shops as lamps.
5. CELTIC SEA SALT
Also known as sel gris (French for “grey salt”), Celtic sea salt is harvested from the bottom of tidal ponds off the coast of France. The salt crystals are raked out after sinking; this, plus the mineral-rich seawater it extracted from, gives Celtic salt its moist, chunky grains, grey hue, and briny taste.
It’s great on fish and meat as both a cooking and finishing salt, as well as for baking.
6. FLEUR DE SEL
Literally “flower of salt,” fluer de sel is a sea salt hand-harvested from tidal pools off the coast of Brittany, France. Paper-thin salt crystals are delicately drawn from the water’s surface, much like cream is taken from milk. This can only be done on sunny, dry days with a slight breeze, and only with traditional wooden rakes. Because of its scarcity and labor-intensive harvesting, fleur de sel is the most expensive salt (five pounds will run you a cool $80), earning it the nickname “the caviar of salts.”
It retains moisture, and has blue-grey tint, from its high mineral content and oceanic beginnings. If you can afford it, use fleur de sel as a finishing salt to add an impressive dash of flavor to meat, seafood, vegetables, even sweets like chocolate and caramel.
7. KALA NAMAK
Kala Namak (“black salt” in Nepalese) is Himalayan salt that’s been packed in a jar with charcoal, herbs, seeds, and bark, then fired in a furnace for a full 24 hours before it’s cooled, stored and aged.
This process gives Kala Namak its reddish-black color, its pungent, salty taste, and a faint, sulfurous aroma of eggs. It’s often used in vegan and vegetarian dishes to give egg-free dishes the taste of egg, as well as in Ayurvedic practice.
8. FLAKE SALT
Harvested from saltwater through evaporation, boiling, or other means, flake salt is thin and irregularly shaped with a bright, salty taste and very low mineral content.
This shape means the crunchy flake salt dissolves quickly, resulting in a “pop” of flavor. Of the different types of salt, use it as a finishing salt, especially on meats.
9. BLACK HAWAIIAN SALT
Also known as black lava salt, black Hawaiian salt is a sea salt harvested from – you guessed it – the volcanic islands of Hawaii. It gets its deep, black color from the addition of activated charcoal.
Coarse-grained and crunchy, black Hawaiian salt is great for finishing pork and seafood.
10. RED HAWAIIAN SALT
Also called alaea salt, this unrefined, red Hawaiian salt gets its name and color from the reddish, iron-rich volcanic clay alaea.
Used for centuries in ceremonial ways for cleansing, purification, and the blessing of tools, red Hawaiian salt is also great in the kitchen, adding an attractive finish and robust flavor to seafood and meat, as well as traditional island dishes like poke and pipikaula, a Hawaiian jerky.
11. SMOKED SALT
Slow-smoked up to two weeks over a wood fire (usually hickory, mesquite, apple, oak or alder wood), smoked salt adds an intense and, yes, smoky flavor to dishes.
Depending on the time smoked and the wood used, tastes will vary from brand to brand. Smoked salt is the best of the different types of salt to use for flavoring meats and heartier vegetables, like potatoes.
12. PICKLING SALT
Used for pickling and brining, pickling salt does not contain any added iodine or anti-caking agents, nor many of the trace minerals of sea salt, which can cause ugly discoloration of the preserved food.
source – wide open eat