The Many Wonders of Sea Salt
Let’s face it – salt is fantastic. Just a shake or two can transform a mundane meal to a delectable treat. Of all the spices in your kitchen, salt is a classic ingredient that is often taken for granted, but stands alone in its versatility: it can bring out sweetness and zest, tone down bitterness, add texture, and enhance the existing character of any food it touches. Here, we’ll take a closer look the many different kinds of salt and how they can be used. When you learn about the vast array of salt choices, the possibilities are endless!
Your Body Needs Salt
Most of us have heard that a low-salt diet leads to lower blood pressure and a diminished risk of heart disease. If you read health news or science blogs, salt looks like the enemy, raising blood pressure, clogging arteries, and generally wreaking havoc on our bodies. It’s true that eating too much salt can raise the amount of sodium in your bloodstream, thereby raising the levels of water in your body. Your kidneys must then work overtime to remove the excess fluid, which results in higher blood pressure. The FDA currently recommends eating no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt per day, roughly equivalent of 1 teaspoon.
That said, when you hear that salt is generally ruinous to your health in any quantity, well, you can take those claims with a grain of salt. While too much salt is not particularly healthy, salt still carries great benefits and it’s actually wise to include it as part of a balanced diet. Your body actually needs salt in order to function optimally. Diets that are too low in salt have been found to result in increased levels of hormones and lipids in the blood, and in extreme cases, cases of hyponatremia. Hyponatremia occurs when sodium levels in the body are abnormally low, and can lead to nausea, headaches, dizziness, and worse.
Salt is composed of sodium and chloride. Sodium is an electrolyte, and in addition to regulating the fluid levels in our bodies, it aides in the passage of nutrients to our cells while supporting healthy muscle and nerve function. The human body does not produce salt on its own, so we get it from food. Most food naturally contains salt, albeit in small quantities, and we add extra salt to processed foods as it enhances taste and acts as a preservative.
If you have a salty snack, you may notice yourself feeling thirsty afterwards. This is because when you consume high amounts of salt, your body retains water to stabilize the concentration of sodium in your body. So, if you’ve ever wondered why there are bowls of chips, peanuts, or pretzels on the bar while you enjoy a beer, this is why – salt makes us thirsty (and makes bartenders rich!).
In moderation, salt is part of a healthy diet and comes in a variety of flavors, textures, and forms. By experimenting with new varieties of salt, you can breathe new life into your meals.
In the Kitchen
Salt has long been known for its flavor-enhancing qualities. To quote Homer, salt is “a divine substance.” Not only does salt make everything taste better, but it actually affects the cooking process in surprising ways.
Salt can make a dramatic difference when cooking, depending on how you use it. The dehydrating properties of salt can help draw the water out of “sweating” vegetables during the cooking process so they soften quickly. While steaming, salt can bring out the colors and natural flavor of veggies, seafood, and meat. When cooking vegetables in water, salt can help retain valuable nutrients; when added to boiling water, a pinch of salt vastly improves the taste of starchy foods such as rice, pasta, or potatoes.
Brine is also used when pickling fruit, vegetables, and meats. Here, salt works as a preservative and controls fermentation. The salt works in tandem with acid (vinegar) to inhibit bacteria and enhance flavor. It also draws out excess water, giving pickled foods that satisfying crunch.
When cooking meat, simply seasoning it with a bit of salt can draw the juices to the surface while roasting, creating a crisp, golden crust. A bit of salt goes a long way, making it an easy and economical way to add taste and texture to your meat dishes.
Make Sure You Are Choosing the Right Salt
If you believe there’s only one kind of salt out there, think again. There is an astonishing variety of salt and each has its own unique taste, texture, and flavor. Table salt is the most commonly used salt, and is fortified with iodine. Table salt is very fine and dissolves quickly, making it easy to use, but it’s not especially interesting. Learn about the different types of salt and experiment to your heart’s content!
