Salt

All salts are not the same.

Salt is a mineral, sodium chloride that comes from the sea. Even the salt we mine from the ground, originated from oceans that have evaporated and buried eons ago. How the salt is processed defines the type of salt it is. Each type of salt will have a distinctive taste depending on its processing and where the salt originated, (McGee, Harold, On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of The Kitchen 2004).

I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt as my all purpose salt in my cooking and baking. I have discovered that not all Kosher salt brands are alike. Some brands are flaky, some are granular: the size of the crystals changes from brand to brand as well. Size and density of each salt granule will affect the weight and volume; therefore I only use one brand. Diamond Crystal Kosher salt was the only brand that was first made available to me at my local grocery store. Over time I have stuck with it because I prefer the size and shape of the crystals. With the smaller size crystals I believe I have more control sprinkling the salt on the food. Use what brand you have and if you are not sure how it compares to the salt in the recipe, start with a little less. You can and add more salt later in the recipe.

I prefer Kosher salt to table salt because of the flavor. Kosher salt does not have additives in it and I believe has a cleaner taste. I also use less salt cooking with kosher salt. The weight of a teaspoon of table salt is not equal to the weight of a teaspoon of Kosher salt or a teaspoon of sea salt. A teaspoon of table salt weights 6 grams. Whereas a teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt weights 3 grams and a teaspoon of Maldon sea salt weights 4 grams. If you are interested in using less salt in your diet, you can start by replacing table salt with Kosher salt or sea salt as your all purpose salt.

When I use sea salt in a recipe, I use Maldon sea salt. I can get it easily and at a decent price, some sea salts are very expensive. I like the flavor and the flaky crystals. I am not a fan of sea salt crystals that are chunky and more like rock salt. The granules are too big and have a very concentrated dominating salt taste.

If Kosher salt is specified and you only have table salt, use half of the specified amount of salt in the recipe. Little by little you can add salt throughout the cooking process to suit your taste. This is only necessary to do if the recipe gives ingredient amounts in volume (teaspoon, tablespoon). If a recipe provides the weight, usually in grams, for the amount of Kosher salt, you should use the same amount in weight for table salt or sea salt. Salt is a great seasoning and is important to the flavor development in a recipe. Too much salt can ruin your meal, not to mention your spirits, if your food tastes like a gigantic salt lick.

Salt is used with food and cooking as a seasoning, as a flavor and as a cure. When salt is used as a seasoning, its primary purpose is to bring out the unique flavors of all the ingredients in the recipe. The roast chicken will have more depth of flavor, chocolate chip cookies will sing to you, and the blanched green beans will be green, bright and fresh. You should not taste the salt in the food when it is used as a seasoning. If you taste salt that means you have added too much for the recipe.

When salt is used as a flavor you will taste the salt as a distinct characteristic of the prepared food. The taste and/or crunch of salt is required to achieve the desired flavor and texture: such as sea salt sprinkled on dark chocolate truffles, salt sprinkled on french fries, or salty pretzels.

When salt is used as a cure the salt changes the food and preserves it. Cucumbers become pickled and salmon turns to gravlax.

Special curing salts are used to cure meats and should not be confused with, and used as regular kitchen salts. Curing salts have additives (nitrates and nitrites) to prevent the growth of bacteria and preserve color, (McGee, Harold, Keys to Good Cooking, 2010).

© 2016, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply