Saltiness is one of the five primary basic tastes the human tongue can detect. The other 4 being sweet, bitter, sour, and umami. Check the labels of any prepared food in the house and you will find that almost all will have salt added to it. During ancient times, a lack of salt drastically affected the health of entire populations. Salt was so valuable that it was once used as a currency. So precious that Roman soldiers were paid with salt. The Latin phrase “salarium argentum” is where the English word “salary” came about from.
Did you know that salt lasts for an indefinite amount of time without going bad or expiring? Why? Because salt is a mineral, not an organic substance, so it never spoils.
- Alaea / Red Hawaiian Sea Salt
- Alderwood Smoked Salt
- Applewood Smoked Salt
- Celtic Sea Salt / Sel Gris / Grey Salt
- Coarse Salt
- Curing Salt
- Cyprus Black Sea Salt / Black Diamond Salt
- Dead Sea Salt
- Dendritic Salt
- Epsom salt
- Finishing Salt
- Flake Salt
- Fleur de Sel
- Flor Blanca / Mexican Sea Salt
- French Sea Salt / Sel Marin
- Grinder Salt
- Gros Sel / Large salt
- Hawaiian Sea Salt
- Hawaiian Black Lava Salt
- Himalayan Salt / Pink Salt
- Hickory Smoked Salt
- Iodized Salt
- Italian Sea Salt / Sicilian Sea Salt / Sale Marino / Sel de Mer
- Kala Namak / Black Mineral Salt / Bay Salt / Sulemani Namak / Sulfur Salt
- Kelp Powder / Salt Substitute
- Kosher Salt
- Kauai Guava Smoked Salt
- Maldon Sea Salt
- Mesquite Smoked Salt
- Pickling Salt / Canning Salt / Preserving Salt
- Organic Salt
- Rock Salt / Halite
- Sea Salt / Solar Salt
- Seasoned Salt
- Table Salt
- Truffle Salt
- Umami Salt / Shio Koji
Unlike most salt which is mined, Red Alaea is sea salt that is created through natural evaporation when it is trapped in tidal pools and mixed with red volcanic ‘alae clay. The red color itself comes from the extremely high amount of iron in the clay. While it looks pretty, Alaea is very hard and do not melt as easily as other salts. For consumption purposes, it is better to use it pre/during cooking rather than after unless you crush them finer. Goes well with almost anything but especially good rubbed on steak, pork chops, chicken, etc.
Alderwood smoked salt is made by cool smoking Pacific sea salt over red Alderwood for over 24 hours, giving it a strong, authentic smoke flavor that makes liquid smoke pale in comparison. As no artificial colouring or flavour is added, Alderwood smoked salt is a 100% natural way to add authentic smoked flavor with no strange aftertaste.
Alderwood smoked salt can be used alone or mixed into other spice blends. A pinch will do wonders to creamy pasta dishes and salads. Use in a salt shaker for finishing, roasting, grilling, meats, or seafood. It’s also just as good in fried chicken or in making caramel.
Aged Applewood from Yakima Valley, Washington State is one of the most popular of the fruit woods used in smoking, and it creates a sweet, savory flavor. The subtle hint of fruit wood flavor makes this smoked salt very versatile as a rub, marinade or finishing salt. Suitable to use with fish, shellfish and poultry. Pork, sausage, ham, and bacon are also delicious when cooked or cured with Applewood smoked salt.
True Celtic Sea Salt is hand harvested, using the Celtic method of wooden rakes allowing no metal to touch the salt, in special coastal salt pens along the coast of Brittany, France. Sea water is brought in to the pens, and then carefully allowed to slowly evaporate, leaving behind sea salt in its most natural and complete form. Its natural light grey color comes from the minerals absorbed from the clay lining the salt ponds. It isn’t dry and powdery, like other salts on the market, and this is because it still retains a small amount of natural sea moisture due to magnesium’s natural ability to absorb moisture. So, you know you have good, fresh Celtic Sea Salt when it appears slightly damp and clumps a bit in the salt box.
