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What Type Of Salt Should You Use In Your Kitchen?

Team Made In|May 18, 2019
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What salt is best for cooking? And is there a difference between kosher and sea salt?

Competitive cooking show fans know that the most common reason for losing is lack of salt. Whether the prepared food is savory or sweet, skimping or

eliminating

salt from a recipe, is the mark of death. To put it simply: salt is essential for enhancing flavor.

The world of salt expands far beyond table salt. Kosher salt alone has several varieties ranging from the sea to one harvested from French ponds. It’s endless.

Many recipes specify which type yields the best results, but more often you rely solely on your knowledge. And let’s be honest, most people are not experts in salt. Understanding the subtle differences in salt can make a world of difference in culinary success.

Varieties of Salt

Table Salt

Plain table salt is the play for cooking and baking recipes where salt texture is not important, such as salting pasta water or most baking recipes. In these cases, the salt dissolves when you mix it with wet ingredients or water and there’s no reason to use expensive varieties when you won’t taste the difference or need the texture. It’s also the least expensive, coming in at under $1 per pound.

Kosher Salt

Chefs preferred this coarse, craggy crystals when seasoning meats and vegetables. It was the first popularized “gourmet” salt widely available in grocery stores. Its texture makes it easy to pinch, giving cooks control that they can see, and it’s flakiness allows the salt to bind to the outside of meats.

To get this flakey texture, Kosher salt is raked during the evaporation process and it’s name comes from its long-time use to cure meats, a step in the process of koshering. Despite the name, all kosher salt is not certified kosher. It’s relatively cheap at about $1 a pound.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is a type of kosher salt, but it’s considered a step up from kosher salt because it’s less refined. Despite being the least processed type of salt, it can be the most expensive and laborious. This variety is available in fine or coarse textures, and it often contains residual minerals that alter the salt’s color. Sea salt dissolves quickly when exposed to moisture, so it’s best to add only once the food is served. Crystalline sea salt can be at least twice as expensive as kosher salt, running from $2 to over $15 a pound, so it’s typically reserved for finishing a dish.

Flaked Sea Salt

This delicate, specialty variety of sea salt adds a multifaceted, briny flavor to recipes like steamed vegetables and shellfish, when you crush a pinch of the pyramid-shaped crystals between your fingertips, sprinkle them on right before serving, and watch them disappear. With origins mainly on England’s Essex coast, expect to pay upwards of $12 a pound for flaked sea salt. Our favorite go-to flaked sea salt for wowing houseguests and palates alike is Maldon.

Fleur de Sel

Often referred to as the caviar of sea, Fleur de Sel actually comes from coastal salt ponds in France where it’s harvested by hand as it “blooms” on the surface of the water like a budding flower. You’ll find it on tables in upscale restaurants displayed in little salt cellars for diners to pinch and season their meals to taste. It melts slowly in your mouth, leaving behind a memorable, pleasant taste. This salt experience will cost you; Fleur de Sel sells for about $11 for a quarter pound or $45 for a little over 2 pounds.

Selecting the Salt

At the end of the day, you could spend a fortune on speciality salts, but the flavor and benefits won’t change too much. If you stick with the basic salts (table, kosher, and sea), you’ll cover your bases and have a variety of textures that are suited for cooking, seasoning, or finishing your dish.

Measuring Rules

The more salt a recipe calls for, the greater the conversion rate. When using salt to flavor a finished dish such as vegetables, meat, poultry, or seafood, personal preference also plays a big role in how much you use, so make sure you are tasting your recipe as you add salt slowly. It is a lot easier to add more salt than dilute a too-salty mixture.

Table Salt

Kosher Salt

Fine Sea Salt

1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

1 1/4 teaspoons

1 teaspoon

1 tablespoon

1 tablespoon+3/4 teaspoon

1 tablespoon+1/4 teaspoon

1/4 cup

1/4 cup+1 tablespoon

1/4 cup+2 teaspoons

Salting Secrets

Salt pasta water very generously only after it comes to a boil, right before you add the pasta. A good rule of thumb is 1 pound of pasta: 1 tablespoon salt: 4 quarts (16 cups) water.

Salt rice when you mix it with the water, before cooking. That’s the only way the rice won’t be bland.

Don’t ever eliminate salt from a sweet recipe; salt is what makes the sweetness shine. For instance, chocolate chip cookies without salt in the dough are almost inedible.

Ever heard of the Salt Bae? The reason for salting high above the food is that the rain of salt will coat your food more evenly due to the turbulence in the air, according to food scientist Kenji Alt-Lopez.

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