Sea salt is a mainstay for discerning cooks and foodies alike. There are 2 grain-types, fine and chunky. More granular than table salt, sea salt is a great finisher. Add a little bit bit to your salads, breads, or veggies to bring out the flavor. Use salt sparingly when cooking or baking, however, as its rugged granules don’t dissolve easily and may affect the texture of your dish.
Many cooks claim that it is healthier than table salt. Since it isn’t processed like table salt, it contains many trace minerals and nutrients that our bodies need to function optimally. It adds a distinctive flavor to edamame, steamed vegetables, seafood, and baked goods.
Rock Salt is mined from deposits found in dry lake beds, rock salt is often sold raw and unprocessed, making it the purest form of salt you can find. Also referred to as sendha namak, rock salt is very inexpensive, lower in sodium than other types of salt, and has a more subtle taste. Rock salt is often used in ice cream makers to speed up the melting process so the ice cream freezes faster.
Additionally, rock salt can be used as a home remedy for conditions such as arthritis and insect bites, and the large, jagged crystals are poured on snowy roads to melt the ice.
Check Out Some More Gourmet Chef Salts Below
Harvested from the beautiful and mysterious Himalayan mountains, Gourmet Himalayan Salt is both beautiful and fortifying. Pink or light reddish in color, each salt crystal forms a perfect geometric pattern when viewed under a microscope. Himalayan salt is rich in nutrients and minerals that are easily absorbed and utilized by the body. The pink color is derived from iron oxide present in the salt.
Gourmet Himalayan Salt is a wonderful addition to meats, grilled vegetables, salad, soups, stews, or baked goods, and can be used for salt rubs, brine solutions, or as a unique and aesthetically pleasing table salt.
French Grey Salt
Formed by the sea as it flows into the Guerande Marshes in France, French Grey Salt is harvested by hand using skills and methods over one thousand years old. Also called Sel Gris, the salt’s unique grey coloring is due to its crystallization on clay. French Grey Salt is lower in sodium than other sea salts, and in its unrefined state, contains trace minerals found in the seawater from which they are harvested.
The moist crystalline texture and mild flavor of French grey salt makes it perfect for use on salads, fresh vegetables and grilled meat. It can be used during the cooking process or as a finishing salt.
Hailing from the region of Brittany on the picturesque coast of France, Fleur De Sel translates to 'the flower of salt'. Fleur De Sel is painstakingly harvested by hand and therefore more expensive and hard to come by than other types of salt. Given the perfect weather conditions, Fleur De Sel “blooms” on the surface of the water and is then collected and packaged.
Fleur De Sel is light and delicate, with flakes that dissolve instantly in food or on the tongue, making it the perfect choice for baking and desserts. Fleur De Sel is also a wonderful finishing salt.
Known for its crisp, bold taste and distinctive hue, Black Hawaiian Lava Salt is harvested from the Pacific Ocean and sold in its pure, natural form with trace minerals intact. The salt is naturally infused with activated coconut shell charcoal, which lends it a dramatic color in addition to numerous health benefits including high levels of antioxidants.
Black Hawaiian Lava Salt is best used as a finishing salt for entrees, and you can also sprinkle some on your dessert for a hint of flair and flavor.
Pacific Ocean Sea Salt
Meticulously harvested from the cool blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, Pacific Sea Salt is pure, tasty, and 100% kosher. Unlike ordinary table salt, Pacific Salt is unrefined and unprocessed, and thus retains many trace minerals and nutrients found not only in the ocean, but in our bodies as well.
It is a great, natural alternative to your everyday table salt and enhances the flavor of meat, seafood, veggies, and more.
Smoked Cherrywood Salt
Preferred by discerning chefs around the world, Smoked Cherrywood Salt is exquisitely flavorful and adds a new dimension to entrees. Smoked Cherrywood Salt is pure ocean salt that has been slowly smoked over a Maine cherrywood fire, and the result is a course and delightfully aromatic salt that adds flair to a variety of dishes.
