No spice rack is complete without salt. But there are so many kinds: processed salt, sea salt, table salt, himalayan salt, and so on. How are you supposed to figure which’ll suit your palate?
Well, it’s important to know what features to consider when purchasing salt. Find out where it’s from, how it tastes, what it costs, what’s inside, and what people have said about it. Then flip through your recipe book, and figure out just how you use salt.
Types of Salt
A good salt is more than just salty. It can be bitter, sour, or even sweet. So first, ask your taste buds what they like.
Differences in the Base Ingredients
Salt is divided into two categories: sea salt and rock salt. Surprisingly, one is actually saltier than the other.
Sea Salt Has More Minerals Than Rock Salt
Sea salt comes from seawater; oftentimes, it’s dried in the sun, and then boiled down to make salt. Salt that’s produced this way has more minerals in it than rock salt. Coastal states like California and New York abound in sea salt, as the ocean is a stone’s throw away.
Rock Salt is Saltier Than Sea Salt
A long time ago, inland seas meandered through the world. The sun beat down on these inland seas during dry spells in our geological history; the water evaporated; and the salt crystallized, forming salt deposits. Now, we mine these salt crystals, heat them up, and extract rock salt.
Rock salt contains more sodium than sea salt, so it’s often described as saltier. The color and taste changes depending on where it was mined. In iron-rich areas, the salt has a light blush.
Differences in the Way It’s Made
The production method also determines the kind of salt you get. There are three general categories: sun-dried, processed salt, and table salt. The biggest difference? Nutrients.
The Most Nutritious: Sun-Dried Salt
To make sun-dried salt, you pump water from the sea and dry it under the heat of the sun or by the force of the wind. Since there’s no extra heat added to it, you don’t lose any minerals like sodium chloride, calcium, or magnesium. So, out of the three, this one will have the most nutrients.
Nutrients Added After It’s Been Baked: Processed Salt
Processed salt is made by pumping seawater into the factory and heating it there. This makes it lose a lot of vitamins and leaves it a bit bitter. The bitterness is then offset by adding nutrients back into it.
On a basic level, manufacturers make processed salt because it looks whiter. And to a consumer, whiter means purer. But there’s another, more altruistic reason: if if the salt was harvested from a polluted area, they need to bake the toxins out of the salt–and the minerals are taken as collateral. So refined salt doesn’t just look cleaner; it actually is cleaner.
The Most Common: Table Salt
Table salt is the kind that lines supermarket aisles. After washing the sun-dried salt with brine, it’s refined. Unlike with processed salt, the manufacturers don’t add in the nutrients that were baked out back in. The packaging will say that Sodium Chloride is 99% of the salt. This one has the lowest nutritional value of the three.
How to Choose a Salt – Buying Guide
Depending on what you’ve got jotted down in your recipe book, you’re going to want either sea salt or rock salt. Below are several kinds of home-made dishes and the recommended salt to go with it.
How to Use Sea Salt
Here are some uncommon, multi-cultural ways to use sea salt.
Salt Can Make Fruit Sweeter
In Japan, you might see people sprinkling salt over watermelon. It adds sweetness and a new dimension of flavor–before you turn up your nose, think: we basically do the same thing when we throw a pinch of salt into the cookie batter. Sea salt can also enhance fruit mix powders.
Salt for Drying Vegetables
If you’ve got to suck water out of a vegetable, use sea salt. It’ll absorb water, without leaving your cucumbers tasting like pickles.
Salt Can Be Used to Prevent Discoloration
You wander over to the fridge to get out that bowl of guacamole, that plate of apples. You pull open the door–and find yourself face to face with brown mush. Here’s a trick: next time, sprinkle sea salt over food before serving. Not only will it enhance flavor, but also it’ll keep the colors fresh as spring.
Sea salt will keep heat from scorching the fish–and make sure it doesn’t just crumble in the pan. As you’re drying out your latest catch, sprinkle some on to draw out natural flavor. It’ll also get rid of that nauseating fish smell.
Rock Salt for Big Flavor
Rock salt is saltier, so it’s often mixed with black pepper or rosemary, then used to season chicken or beef. Add some to pork, and it’ll get rid of gaminess and harsh meat tones. If you are making focaccia for Italian dinner night, adding some rock salt with olive oil can make the dish sing.
Natural Salt for Beauty Spa Treatments
You want to pamper yourself? Use natural salt–none of that refined stuff. Add some in your bath to promote blood flow, increase metabolism, and relax your muscles. It’ll also soften keratin and remove dirt. Soak yourself in some salty hot water; massage any rough patches; come out with soft, glowing skin.
A word of warning though: salt can be rough, so go for finer grains. Don’t scrub yourself with it, and keep these treatments to once a week.
Top 10 Best Salts to Buy Online
Here are the top 10 salt products we recommend. As you scroll through–think about where you need a little salt in your life.
10. La Baleine Sea Salt
Mediterranean Salt That Gives a Boost to Both Texture and Flavor
This 100% natural sea salt is made in France. It comes straight from their Mediterranean factory and has a cult following. The salt comes in flakes for a little boost of texture and flavor, right when you plate your dish.
Customers rave about the size of the flakes–it’s perfect for salting ham or pork belly. However, this salt isn’t meant for baths, so if you’re looking something multipurpose, keep reading. This salt does go great with balsamic vingear, truffles, Wagyu steaks, and even cheese.
