Types Of Salt
The different types of salt available on the market can be confusing for consumers. This article will outline the most common salts, including their uses and benefits. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make an informed decision when purchasing salt. Let’s get started!
What Is Salt?
Salt is produced through the evaporation of seawater or water from other sources, such as brine wells and salt lakes. The word “salt” originates from the fact that salt crystals have a taste similar to “salty sand.” Salt does not spoil easily, making it a very useful preservative for meat and other food items.
The Different Popular Types Of Salt And How To Use Them
1. Table salt
Fine-grain salt that is 99% pure sodium chloride. It comes in different-sized granules (coarseness) depending on use, but one common size is fine sea salt. Table salt should only be used when you want the resulting product to have a smooth taste without any crystals standing out against the tongue. It dissolves fast so you won’t get large chunks in your food if you measure it correctly.
2. Kosher salt
Large grain salt that is about 97% pure sodium chloride. Because the large grains take up more space, there is less salt in a teaspoon amount than table or fine sea salt. It has a stronger flavor to compensate for this disadvantage, but it also takes longer to dissolve. There are no standard measurements of how much you should use per unit of food (meat). Look at a recipe from a trusted source that uses kosher salt and follow those measurements instead of guessing how much you need with your own unit conversion.
3. Sea salt
Seawater has been evaporated by the sun’s heat until all that remains is sea salt crystals. Depending on where it comes from, these crystals can be white, black, red, pink, or even orange. The different types of sea salt have a stronger taste and a more unique flavor than table or kosher salt. Sea salt is not used for measuring into an ingredient because there isn’t a standard amount that you can put in compared to how much your dish will end up being. You should add it at the end as a finishing product so it stays crunchy on top of whatever you’re adding it to.
4. Condiment Salt
Condiment salt is the least salty of all the different types of salt because it’s mostly made of a filler like a dextrose or silica that has a little bit of sodium chloride stirred into it. To give it more flavor, manufacturers add an anti-caking agent and a lot of artificial flavoring. This means you can put out a large bowl without having to worry about people accidentally getting too much sodium from their meal, though there isn’t as much benefit unless you have many mouths to feed. It’s also called breeder salt.
5. Flavored Salt
Flavored salts are just that: different types of salt with flavors already mixed into them. Black truffle sea salt; lemon; smoked; there’s even maple bacon! Like condiment salts, these flavored salts come pre-measured for convenience (in case you don’t like math). You can buy a small jar of these for not much more than regular table salt, but it might be worth it for the fun factor.
6. Seasoning Salt
Seasoning salt is exactly what it sounds like: salt with other ingredients mixed in to give it a certain flavor. Oregano, onion powder, and garlic powder are common spices that seasoning salt will have in them. Instead of buying a jar of seasoning salt, you can make your own by mixing together a cup or so of kosher salt with the dried spices you want to use instead. Some pre-made seasonings include celery seed, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili pepper flakes, etc.
7. Pickling Salt
Pickling salt is just like regular kosher or granulated salt except that its larger crystals dissolve more quickly than cubes of normal salt which means your pickles will be crunchier if you put them in with pickling salt instead of kosher or table salt. Pickling salt also doesn’t contain any additives that could react with your food and change its color or flavor of it. You can even just use table salt if you don’t want to buy pickling salt, but you’ll get better results if you spend the extra money on it.
8. Flake Salt
Just as it sounds, flake salt is a type of rock salt that has been slowly melted by the sun and wind until its crystals have flattened out into a thin film. It’s more expensive than regular granulated salt because there are fewer flakes in a given container. However, the delicate shape means it melts away fast which can be an advantage or drawback depending on what you’re using it for. It also tastes stronger than table salt so you might want to use less of it when seasoning your food. If you buy sea salt instead of kosher or table salt, chances are good that you’ll end up with flake-shaped pieces rather than solid cubes or cylinders.
9. Iodized Salt
Iodized table salt is table salt that has had the chemical potassium iodide added to it . This is done to prevent iodine-deficient people from getting goiters and other thyroid problems. Most countries have salt programs where they mandate adding this nutrient so their citizens can remain healthy. There isn’t really a difference between iodized table salt and plain unless the iodized version is too expensive for you, but there’s also no reason not to use it if you’re buying table salt anyway.