Because of its mineral complexity and coarse grain size, Sel Gris can be used both as a cooking salt and a finishing salt. Being much denser than table and kosher salts, there is a lot more salt in an equivalent volume of sel gris. Because it is a moist salt, it does not suck all the moisture out of food when used as a finishing salt, unlike kosher salt. Professionally, Sel Gris tend to get paired with heartier foods like steak and root vegetables due to their mineral complexity. However, Sel Gris does go well with everything including ice cream, dark chocolate and even as a bath salt. As a pickling salt, Celtic sea salt is one of the best.
Coarse salt, large grained salt crystals, is the type of salt that you notice immediately on your tongue when you taste something. This can give the impression that something is saltier or better seasoned than something lacking coarse salt, simply because that salt is more upfront, not because the salt is any saltier, on your palate.
Coarse salt is great for finishing off a wide variety of dishes, from salted caramels and other sweet desserts that you want to lend a bit of contrast to, to good pieces of bread and steak. A small sprinkle goes a long way and coarse salt works for you if you want to slightly reduce your salt intake because it allows you to use less. Coarse salt is not meant for baking as you will want salt to disperse evenly so that the flavour is balanced and not in big salty chunks.
Thoroughly cured foods may be stored without refrigeration for weeks or months. Salt curing also makes foods texturally denser and more concentrated in flavor. In meats, curing breaks down and tenderizes tough protein fibers, resulting in the compact yet tender texture of dry cured hams, such as Prosciutto.
There are 2 types of premixed curing salt, namely Prague Powder No.1/Insta Cure #1 and Prague Powder No.2/Insta Cure #2. Prague Powder No.1 consist of 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrite in the cure breaks down over time to nitric oxide which acts as an oxidizing agent preventing the growth of the deadly Clostridium botulinum bacteria, which causes botulism. Best for any type of cured meat product that will require cooking, such as bacon, hams that are not air dried, smoked but not dried sausages, etc. 2 teaspoons is enough to cure roughly 10lbs/5kg of sausage or bacon.
Prague Powder No.2 contains 4% sodium nitrate, 89.75% table salt, and 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is used for meat products that will be air dried and not cooked, such as dried salamis, pepperonis etc, and some air dried hams. Prague Powder No.2 lasts longer in food, because while the nitrite turns into nitric oxide and dissipates, the nitrate instead has to first break down into nitrites before it can dissipate as nitric oxide, thus you have a preservative present for longer.
Cures are dyed pink so that you won’t confuse them with table salt and use them in quantities that might put people in danger. Sodium nitrite, even in small quantities, is very dangerous, and can kill. The lowest known lethal dose of sodium nitrite is 71mg per kg of body weight. At this level, about a tsp of pure sodium nitrite could be enough to kill an average sized adult.
Simply a type of Mediterranean flake sea salt mixed with activated charcoal. The activated charcoal, a natural detoxifier that has health benefits in small doses, gives Black Diamond a deep, dark obsidian luster and a distinctly earthy taste of carbon. Black Diamond’s pyramid-shaped crystals provide a nice toothsome crunch that makes for a marvelous counterpoint in texture on your food. Its raven color brings a delightful contrast to a dish lighter in color such as potatoes, zucchini, asparagus, green beans, summer salad, fish, or even as a cocktail rimmer.
The Dead Sea is the lowest natural place on earth at 423m / 1237ft below sea level. At 337% salinity, it is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. Even the salinity of the ocean is only 35%. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish, hence its name.
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Unlike regular salt, Dead Sea salt is not edible and is a bit bitter to the taste primarily because of the low sodium content and the high presence of bromide, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. This fact however gives it the therapeutic properties that have been raved about for centuries. The minerals present in the salt are also naturally present within skin cells but commonly get depleted which can cause severe dryness, wrinkle development and dull looking skin. When Dead Sea bath salts or products made with minerals extracted from the salt are used, it feeds those essential minerals back into the skin cells improving the overall health and vitality of the skin.
Bathing in bath salts made with salt from the sea is as close to taking a dip in legendary waters as you can get. Dead Sea salts can be effective in balneotherapy of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, and osteoarthritis as the minerals are absorbed while soaking, stimulating blood circulation. It’s also as effective for acne and psoriasis. Magnesium is the mineral instrumental in improving skin hydration and reducing inflammation. Bathing in dead sea salts has also been proven to make you look younger by reducing the depth of wrinkling by 40%!