9. Selezione Truffle Salt
Unique Sea Salt with a Unique Taste
This one is sure to please gourmet and aspiring chefs alike. Mixed with 10% black truffle, it’s a great way to get that truffle taste without going bankrupt. The salt comes from Italy, and is your standard sea salt.
It can be used to enhance a number of dishes–ranging from egg-based to pasta-based. Sprinkle it over buttered popcorn. Reviewers insist that this mixture is perfect, and that the black truffles don’t overpower the salt. They work together in harmony.
8. Fleur de Sel de Guerande Sea Salt
For Fleur de Sel That Comes in a Pinkish Shade
Fleur de Sel is a special kind of sea salt. It’s harvested from young salt crystals that form on the top of sea salt farms. And it can only be harvested during the hottest months of the year.
In case the name hasn’t made it obvious, Fleur de Sel is French. It has a pinkish grey coloring. It comes in small flaky crystals and works great as a final touch. It’s best with raw vegetables and salads. It also works well with grilled meats and fish. Being a natural sea salt, it’s packed with quite a bit of minerals and is healthy.
7. Morton Table Salt
The Classic Brand Name from Your Childhood
Morton is the America’s iconic table salt. For many, this brand was the only one around the house growing up–so if you’re the nostalgic type, you can’t go wrong with Morton. It is a table salt, which means it’s missing those trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Interestingly enough, loads of people also use Morton to fill the plastic salt guns used to kill insects in the garden. For some reason. The grains are fine; it’s been consumed for years and is definitely safe. And, as one five-star review put it, “Salt is salt.”
6. The Spice Lab Pink Himalayan Salt
For When You Want a Himalayan Salt That Won’t Break the Bank
Himalayan salt is a special subset of rock salt and has multiple purposes. It can be used as a healthy spice alternative, since it contains trace amounts of 84 vitamins and minerals. You can add it to your bath, where it’ll suck the toxins from your body and lower blood pressure.
Then, after your bath, bring the salt into the kitchen and use it for pasta, salads, meats, and fish. Bakers use it to enhance their breads and pastries. And, just as an extra bonus, it’s a lovely shade of light pink.
5. McCormick Sea Salt with Grinder
Great Sea Salt That Comes with Its Own Grinder
When it comes to spices, McCormick’s a powerful name brand among American households. What makes this sea salt special is that the bottle comes with a grinder. The sodium level is comparable to that of table salt. It’s harvested from the French Mediterranean coast.
It has a higher concentration of minerals then your standard table salt. So if you want to start eating healthier at home with a brand you trust, this is your salt. With the right tools, you can also pop open the bottle and refill it with other whole spices for all your grinding needs.
4. Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
High Quality Sea Salt Flakes at a Reasonable Price
Maldon is a fan favorite. Harvested from the Essex sea coast, these sea salt flakes add texture to your bread and meat dishes. It’s not bitter–just wonderful, clean, and fresh. Perfect for dishes that already shine on their own.
This product also has all the nutrients and minerals you’d expect from a natural salt. You can’t dump it in your tub, but you can use it dry out meats. At the price listed above, you get 8.5 ounces, which is great for the quality.
3. Celtic Sea Salt
Kosher Certified Salt From the Coast of France
This salt comes with trace amounts of 80 vitamins and minerals. It’s a natural sea salt that’s been finely ground. It’s Kosher certified and perfect for pickling or finishing dishes.
Because it’s so fine and healthy, it’s perfect for baking and grilling. And, yes, the name says Celtic–specifically, it’s from the coast of France. Celtic Sea Salt offers a variety of different salts, so if this doesn’t fits your needs perfectly, check out the other kinds too.
2. San Francisco Salt Company’s Fleur de Sel
An Amazing Salt for Yourself or As a Gift to a Loved One
This Fleur de Sel is a bit different from the one we talked about earlier. First, it comes with a cute wooden spoon, so you can measure out the perfect scoop. Second, look at that beautiful white color. The other one had a grey and pink shade to it, which doesn’t blend well with certain palettes.
This Fleur de Sel is certified as Kosher, and by a French agency (Nature & Progrés institute) for purity and excellence. And since the bottle is so cute, it makes a great gift. While you shouldn’t bathe in it, give it to your boyfriend, girlfriend, or novice cook friend.
1. San Francisco Salt Co’s Sherpa Pink Himalayan Salt
A Fabulous Two in One Salt That is Healthy and Tasty
Sherpa Pink Himalayan Salt is a very popular brand–and for good reason. It’s lovely with grilled veggies and meat and enriches your baked goods. It doesn’t just have trace amounts of vitamins and minerals; it’s packed with them. And you can dump this one in your tub. It’ll smooth out your skin and ease away the pain.
If you do use it for a bath, pour in a pound of it, and give it a bit of time to dissolve before getting in. If you’re looking for health, taste, and relaxation, then this salt’s got you covered.
For the aspiring chef, the sore athlete, the grill master at family barbecues–we’ve introduced a bunch of different salts for a bunch of different people. When you pick one, think again about what you want the salt for.
A final word of advice: if you are using a kind of salt for the first time, go for one that has a customer satisfaction guarantee. That way you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain (in the world of salt).