“a wise woman puts a grain of sugar in everything she says to a man, and takes a grain of salt with everything he says to her.” ~Helen Rowland
Many out there extol the benefits of salt, particularly sea salt. Himalayan Sea Salt has been all the rage in recent years. In addition to that, there are myriad other salts out there, flavored and unflavored, and in all sorts of colors.
I’m going to be honest here: I don’t have any idea about whether the healing claims regarding the various salts are true or just some made up propaganda to raise the prices and entice us to buy more salt. It may be a bit of both. There are many studies out there which make claims one way or another, but I have yet to find one that convinces me completely on either side. You are welcome to form your own conclusions on that front.
When using salts in cooking I’ll admit I don’t see any difference taste-wise in the final result, or at least not with unflavored salts. There is certainly a noticeable difference when a dish is lacking in salt, but as to being able to tell the finer nuances between the various salts when cooking with them, well, my senses must not be sophisticated enough for that. I do notice a taste difference when sprinkling salt on a dish just before serving. Perhaps it is not a true sensing of flavors. Maybe what I notice are the colors or the scents wafting from the flavored salts. It may all be a trick of the senses.
Nonetheless, I am hooked…
They say the first step is to admit you have a problem. Well, then here goes…
“I am a salt addict.”
I have numerous salts that I have gathered both locally and throughout my travels. If there is such a thing as a ‘salt hoarder’ my picture would appear in the definition. I have the aforementioned healing Himalayan Sea Salt (in crystal form, of course). I have your basic sea salt -fine AND coarse – and Kosher salt. A good friend brought me back a Mexican sea salt from her recent visit there. I have an unrefined Sicilian sea salt and Sal de Ibiza from my last visit to Spain.
Then there is my container of black sea salt flakes – the activated charcoal gives it that rich, black color. Finally, tucked away in my spice cabinet you will find a Celtic Gray Salt…
Ah, but there’s more! Those were only my ‘plain’ salts. Several flavored versions grace my counter alongside the unflavored ones, ready to perk up my favorite meals…
There are not one but TWO black truffle infused sea salts by my cooktop, one bought in London at the Borough Market; the other from Orvieto in Italy (because it slipped my mind that I already had the other truffle salt – see why I call myself a salt hoarder??). I have red wine sea salt, Fleur De Sel sea salt with Seaweed, and finally, Hickory-smoked sea salt flakes.
The one salt I do not have is just regular old iodized salt (i.e. Morton’s). I really do notice a flavor difference there. I used to keep some around for baking because I heard it was better for the final product. Yet after running out once and substituting my everyday fine sea salt (from La Baleine – it’s the one that comes in the round blue container), I noticed no difference at all. So I stopped buying it and have not looked back!
This brings me to one of my favorite ways to enjoy my salts: sprinkled on unsalted butter, which is then spread on slices of the best bread I can find. Heaven!
If you have a favorite salt I’d love to hear about it!
2 thoughts on “The [Sea] Salt of Life – specialty salts”
My spouse does the cooking, and he has a number of salts in his cooking arsenal. He says “They have different purposes”. One favorite salt is coarse red Hawaiian salt for putting a little bit of a crust on BBQ meat. Himalayan pink salt “isn’t quite as salty as refined salt” and can keep moisture in the meat better than, say, sea salt. He also uses truffle flavored salt. There is also a Murray River salt from Australia that dissolves quickly, and is good in an oil based dressing.