Dendritic salt is a purified form of table salt that looks like star shaped crystals instead of faceted ones. Moreover, micropores are produced during the salt crystallization process, creating much more surface area than normal salt. This gives dendritic salt the capacity to retain more than twice the amount of volatile essential oils than regular salts, making it ideal for bath products.
Essential oils don’t evaporate from dendritic salt as quickly, and it doesn’t cause the oils to oxidize (which makes them go rancid). Dendritic Salt is moisture-absorbing, so it resists caking and clumping as well. That extra surface area also means dendritic salt dissolves more quickly. Finally, the star-shaped structure keeps it from clumping together, improving the flow of any bath salt mixture you add it to. The general rule is to use one cup or less of dendritic salt to 10 cups sea salt.
A type of bath salt that contains magnesium, sulfur and oxygen. It’s name came about from a bitter saline spring in Epsom in Surrey, England, where the salt was produced from the springs that arise where the porous chalk of the North Downs meets non-porous London clay.
Carbon. The secret to Epsom salt’s great value for medicinal purposes. Carbon, in one form or another, is the main constituent of the building materials which go to form our vegetation and so, in turn, to provide our foodstuffs. And it is in the crude form of carbon, that the waste products of the human body are thrown off. The magnesium draws out the carbon and renders the now inert residue soluble, thereby facilitating excretion.
Taken internally, in small doses, Epsom Salt acts on the kidneys, and by increasing the action of these organs, brings about a greater elimination of waste matter solution through these channels. Its chief value, however, lies in external application, because of it’s power of drawing stored tissue wastes from the body through the skin. A general rule of thumb is to fill a tub of warm water with about 5% of Epsom salt.
Finishing salts are the upper echelon of sea salts and should be used only on finished food. Not while cooking. They are often rich in trace minerals, which bring nutrition value and flavor complexity. Finishing salts have hyper complex crystal structures, creating much more satisfying reactions (varying intensities, varying rates of assimilation, and varying inflections) with food as you chew.
The concept is fairly straightforward. Fling a carefully chosen, artisan made salt across the surface of your food, and bite. First, a flash of salt. Next, the food. A flicker of salt and now fuller food flavors, and then a faint spark of salt catches at the richest and most complex flavors of the food.
The best way to try the variety of finishing salts will be with simple things, especially those flavors you know well. For example, you could try different finishing salts with some sliced tomatoes or cucumbers. Or, a personal favorite would be a few different salts, some good butter, and some quartered radishes. Or, maybe some unsalted bread, olive oil, and some salts. Or on some apples. When you keep the preparation simple, you give the flavor/texture the ability to shine.
Flake salts are a category of salt characterized by its thin crystals and low moisture content. They occur naturally but also can be produced by a variety of methods. They can form as irregular shavings, pyramidal shapes, boxes, or potato chip-like laminated crystals. Because they are formed by rapid evaporation, flake salts are relatively devoid of trace minerals, unlike sel gris or fleur de sel, creating a bold and fierce flavor.
Because the crystals are flaky and thin, they have a large surface area to mass ratio. Upon hitting the tongue they dissolve in a pop of salty electric brilliance before vanishing as quickly as they appeared. Because of the salts’ delicate structures, they are often used as finishing salts.
Delicate flakes complement leafy greens while thicker and coarser flake salts are more ideal for heartier vegetables like roasted squash, eggplant, or tomatoes because they have a big, brilliant pop of salt that contrasts texturally but then instantly dissolves, letting the food’s own flavors shine. Flake salts are also suitable for soups, pasta and salting ice cream.
Fleur de Sel is the first, most fragile salt crystals that form at the top of the sea water as it evaporates. The grains are flaky and can range in color from grey to pink due to the natural minerals in the water. Fleur de Sel is best used as a finishing salt because it is too expensive and rare to be used for anything else. Do not waste fleur de sel in a grinder. Reserve it for sprinkling on things where its texture will not dissipate quickly. For example, homemade caramels, corn on the cob, chocolate desserts, ice cream, toasts, eggs, sliced tomatoes and cucumbers go really well with fleur de sel.
