A Salt Primer

The essentials of the most common seasoning

A Salt Primer

The essentials of the most common seasoning

Using the right salt can have a huge impact on flavor and even the textures of our food.  Salt has recently entered the rarified world of gourmet products and a new crop of very expensive designer salts have started to appear in specialty markets. 

The choices are getting complicated and pricey.  What does a city cook need to know?   Here's a little background on salt and some recommendations on what you should have in your kitchen.

Salt Basics

There are three types of edible salt:

  1. Unrefined salt:  Sea salt with no chemical additives.
  2. Refined salt:  Processed usually from rock salt, mined from mineral deposits originating from ancient salt lakes; many have added edible chemicals to prevent caking, as well as folic acid and potassium fluoride.
  3. Iodised salt:  A refined table salt with iodine added as a public health protection again thyroid and certain developmental diseases.  Iodised salt is still commonly sold around the world but is most important in under-developed countries where salt may be the only dietary source for iodine, an essential nutrient.

Specialty Salts

Within these three basic categories there are many different choices.  These are the most common:

What's Best for Home Cooks

Tip:  when moving back and forth between different types of salt, be attentive to the size of the crystals and the amount of salt that a recipe may call for.  One teaspoon of kosher salt may have the same salt impact as one-half teaspoon of a fine crystal salt.

Regardless which you choose, just get rid any boxes of iodine-added industrial table salt you may still have.

Salting Tips

You can always add salt but you can't take it away (I've heard about that trick of putting a potato in something that's over-salted; I'd rather avoid the problem to begin with).  Add salt gradually and keep tasting before you add more.





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