Salt of the Earth: A Savory Guide to the Different Types of Salt

Salt of the Earth: A Savory Guide to the Different Types of Salt

Salt is a humble mineral that is a fundamental ingredient in cooking to enhance flavors, balance sweetness, and add depth to dishes. Salt dates to prehistoric times, where it was used not only for food but also for its perceived medicinal properties. Early civilizations, such as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans, recognized the value of salt and used it extensively in their daily lives. Fun fact: the word "salary" even derives from the Latin word "salarium," which was the allowance of salt given to Roman soldiers as part of their pay.

Today one cannot help but notice the wide variety of salts which leads one to ponder, does it matter which salt I use? The answer depends on who you ask but for me, it matters as each type of salt has its own unique characteristics and flavors. So let’s dive in!

Table Salt

Table salt is of course the most common type of salt and is often used for everyday cooking and seasoning. It is highly refined, with a fine texture and a sharp, salty flavor and is usually fortified with iodine, which is an important mineral for proper thyroid function. For me, table salt is best used for general cooking and baking, where precise measurements are important. Outside of that, I rarely use table salt, but I do take Iodine every single day!

Celtic Salt

Known as grey salt or sel gris, in French, this mineral-abundant sea salt is hand harvested from tidal pools in France. Unlike fleur de sel, which is combed from the surface of the salt water, Celtic salt is harvested from the tidal floor.

Celtic salt crystals are large and have a moisture content up to 15%. With a strong, melodic briny flavor Celtic salt is a wonderful replacement for table salt. Just don't forget it is not iodized.

Baja Gold

Baja Gold is hands down one of if not the best tasting sea salt on the market. It is produced from the mineral rich Sea of Cortez and naturally dehydrated by the sun. This unprocessed and unrefined salt has an incredible concentration of minerals and trace elements and has the lowest salt and sodium content of all the salts. Just as Celtic salt, Baja Gold a fabulous replacement for table salt however as it does have a slightly more flavorful taste profile, you will find you use less Baja Gold vs. traditional table salt.

Kosher Salt

Did you know kosher salt is not called kosher salt because it is kosher-certified, but because it is used in the koshering process of preparing meat according to Jewish dietary laws?  Kosher salt has a larger grain size compared to table salt and has less additives than table salt. It is also affordable and is heat resistant.

An image of kosher salt on fish filet

FYI kosher salt is less salty than table salt by volume, so you may need to use more to achieve the same level of saltiness. It is ideal for seasoning meats before cooking and for finishing dishes.

Sea Salt

Did you know that all salt is technically sea salt? Is a result of evaporation which is an expensive process thus the higher cost. The coarse and chunky salt comes in many varieties, and depending on where it is harvested , such as “Sel Gris” (grey salt) which is produced off the coast of France, sea salt can have different textures and flavors. A perfect example is our own Gourmet Mushroom Infused Finishing Salt that contains elegant chanterelle, lobster and hedgehog mushrooms! Regardless, sea salt is prized for its clean, briny flavor and is often used as a finishing salt to add a crunchy texture and a burst of flavor to dishes.

Fleur De Sel

Fleur de Sel means “Flower of the Sea” and it is one of the most precious ingredients in the world. It is, in fact, a type of sea salt that forms naturally on the surface of saltwater as it evaporates. It is unrefined and thus rich in natural minerals, bringing a lot more mineral flavor and character than other salts.

Fleur de sel originates from the coast of France in Brittany, but you can now find it in North America, and it is an excellent choice for finishing food just before it is served.

Himalayan Salt

Himalayan pink salt is harvested from ancient sea salt deposits in Pakistan formed between 600 million and 800 million years ago. They are the most extensive salt deposits in the world, and possibly the oldest. Himalayan salt has a distinctive pink color due to the presence of trace minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium and is often used for its visual appeal, as well as its subtle, mineral-rich flavor. It is best used as a finishing salt for salads, grilled meats, and vegetables.

A warning however, do your research on the origin of the salt. Recent studies show that some of the Himalayan pink salt has a high mercury count. This is a result of how it is mined so make sure the salt comes from genuine Himalayan salt mines. Look for products that clearly state the source of the salt and trusted brands with certifications like USDA Organic or Non-GMO Project Verified.

Flaky Salt

Flaky salt, such as Maldon salt is in the same family as sea salt and Fleur de sel and is known for its thin, delicate, pyramid shaped flakes that dissolve quickly and evenly. It is it’s clean, briny flavor and light, crunchy texture that differentiates it from sea salt and Fleur de sel. Flaky salt is perfect for finishing dishes where you want a burst of saltiness and a bit of crunch, such as on top of chocolates, caramels, or baked goods.

So now the question remains, what is the best way to use salt? I love the quote “seasonings matter” because quality seasonings help you bring your favorite recipes to their fullest potential and salt is on the top of that list because when salt is used properly, it complements the other ingredients in your dish and often draws out their wonderful flavors. The bottom line is, finer, quick-dissolving salts like kosher salt and sea salts are best used for baking, seasoning, or preserving food. Larger flakes add texture and bursts of flavor and therefore are best used as a finishing salt.

So buy a fabulous salt grinder, I love my Sur La Table Rachet Mill, but if you have a pantry full of a variety of salts, the OXO adjustable salt shaker is a must. Lastly,  always remember and never forget, you can always add more salt but you cannot take it back out. Happy seasoning!


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

You may also like View all