Also known as the Grey Sea Salt of Mexico, Flor Blanca is premium sea salt hand harvested from the salt farms of Manzanilla, Mexico. Most suited as a finishing salt.
Most of them are produced in the central western part of France like Brittany, Guerande, Ile De Noirmoutier and Ile De Re where the Atlantic ocean is. It is believed that the Vikings constructed the first artificial salt pans around Guerande and Ile De Noirmouier during the 9th or 10th century.
Camargue on the other hand, is located in southern France where the Rhone river meets the Mediterranean Sea. Salt has been harvested from the sea at Camargue since at least 400 BC, and was later improved as saltworks by the Romans. In the Middle Ages, the salt pans were sources of wealth for many Cistercian monks.
Today, each area produces its own unique salt using traditional methods. The salts of Guérande are mineral-rich and briny; Noirmoutier fleur de sel has the finest grains; salt from Camargue has the brightest, whitest color. Each is a high quality sea salt with its own character.
Grinder salt is produced especially for use in salt grinders and salt mills. Pure sea salt crystals grind easily and absorbs less moisture than mechanically dried salts. The salt crystals are naturally evaporated and purified before being shipped out to be crushed and screened to the optimal grinder size.
Gros sel is actually a coarser kind of sea salt made up of large-grained crystals harvested just below the layer of Fleur de Sel. Suitable for making salt crusted meats, seasoning pasta water, lining baking dishes, and rims of margarita among others.
Hawaiian natural sea salts have a unique combination of taste, color, and mineral content as the Hawaiian Island archipelago is extremely isolated from other land masses. The places where salt is produced are quite undeveloped, leading to zero industrial or sewage runoff, resulting in unpolluted and balanced ocean waters. As Hawaiian salt is solar harvested, all valuable trace minerals and electrolytes remain intact. The Hawaiian Black Lava Salt has a somewhat nutty flavor while the Red Alaea presents a nice sweet finish.
True Hawaiian black lava is handled gently through a slow and careful process of solar evaporation on hermetically sealed, food-grade solar pans, allowing the salt crystals to form with the trace minerals and electrolytes intact. The rich, deep black color is due to the addition of activated charcoal made from burned up coconut shells, making black lava salt a natural antitoxin (detoxifying) and digestive aid.
Its striking color and great smoky notes make it a great finishing salt for any dish. Great on salads and vegetables. Exceptional on sushi, grilled steak, teriyaki chicken or tofu. The black color of the salt adds presentation points by providing a cool, unique contrast to light colored food like mashed potatoes.
Himalayan salt is by far the purest salt available on earth and is absolutely uncontaminated with any toxins or pollutants. It is hand-mined naturally, deep within the pristine Himalayan Mountains. It contains the full spectrum of 84 minerals and trace elements just like Mother Earth intended. With chemical dumping and toxic spills polluting the oceans, most of today’s sea salt is not as pure as it used to be. Himalayan salt on the other hand, is pure salt mined and washed by hands containing zero environmental pollutants. This earthy tasting salt can be used in place of table salt for general cooking and salt baths.
Hickory smoked sea salt is made by hand smoking sea salt over hickory wood where the temperature and smoking time are carefully controlled. Ideal for people who own dehydrators or intend to make jerky. Goes well with barbeque sauce, soups, cheese dips, nut meats, gravy, stuffing, seasoning ham and pork roast.
Iodine is a mineral that is added to table salt and found in a variety of foods. We can get iodine naturally by eating saltwater fish and seafood, kelp and other sea vegetables as well as vegetables grown in soils that contain iodine. Dairy products also provide iodine if the animals graze on plants growing in iodine rich soils. It is important for good health and, fortunately, our bodies require it in relatively small quantities. Iodine is part of a hormone, thyroxin, which is responsible for maintaining a person’s metabolic rate. If you are eating a healthy, balanced, varied diet, you’re probably getting enough iodine and don’t need to use iodized salt.
Comes from the low waters of the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Sicily where harvesting techniques go back 2000 years with earliest history recorded by the Phoenicians. The salt pans are filled with the seawater in the spring and left to evaporate, relying on the heat of the Sicilian sun and strong African winds. Harvesting takes place once the water has evaporated, and the salt is crushed and ground without any further refining.
It is a natural salt rich in iodine, fluorine, magnesium and potassium, with a slightly lower percentage of sodium chloride than regular table salt. These salts have a delicate taste and plenty of flavor, without being too strong or salty.
Coarse Sicilian sea salt is a natural complement to fresh raw vegetables, salads, and fish. It can also be used to highlight roasted meat, griled fish, carpaccio, bruschetta, panzanella and freshly made pesto. Excellent for rimming margarita glasses.
Found mainly in South Asia, Kala Namak is a pungent smelling condiment composed of several impurities leading to its colour and smell. Sulfur is responsible for the smell while Greigite is responsible for its colour. Brownish pink to dark violet translucent when whole and light purple to pink when ground into powder. Kala Namak was originally obtained from natural halite from mines in Northern India, Nepal and Pakistan in certain locations of the Himalayas salt ranges.
Traditionally, the salt was transformed from its raw natural forms into commercially sold kala namak through a reductive chemical process that transforms some of the sodium sulphate in the raw salt into pungent hydrogen sulfide and sodium sulfide. This involves firing the raw salts in a furnace for 24 hours while sealed in a ceramic jar with charcoal along with small quantities of harad seeds, aamla, bahera, babul bark, or Sajji. The fired salt is then cooled, stored, and aged prior to sale.
Kala Namak is used mainly in South Asian cuisines like chaats, chutneys, fruits, raitas and many other types of savory Indian snacks. Kala Namak is appreciated by some vegans in dishes that mimic the taste of eggs. It is used, for example, to spice tofu to mimic an egg salad.
Sulfur salt is also popular as a bathing salt in France, Spain and Japan for skin infections, inflammation, and respiratory problems. This is because sulfur salt is an unrefined mineral salt, natural disinfectant, and has a strong purifying and re-mineralizing effect on the body. Kala Namak is also a staple in India’s classical Ayurvedic healing methods.
Sold in western supermarkets as granules and as sheets in Asian supermarkets, kelp is actually a type of sea vegetable. It grows in underwater ‘forests’ (kelp forests) in shallow oceans and is known for its high growth rate, growing as fast as half a meter a day, potentially reaching up to 80 meters. Kelp tastes fishy, ‘seaweedy’, savory, and salty altogether. However, it only has a fraction of the sodium of regular salt and is an excellent source of iodine.
You will never feel guilty if you ever over-sprinkle kelp granules on your dishes as it is an excellent organic salt substitute. In Japanese cuisines, Kombu is used to flavor broths and stews (like dashi), as a savory garnish for rice and other dishes, as a vegetable and a primary ingredient in the popular snack tsukudani.
Kosher salt takes its name from its use in the koshering process. It contains no preservatives and can be derived from either seawater or underground sources. Aside from being a great general salt to keep within arm’s reach when you are cooking, it is particularly useful in preserving as it draws moisture out, especially blood and other fluids from meat, better than table salt.
While Kosher salt is much more coarse than table salt overall, there is a bit of variation in crystal size among Kosher salts. If you use one particular brand for any length of time, you’ll probably start to develop a feel for how much salt you’re using. If for some reason you have to switch to another brand, you may have to readjust to compensate for the different sized grains.
The fine, fractured crystals of this low moisture salt are sun dried and hand harvested, then smoked low and slow over native guava wood in Kauai, Hawaii. The result is a mild, smoky sweet flavor that brings to life mild flavored foods like rice, soft cheeses and dairy. Also pairs well with salmon, turkey burgers, eggs, risotto, vegetables and in sandwiches.
Maldon Sea Salt is a unique sea salt that has been produced by The Maldon Crystal Salt Company since 1882 from Essex, located in Southeastern England. It is the ultimate salt for daily use in salads, with a texture equivalent to fireworks and a crisp, balanced flavor.