Cherrywood Salt is a wonderful addition to soups, stews, and marinades, and can be used as a finishing salt over meats, eggs, vegetables, or seafood. Sprinkle a bit on ice cream or drop a grain or two into your favorite cocktail to add a delightful and unexpected twist that’s sure to please the palate.
Smoked Alderwood Salt
Rich and intense, Smoked Alderwood Salt adds a delectable burst of flavor to anything it touches, on or off the barbeque. This unique salt is harvested from the Pacific Ocean and slowly smoked over a
Northwest Red Alderwood fire. This completely natural, centuries-old process yields an extraordinarily rich and smooth-tasting salt without any harshness or bitterness.
Enjoy it on fish, poultry, steak, vegetables and more - let your imagination run wild! Smoked Alderwood Salt's authentic, clean smoke flavor makes it the perfect go-to salt when you want to impress your guests or enjoy a distinctive meal at home.
Alaea Hawaiian Salt
Alaea Hawaiian Red Salt is the traditional salt of the Hawaiian islands, and is celebrated for its mellow flavor, mesmerizing color, and versatility. These salts are harvested from the Pacific Ocean using traditional alaea clay also adds nutritional value to the salt by providing a source of digestible dietary iron and other trace minerals.
Hawaiian Red Alaea can be used in the cooking process or as a garnish, and is gaining popularity as a topping for ice cream and other desserts.
Cyprus Flake Salt
This wonderfully light and delicate crystal flake salt hails from the Mediterranean Sea surrounding the island of Cyprus. Harvested by way of solar evaporation, Cyprus Flake Salt boasts dazzling, unique pyramid-shaped crystals formed during a long, gradual heating process.
Cyprus Flake Salt delivers a delightful crunch and mild flavor that’s ideal for use in cooking, baking, and garnishing. Cyprus Flake Salt is also wonderful for seasoning meat, seafood, vegetables, pastas, soups, and sauces.
Mediterranean Sea Salt
This fine, delicate salt is selected for its beautiful white crystals and versatility. The salt is harvested from the pristine waters of the Mediterranean Sea using ancient methods of solar evaporation. In this region, high evaporation rates coupled with virtually no pollution set the stage for an exceptionally pure, clean salt.
Mediterranean Salt is low in moisture and has a smooth flavor, without containing any additives. Natural magnesium prevents caking and is just one of the many trace minerals found naturally in this salt.
Natural Lemon Cyprus Salt
For a pleasant hint of citrus in your meal, add a bit of Natural Lemon Cyprus Salt. The beautiful, pyramid shape of this salt provides a delightful crunch, while the subtle yet distinctive citrus flavor makes this a perfect finishing salt for seafood, salad, or chicken.
Add a pinch or two to vanilla ice cream or chocolate mousse for a flavorful, decadent dessert.
Black Truffle Salt:
Transform your entrees from mediocre to gourmet with this wonderfully pleasing finishing salt. Chefs around the world use truffle salt to add texture and distinctiveness to their finest entrees, desserts, and hors d'oeuvres.
Black Truffle Salt can be sprinkled on risotto, seafood, salads, and more, and tastes great on snacks such as French fries and buttered popcorn. This culinary treat adds an earthy richness while enhancing flavor and leaving a truly lasting impression.
Lemon Rosemary Salt
If you want to add a quick, pleasing burst of flavor to your favorite foods, Lemon Rosemary Salt is a must-have for your kitchen. Pristine sea salt is infused with lemon, rosemary & garlic for the ultimate seasoning blend that’s perfect for salad, rice or potatoes, chicken, and much more.
Redmond Real SaltŪ
Found in a prehistoric salt deposit close to the small town of Redmond, Utah about 150 miles away from the Great Salt Lake, Redmond Real Salt® is an unrefined, natural gourmet food salt with a fascinating history. At the time of the earth's Jurassic period, a large sea covered the majority of what is now considered North America. Over time, this sea evaporated and left behind a vast deposit of salt in central Utah.
The unique pink appearance and specks of color originate from over 60 natural trace minerals found in the salt.