11. Cyprus Black Lava Salt
Cyprus black lava salt is a type of flake sea salt that’s mixed with activated charcoal (the kind you might buy at the pet store to filter your fish tank) to make it stand out in a crowd. The charcoal doesn’t change the flavor of the salt because it’s just a very thin dusting, but it does change the color from clear, shiny flakes into something completely different. In fact, according to some sites, Cyprus black lava salt is just regular salt with food coloring added. There are other types that don’t have this extra step which means they’re more natural and healthier for you, but I can’t guarantee there isn’t any charcoal in those either since I’ve never tried them myself so buyer beware!
12. Himalayan Pink Salt
Himalayan pink salt isn’t technically a type of salt, but it’s often grouped in with the other salts you can buy. Unlike most kinds of salt, this one is mined from deep within the earth instead of being evaporated off saline water. Trace amounts of minerals are left behind after all the impurities are removed which gives it that lovely pink color and slightly sweet flavor. It won’t have any iodine added to it because that would destroy its natural structure so don’t rely on this if you’re an adult trying to avoid goiters.
13. Himalayan Black Salt
This is another form of Himalayan salt that’s mined and shaped into big, black lumps. Unlike the pink variety, this type isn’t actually pure salt and it doesn’t contain any extra minerals or nutrients. Instead, it gets its deep purple-black color from activated charcoal which gives it an extremely pungent smell and flavor. It’s used as a condiment in Asian cuisine like Thai cooking where they sprinkle it sparingly on top of their food to add a crunchy texture as well as taste.
14. Himalayan Crystal Salt
This is just like all the other types of Himalayan salt except that it has bigger crystals and more impurities which makes it look like grayish rock candy instead of the black chunks of other salts. It’s still not actually a type of salt, though, because substantial amounts of minerals aren’t leftover from the mining process. Some people swear by this form of Himalayan salt to counteract stress and improve their muscles, but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to back up any claims made about its health benefits.
15. Hawaiian Black Lava Salt
This salt is exactly what it sounds like! The main ingredient is sea salt that comes from the same place as the pink variety, but these particular crystals have been mixed with activated charcoal so they’re jet black in color instead of translucent gray. Like other types of flake salt, this one melts fast when it hits warm food so you might want to use it as a finishing touch rather than a foundation for your meals.
16. Indonesian Black Salt
This is officially called black salt because the crystals are jet black and it’s made from sea salt. It doesn’t have any charcoal mixed in with it, but it does have dried shrimp blended into the mix which gives it an intense flavor that some people love and others hate. There isn’t a staggering amount of iodine added to this type of salt, but since there’s no way to know how much gets absorbed by your body, use iodized table salt instead.
17. Celtic Sea Salt
Celtic sea salt is another grayish flake variety that gets its name from the area where it’s mined instead of any special ingredients. It’s made from sea water that comes from the coast of France, which is probably why it tastes a lot like French gray salt. There are other [less-expensive] brands of sea salt on the market these days, but this one might be worth the extra money because it doesn’t contain any additives and it has a lighter flavor than rock salt.
18. Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt
Kosher salt gets its name from the process used to purify it rather than anything special that happens to the crystals themselves. Basically, all salt starts out with large particles that get smaller and smaller as they travel through various machines until they become super-fine grains. This method can be used on any variety so even though there aren’t any minerals left over, it still pulls out impurities.
19. French Gray Salt
This salt is so expensive because it’s made specifically for high-quality restaurants and gourmet cooking. It gets its name from the color of the crystals which look like they’ve been dusted with ash, but there isn’t actually any ash in the mix. This type of salt doesn’t have added iodine, but since it’s derived from sea water then you can expect that most of what you eat will be absorbed into your system just like with other types.
20. Fleur De Sel
This French sea salt gets its name because it’s harvested by hand! That means that the process of getting the crystals is done completely by human power, which is probably why they’re so expensive. The biggest difference between this salt and other types is that Fleur de Sel has a higher concentration of minerals than regular table salt. It also tastes really good on just about anything, but keep in mind that it’s so salty that you usually only need to use half as much.