Produced by saltmakers in the Maine coast of US, Mesquite smoked salt is a hearty, medium-dense smokey salt suitable for finishing, roasting, grilling, red meat and poultry.
Pickling salt is pure granulated salt that is used mainly for canning pickles. Unlike table salt, pickling salt does not contain anti-caking ingredients, which can turn pickles cloudy, or additives like iodine, which can make pickles dark. In addition, fine granules make pickling salt easy to dissolve in a brine. Kosher and pure sea salt are two suitable alternatives.
Salt is a mineral, not a plant, so it cannot be ‘organically grown’. However, certified organic salt is guaranteed to be harvested from a protected, pollution-free environment and to be unrefined. Nature et Progrés in France, BIO-GRO in New Zealand, and the Soil Association in the United Kingdom are 3 instances of organizations that hand out organic compliant certifications. This is the highest and most natural guarantee possible for salts. For example, Nature et Progrés mandates that only wooden hand-tools are used in the harvesting of the salt, a process which is completed entirely by hand.
Rock salt is basically sodium chloride, the same as sea salt, but the former is obtained as a mineral. Before being industrialized, salt was mainly obtained in salt mines, where it accumulated once oceans retreated. This form of salt is available in most grocery stores and also in hardware stores, which stock it in massive bags for the purpose of keeping down ice on the roads in the winter. Because brine (a solution of water and salt) has a lower freezing point than pure water, putting salt or saltwater on ice that is near 0°C (32°F) will cause it to melt. This effect is called freezing-point depression.
The primary difference between rock and table salt is the size. Rock salt forms in very large, chunky crystals, as opposed to the small crystals seen in table salt. Like table salt, it also has an assortment of trace minerals that can have an impact on how it behaves chemically. Because of the large crystal size, rock salt is not usually used directly in cooking, since it takes a long time to dissolve. However, food grade rock salt is used often especially in homemade ice cream. When it’s packed in with ice in an ice cream maker, it lowers the freezing point, allowing the ice cream to get colder.
Sea salt is simply salt produced from the evaporation of seawater. It is usually not processed, or undergoes minimal processing, and therefore retains trace levels of minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and other nutrients. Modern sea salt production is almost entirely found in the Mediterranean and other warm, dry climates.
In applications that retain sea salt’s coarser texture, it can provide a different mouth feel, and may change flavor due to its different rate of dissolution. The mineral content also affects the taste. The colors and variety of flavors are due to local clays and algae found in the waters the salt is harvested from. For example, some boutique salts from Korea and France are pinkish gray, some from India are black. Another example are black and red salts from Hawaii that contain black lava and baked red clay.
Seasoned salt is a blend of table salt, herbs, spices, and/or MSG. Sold commonly in supermarkets all over, seasoned salt is also known as chicken salt in Australia and chip spice in New Zealand.
Table salt is a form of salt that is designed to be used in cooking and at the table. This form of salt is refined to remove impurities and it may include some additives, depending on where it is processed. It is distinct from unrefined salt, which is allowed to retain its impurities. Unrefined salt can also be used for seasoning foods, and some are actually highly prized precisely because of the impurities they contain. During processing, table salt may be iodized and it can also be treated with anti caking agents to prevent it from clumping.
Truffle salt is sea salt that has been laced with fragrant pieces of black or white truffle. The rich, earthy flavor of truffles makes even simple scrambled eggs gourmet, but truffles can be hard to find and very expensive. Truffle salt is often added as a seasoning to egg, meat, tofu, and pasta dishes. Unlike truffle oil, truffle salt is not usually of synthetic origin.
This salt is, essentially, pure MSG. Evolution has made sure our tongue and palate come equipped to easily detect naturally occurring glutamate, which make us involuntarily salivate, an excellent mechanism for ingesting food. Umami, the fifth taste sensation after sweet, sour, bitter and salty, is actually ‘savoury’ in Japanese. Umami salt goes well with everything. Add a pinch of Umami Salt before grilling, sautéing, or baking. Sprinkle it over vegetables, fruits, and salads, or add it to any rub to give it the Umami edge. Or just simply sprinkle some on your tongue and salivate for fun.