Get ready to add new flavor to your meals with just a pinch of these different types of salt. Step away from the same boring choice in your cooking and dive into the sophisticated realm of gourmet salt from all over the world.
This post is sponsored by my favorite place to buy salt, Mountain Rose Herbs. All opinions are my own.
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Gourmet Salt: More than just table salt
I love all the subtle nuances salt can bring to the culinary experience. From sweet to savory dishes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, salt has an important role in flavor, appearance, and even texture.
My attention first turned to salt when I started a keto diet because electrolyte supplementation is essential in keto, and salt has a key role in that. Using salt correctly helped me have an easy keto adaptation and avoid keto flu.
You might think that all salt is interchangeable. After all, salt is salt, right?
Dig a little deeper, and you’ll soon learn noticeable differences in flavor, appearance, texture, and mineral content. Initially, I felt skeptical that salt could make that much difference, but I was wrong!
A guide to different types of salt for cooking
Salt is a fundamental ingredient in cooking that adds flavor, enhances taste and brings out the best in our dishes. However, not all salt is created equal.
There are various types of salt, each with unique qualities and specific purposes, not to mention history and cultural significance. Let’s explore the different types of salt commonly used in cooking and some new ones you probably haven’t heard of before.
Sea salt is typically derived through solar evaporation of seawater. Sea salt comes in fine or coarse grounds and can taste slightly more potent than table salt.
Like table salt, you can use sea salt to season your food. Finely ground salt is best for bulletproof tea and baking because it won’t leave an undesirable gritting texture.
However, medium to coarse crystals are ideal for decorating the rim of a margarita glass, preserving homemade pancetta and garnishing brownies.
Since this type of salt is low in moisture, it is the ideal ingredient for homemade herbal salt and seasoning blends. I also use it in homemade beauty products, like toothpaste and body scrub, because it’s an all-purpose ingredient.
Buying it in a shaker bottle makes it easy to season at the table or during cooking. However you like to add it, I won’t be surprised if the bottle goes fast because it’s good on almost everything.
This smoky salt is often used as a finishing salt, sprinkled on dishes just before serving to add an extra layer of flavor. Grilled meats and savory dinner dishes benefit most from it, while it’s not recommended for desserts. You can press it into the tops of dinner rolls just before baking or add an extra layer of smoky flavor for homemade smoked salmon.
Cyprus flake salt is by far my favorite decorative salt. It has a wonderfully light flavor and delicate crunchy texture, making it ideal for finishing sweet and savory dishes. Add it to anything from salads and roasted vegetables to your favorite chocolate chip cookie.
The unique pyramid shape forms through a very technical evaporation process that may take up to two years per batch to complete. Next time you want to make your food look and taste extra special, give flake salt a try.
Red Alaea salt is a unique type of salt that originates from Hawaii. It gets its name from the reddish color it possesses, which comes from the special volcanic clay known as Alaea.
Sought after for its ability to enhance the flavor and presentation of various dishes, this salt is a common choice for seasoning meats and finishing desserts. I particularly love it on frosted cupcakes because it creates a stunning contrast.
French grey sea salt is harvested from the Atlantic Ocean and is known for its gray color and coarse texture. Some people say it has a more robust flavor than regular table salt and enjoy using it as their everyday salt. Add pizzazz to staples like beef stew or sprinkle it on top of popcorn.
Black lava salt is a unique type of salt infused with activated charcoal. This salt brings pop to a recipe but has quite a muted flavor. I usually use a bit of sea salt for taste and then add black salt to increase the visual appeal. It’s delicious on avocados, fried eggs, and salmon burgers.
Gourmet types of salt like this one make great gifts. Laura Sampson from Little House Big Alaska comments, “One of our sons brought us black lava salt from a Hawaiian salt master, and it adds a nice flavor and pop of color to grilled steaks or vegetables.”
Yet another colorful salt, Himalayan pink salt, adds visual appeal and varied mineral content to a recipe. With a mild flavor, this is suitable for daily use on favorites like roasted parsnips, marinade and stir-fry. It has a long-standing role in local culture as a natural food preservation and trade product.
Large salt crystals are sold in refillable grinders, so keeping them on the table for easy access is easy. My kids love the task of seasoning with freshly ground salt and pepper. It’s an entertaining highlight for the whole family.
Pink salt may be one of the most well-known specialty salts, however, not all pink salt is created equal. Low-end salts are exported under toxic labor conditions and often have environmental contamination that may be doing more harm to your health than good.
To be honest, I wouldn’t recommend any pink salt other than the one from Mountain Rose Herbs. Their salt is exemplary and harvested from ancient sea salt deposits, extracted “by hand, according to long-standing tradition, and without using mechanical devices or dynamite techniques. After being hand-selected, the salt is then hand-crushed, hand-washed, and dried in the sun.”
These are some of the most popular different types of salt you can use in your cooking. From table salt to pink salt, each one has its unique taste and uses. Having all these salts on your spice shelf is fun, so you can pick and choose which one you want under different circumstances.
Sometimes, you can substitute one type of salt for another without major consequences. Finding the best salt for cooking will depend on the specific application. Some are best for adding smoky flavor, while others lend a touch of sweetness, and still others are more eye-catching than anything else.
Set aside some time for experimenting with the selection covered here until you know what you like best. Next time you’re in the kitchen, grab the right salt and add a little pinch for a big impact.
This article was originally published on March 29, 2018.