21. Curing Salt
This type of salt is also called pink salt, but that’s not the only reason it has a funny name. Curing salt is typically used to cure meats like pork, beef, fish, lamb, etc., which basically means that you rub it all over your choice of protein before you cook it so it’ll last longer. The reason why this works better than just using plain old table salt is because there are nitrates in curing salt which stop bacteria from growing on the foods.
22. Smoked Salt
Smoked salt seems like something you might use in a barbecue, but it’s actually more often used as a finishing touch when people are cooking steaks, hamburgers, chicken thighs, pork chops, etc. This type of salt is made by smoking sea salt or table salt over actual wood chips that have been soaked in water. The end result has such an intense flavor that most chefs only need to add it at the very end so the smoky taste will stay with the food for just a few moments.
23. Indian Black Salt
Black salt looks almost identical to Celtic gray sea salt because they’re both derived from sea water and get super-small grains during processing. But this type of Indian mineral salt gets its unique color from a bunch of different minerals that have been added to the mixture. It’s mostly used as a finishing touch on dishes, except in the north where it’s actually eaten instead.
24. Sale Di Cervia
This sea salt gets its name from the area where it’s mined since that’s what the people in that region call themselves. This type of mineral salt is actually mined in Italy, just like most other types of sea salt. Unfortunately, this one isn’t sold particularly cheap so if you’re looking for a deal then you might have to look elsewhere.
25. Rock Salt
This is the cheapest type of table salt you can buy and it’s probably what your mom kept in a jar on the kitchen counter. It gets its name from having large crystals that actually look like rocks, but don’t be fooled because those aren’t any kind of special minerals. The only reason this salt isn’t as processed as other types are because it’s made up almost entirely of sodium chloride, which means that most people won’t absorb any extra minerals when they eat it.
26. Himalayan Pink Rock Salt
Himalayan pink salt is actually formed from ancient sea beds instead of the water of today! That means it comes out of the ground with more minerals than if you were to just melt down regular table salt. This type of mineral salt still isn’t exactly healthy for you because it’s high in sodium, but there are some things that have been said about this gourmet cooking ingredient that might surprise you.
27. Celtic Grey Sea Salt
Celtic grey sea salt has all kinds of benefits that most other salts don’t have, which is probably why they’re so expensive. First off, it comes from an area where the air quality is very low which makes the crystals super-pure! But at the same time, there are tons of natural minerals in the salt that come from sea water too. Both of these facts mean that a little bit of this type of mineral salt will actually go a long way to curing meats like beef, pork, fish, etc.
Salt As a Food Flavor Enhancer
Salt is one of the oldest known seasonings used in cooking and also one of the simplest to obtain. Most people use it as a flavor enhancer, rather than using specific herbs or spices. Different types of salt provide their own flavors depending on the mineral content they contain before processing as well as where they were obtained from after processing (e.g., sea salt vs. Himalayan pink salt).
At least 83 percent of the world’s table salt is produced in the United States, Canada, and Europe, where it is found in a variety of different salts. Salt is mostly used for food production; however, it can be found in many other products such as soap, deodorants, and cosmetics.
Salt also has some preservative qualities when added to foods that are high in moisture content (e.g., meats). When mixed with water (a natural byproduct when adding salt to prepared meat), salt helps draw out more moisture from these types of food items by osmosis. This enhances the flavor of the meat while inhibiting microbial growth.
Salt Can Be Used For More Than Just Food
Salt can be used for more than just keeping meat fresh longer. The ancient Greeks used salt to relieve swelling in wounds, and the ancient Egyptians used it as a medication for eye infections. Salt is still an important part of modern medicine today, although in much smaller amounts. It is also used in water softeners, where it exchanges sodium ions for other minerals in hard water.
The mineral magnesium chloride can be produced using salt water that has been heated by solar energy. This type of renewable energy could potentially provide isolated communities with clean drinking water if they are able to harvest their saltwater.
Magnesium chloride derived from saltwater could also potentially replace asphalt, providing durable roads without adding significantly to greenhouse gas emissions when compared to traditional asphalt roadways.
Salt is also used to create chlorine, which is further processed into sodium hypochlorite. This chemical compound is used to disinfect public swimming pools and drinking water, but it can be harmful when improperly handled.
Cooking with Salt
Salt is one of the most popular condiments in the world. Salt’s popularity dates all the way back to prehistoric times, where it was a vital tool for both hunting and trade. Today, salt is still a vital ingredient in our food preparation. Food scientists have found that there are certain foods that do not taste good without salt while others simply cannot be made without it. Furthermore, cooking with salt can add unique flavors to many standard dishes or ingredients other than just adding sodium content. In general, salt acts as a flavor enhancer when it comes to cooking. But why does salt make food taste better?
How Salt Enhances Flavor?
In order to understand how salt makes food delicious, we must first understand what our taste buds are and how they work. First, we must understand that our taste buds can be divided into different categories: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. When we eat food that contains certain tastes or flavors, our brain picks up on this and sets off a chain reaction. Our brain sends signals to the rest of our body so other organs such as stomachs can begin digesting what we just ate. The taste buds in the tongue send these signals by sending out specific chemical neurotransmitters based on what foods/flavors were eaten.
The tongue only has four basic areas (besides the small bumps) where we actually sense tastes. These areas are called fungiform papillae. Each of these four taste regions houses a different type of taste bud (sweet, sour, salty, and bitter). When salt is consumed it is sensed by the tongue in the sodium chloride (NaCl) taste buds that are housed within these regions rather than having its own specific region on the tongue. For example, when people say they like the “salty” flavor of food instead of saying they like food with sodium chloride flavors, this is probably because most foods with high salt content do not have distinct flavors other than just saltiness. This can be compared to how sourness is detected; there currently isn’t a “sour” area on the tongue itself; thus all sour tasting foods will tickle all different areas on the tongue. This is why salt adds flavor to food and not just sodium content that other ingredients such as potassium chloride would provide. Saltiness triggers specific receptors inside your taste buds which then send signals to your brain that the food you just ate is delicious.
Salt has been used as a condiment for thousands of years because it enhances flavors and makes food more desirable, especially in dishes that are otherwise very bland or have little-to-no flavor. Think about how good salty chips, pretzels, popcorn, etc. taste compared to how many of them seem mild or bland at times. The reason why these tasty snacks are so enjoyable is because salt enhances flavors by triggering the right chemical neurotransmitters in your taste buds. Salt also helps other ingredients to “come alive” by making them more savory and tasty.
The history of salt can be traced back to the prehistoric times when humans used it for both hunting and trading purposes. This is because salt was very valuable at that time due to how vital it was for human survival. As far as cooking with salt goes, there are many reasons why chefs use this ingredient besides just enhancing flavors. One important reason is because salt will change the texture of certain ingredients such as meats, vegetables, sauces, etc. For example, salting meat right before cooking will allow moisture to escape which then causes the meat’s fibers to up. This then makes the meat easier to chew along with making the meat more flavorful due to how it is cooked. Salting vegetables will cause them to become slightly limp or wilted, whereas salting sauces will thicken them.
Salt also has many other uses in cuisine other than just enhancing flavor and changing textures. Salt can be used as a preservative for meats by drawing out moisture which then blocks the growth of certain microorganisms that are responsible for spoiling food. For example, salt is an important ingredient in curing bacon because it allows sodium nitrates (which are antibacterial) to dissolve into the ingredients providing added flavor while also inhibiting bacterial growth. The same goes for sausages; salt helps make sausages last longer by inhibiting bacterial growth. Salt can even help caramelize certain foods such as onions that contain large amounts of sugars.
Salt is often used in recipes that call for some type of liquid to be added (usually water, stock, or wine) and then brought up to a boiling temperature before the main ingredients are added and cooked with it. This is because salt will cause the ingredients to release their flavors into the liquid more quickly thus giving them more time to mix together. The same concept applies when using all types of salty liquids such as broths, buttermilk, etc.; adding salt not only enhances their flavors, but also helps release other flavors within them. Salt can also add flavor to dry ingredients if they are rubbed into meats or vegetables before cooking. Salt isn’t just used in savory dishes either, but some sweet baked goods call for salt as well. This is because it can help balance the sweetness of some ingredients along with adding flavor.
