Salt has a greater impact on flavor than any other ingredient. But which to use? Different types have different properties- here are some of my favorites. Also, a word about avoiding salt- unless you have been told by your doctor to limitconsumption, you can relax about your sodium intake from home-cooked food. In almost every case, anything you cook for yourself is lower in sodium than restaurant or processed food.
From the simple to the exotic – we explain something that has lived on your table all your life!
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.
When to use it: pretty much anywhere!
It’s flakier and coarser-grained than the regular table variety. Its large grain size makes it perfect for sprinkling. Sprinkle it on top of foods for a different mouth feel and bigger burst of flavor than table salt.
When to use it: Great for cooking. Like many of the salts below, if you’d like to bring this salt to the table use a small dish and spoon for serving.
Harvested from evaporated sea water, it 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 flavor profile.”Sea salt” is a pretty broad term, as it includes some of the specialty salts like fleur de sel or Celtic sea salt (sel gris). Sprinkle it on top of foods for a different mouth feel and bigger burst of flavor than table salt.
When to use it: Great for finishing dishes before bringing food to the table. Its unique flavor is best added last to preserve its look and taste.
Himalayan Pink Salt
Himalayan 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 color ranges from off-white to deep pink. Rich in minerals – it contains the 84 natural minerals and elements found in the human body – It is often used in spa treatments, as well as the kitchen.
When to use it: Its mineral content gives it a bolder flavor than many other varieties, so use it as a cooking and finishing salt – or to add a bit of flair to a rimmed margarita! Slabs of the stuff are used for cooking and serving (Himalayan salt retains temperature for hours).
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.
When to use it: Coarse-grained and crunchy, it’s great for finishing pork and seafood.
Slow-smoked up to two weeks over a wood fire (usually hickory, mesquite, apple, oak or alder wood), it 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.
When to use it: Smoked salt is the best of the different types of salt to use for flavoring meats and heartier vegetables, like potatoes.
Does all this mean you should simply use more salt? No. It means use salt better. Add it in the right amount, at the right time, in the right form. A smaller amount of salt applied while cooking will often do more to improve flavor than a larger amount added at the table.