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Different types of salt. When should you use kosher, sea, iodized or rock salt?

Updated on May 3, 2009

sea salt

I like salt, and I hate bland food, and I fear the day some doctor ever tells me to cut back. Salt is flavor and without a judicious but appropriate amount of salt in our food, we never realize the true potential of even the most inspired combination of ingredients.

I don’t eat much processed food though, so I’ll probably do all right; as it's hard to consume too much salt when you control its addition, and only when you rely on prepackaged and long preserved foods do you risk really exceeding your daily recommended allotment.

Salt is pretty important, but while most of us make do with standard iodized table salt for the majority of seasoning needs, there do exist a number of other varieties of salt well suited to other purposes…and some of this salt can get pretty expensive! The most important step to better food is simply using the right amount of salt; but there may be some occasions when you may want to consider a specialty salt.

Different kinds of salt

Table salt…this is a fine grained salt used by most of us in salt shakers and in our home kitchens. This salt is pretty neutral in flavor and dissolves quickly in warm water. Table salt also contains anti caking additives, which make it flow nicely even in humid weather, and iodine for health reasons.

Kosher salt…Kosher salt is simply salt free from additives. Kosher salt can be finely grained or slightly larger, and is most often used by home cooks in canning or meat brines. The lack of additives makes for clearer brines, and does not impart any unwanted additive flavors over long preservations. When making pickles or curing ham…you'll probably want to reach for the kosher salt.

Sea salt…sea salt is harvested after piping sea water onto a flat field, allowing the sun to evaporate the water, and collecting the salt that remains. Sea salt is often prized by cooks as it offers are more complex taste. Sea salt contains additional fine deposits of other minerals which accounts for its varied and complex taste. The area from where the salt is harvested, and the mineral properties of the water in that location, affect the flavor. Sea salt can come both finely grained or more granular in nature.

Fleur de sell…very expensive sea salt from the northern Atlantic coast of France. The slightly gray salt from this reason is complex and elemental in nature and very prized…the fleur de sell is the very top of the evaporated salt layer, and is comprised of flake like crystals of salt, perfect for sprinkling on a great steak after cooking. The texture and crunch of this pricy sea salt is as prized as the taste.

Industrial or rock salt…salt sold in large crystals, not processed and full of impurities, this salt is normally used as road salt, ice cream machine salt, etc.

Other sea salts…there are salts of varying hues harvested from all of the world's oceans, and they all offer a subtle difference in taste.

Some of the better sea salts are very expensive, and although many chefs swear by them, when used as dissolved within food taste tests have failed to notice any distinction or discernable difference. When sprinkled on food table side though, you can taste and feel the difference.

Would You Pay More for "Fancy" Salt

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