Functions of Salt in Food
Salt has some very important functions in foods, these are briefly described below with reference to table salt (odium chloride). It is interesting to note that at high concentrations, salt is toxic to many organisms. In fact the toxicity of salt for plants and plant parts is a common method of herbicidal application. It can also be poisonous to humans if taken in excess quantities which result in hypernatremia. This may happen as a result of excessive water loss due to extreme conditions such as prolonged severe exercise or exposure to hot environment without replacement of fluids.
Water Balance: Salt has a major impact on the water content of food products from its contribution toward osmotic pressure differences between cells and interstitial fluid, moisture migration through food matrices, and vapor pressures above solid foods during heating processes.
Texture: Salt affects texture by controlling the total soluble solids, viscosity, emulsification, gelatinization temperature of starches in processed foods. This is significant when the food being made needs to have a given texture or mouthfeel. The effectiveness of salt in this sense depends on its chemical form and interaction with other ingredients. For example, when making yeast-raised baked goods such as breads and cakes, the solubility of salt is an issue because it has to dissolve completely in water before it can interact with the yeast cells which are already dissolved in the dough mixture. With time passing by however, many flavor compounds are created which make bakery products taste sweeter or more interesting.
Flavor Enhancer: Salt enhances tastes mainly due to its ability to decrease bitterness while enhancing the overall palatability of foods or beverages. Salt can enhance sweet flavors by reducing the bitterness of certain compounds like caffeine, while compound like sucrose gives salt a synergistic effect to make food sweeter. Salt can also enhance sour flavors due to an increase in the pH value which increases the acidity of foods; this makes salty food taste less sour than unsalted ones.
Preservative: Salt is used as a preservative because it reduces microbial growth and acts as an antimicrobial agent (bacteriostatic) in some foods such as meats that are subject to bacterial spoilage during storage. The sodium ion itself has no bactericidal action, but when present at high concentration it competes with chloride ions from microbial cytoplasmic membranes to disrupt the osmotic equilibrium. This means it would be difficult for water to flow in and out of the cytoplasms, thus preventing microbial growth.
Aromatic Compounds Production: Salt has a very important impact on the production of aromatic compounds in foods which are generally responsible for a product’s flavor. During fermentation processes carried out by salt-tolerant lactic acid bacteria, specific volatile compounds such as diacetyl, 2-methylbutanal, acetaldehyde, isoamyl alcohols were produced from sugars present in milk or fruit juices. The slow movement of salt ions through bacterial membranes is regarded as one major cause of reduced cellular function during fermentation processes. In addition to this, salt reduces the pH of the medium to 4.0-4.5 which causes increased activity of exogenous esterase enzymes that are produced by certain lactic acid bacteria like Leuconostoc citrovorum and Lactobacillus hilgardii . These enzymes would then increase flavor formation during food fermentations.
Flavor Enhancement: Salt has a strong impact on flavor due to its chemical composition (anionic component) that increases intensity and quality of flavors especially when it is allowed to dissolve in foods over time (aging process). This also explains why a dish tastes better when you add a little bit of salt at a time while cooking because this will allow enough time for salt ions to penetrate into the food. Salt ions act as a vehicle to deliver flavors but it would be tasteless without the accompanying ingredient (i.e meat or fish).
Water Activity: Salt decreases the water activity of foods which limits microbial growth and deterioration, thus increasing shelf life of certain products like meats. This can be explained by the fact that salt reduces moisture in food through dehydration; this consequently lowers the vapor pressure inside a food system for water molecules to diffuse into (more specifically, into cell cytoplasm) . It is also important to note that lower water activity values cause less energy to be available for microbial growth among other things that affect spoilage rates such as pH level and Aw-water activity product In addition, salt increases overall freezing point depression (i.e freezing point is not reached as easily due to the presence of solutes), and this will be especially useful when you need to store ice cream which normally has a very low water activity level.
Salt is one of the most commonly used ingredients in cooking. It’s also pretty cheap, making it an easy ingredient to stock up on and experiment with. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there or just want some guidance, here are a few different types of salt that every cook should know about. This will help you find your perfect match for any dish!