Do This: Salts You Should Own {and Why You Should Care}


Photo credit: James Ransom for Food52

Anyone who has been in my kitchen knows I’m crazy about salt {I love it so much that it was actually the topic of my Best woMan’s speech at my brother’s wedding — strange I know}. I have salts from all over the world, in pretty much every shape and color, and get great joy in treating salt as its own special ingredient. Whether seasoning a big roast with coarse sel gris or sprinkling light, flaky Maldon salt over my morning eggs, various salts impact every dish differently and I want to open your world to a pantry beyond the yellow umbrella-carrying lady. Salt is an ingredient in almost every dish we eat — so listen up!

We Put Salt on Almost Everything We Eat — So Shouldn’t You Care Just as Much About the Salt You Use, as You Do About Where Your Vegetables Come From?
We often take salt for granted as it’s seemingly so simple and abundant. Heck, it’s even on every restaurant table for “free.” But from the beginning of civilization until only about 100 years ago, it was one of the most sought-after and valuable commodities in human history. Salt has played a critical role in enabling us to preserve food, enter into trade {it’s the root of the word salary} and has even played a role in love & war. Salt is an indispensable ingredient to every dish we eat. It’s in our blood, tears, sweat and almost every part of the human body. Without it, we literally can’t live. So why do we limit the seasoning of our food to regular manufactured iodized table or kosher salt?

The Math Behind Artisan Salts
There’s a starter collection you can get from The Meadow Here. Assume these artisan salt collections each last you at least a year {will probably last a lot longer — a little pinch will do ya}.

Collection of 6 Artisan Salts:
$66 / 12 months = $5 / month = $0.18 / day = $0.06 per meal.  

Not bad when you consider how much you spend on every other ingredient you eat and cook with. And salt will never go bad. Isn’t it worth the $0.06 investment for beautiful grains that will add flare and flavor to each each dish? This is a question only you can answer as you start to experiment with different salts and different uses {The Meadow will also send a cheat sheet to guide you through each variety}.

Seasonal Salts

Photo Credit: James Ransom for Food52

10 Salts Defined {Courtesy of Food52}

Table Salt: Refined salt mined from underground salt deposits, table salt contains more sodium chloride (97% to 99%) than sea salt. This is what you usually find in salt shakers at dining tables and at restaurants. Most table salts contain additives such as anticaking agents and iodine, an essential nutrient.

Kosher Salt: Kosher salt, which originates from either the sea or the earth, is so named for its use in the preparation of meat according to Jewish dietary guidelines. However, not all Kosher salt is certified Kosher. Kosher salt dissolves easily and quickly, making it a good all-purpose salt. Popular brands include Morton and Diamond Crystal.

Sel Gris: Harvested from salt evaporation ponds, sel gris — “grey salt” in French — is also known as Celtic sea salt and is a coarse sea salt that is raked once salt crystals have sunk to the bottom of the ponds. Moist, granular, and chunky, sel gris is used as both a cooking salt and finishing salt. While it’s ideal for fatty meats and roasted root vegetables, Mark Bitterman also suggests using this mineral-rich salt in baking. Try it in a rustic tart crust, for instance.

Gros Sel: Another sea salt, gros sel is made up of large-grained crystals — hence its name in French, “large salt.” Keep it in a salt grinder for freshly ground sea salt, use it to create a salt crust on meat or fish, or use it to season pasta water.

Flake Salt: Produced by boiling or evaporating brine, flake salts have varying crystal structures and lower trace mineral content than other salts, including fleur de sel and sel gris. Used as a finishing salt for fresh foods such as salads, flake salt pops, giving a pleasant crunch to every bite.

Fleur de Sel: Hand-harvested from the same salt evaporation ponds as sel gris, this sea salt is collected by scraping salt crystals from the water’s surface before the crystals sink to the bottom of the evaporation ponds. Fleur de sel — “flower of salt” in French — is traditionally, though not exclusively, harvested in Guérande, Brittany. The delicate, irregular crystals gently dissolve, making it a great finishing salt. Try it on fish, pork and vegetables. If you can afford it, Bitterman suggests using fleur de sel as your go-to all-purpose cooking salt.

Hawaiian Sea Salt: This fine or coarse grained sea salt can be either red or black. Red Hawaiian sea salt gets its color from a natural mineral called Alaea, a volcanic baked red clay, while black Hawaiian sea salt gets its color from the addition of charcoal. Full of trace minerals, Hawaiian sea salt complements pork, seafood, ceviche and more.

Smoked Salt: This salt is slow-smoked over a wood fire to infuse the crystals with a deep, smokey flavor, making it ideal for grilled meats and heartier vegetables such as potatoes.

Seasoned Salt: Salt can be seasoned with a variety of different flavorings, including truffles, lemon, herbs and more. Truffles impart an earthiness to sea salt, making it an ideal flavoring for risottos, red meats, and egg dishes. A seasoned salt such as lemon flake salt, on the other hand, is great for cocktails or grilled vegetables.

Himalayan Salt: Hand-mined from ancient sea salt deposits from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan, Himalayan salt is rich in minerals and believed to be one of the purest salts available — hence its frequent use in spa treatments. It ranges in color from pure white to shades of pink and deep red. Hand cut into slabs, Himalayan salt is frequently used as a surface for serving food. Due to their ability to hold a specific temperature for an extended period of time, these slabs can be used for anything from serving cold ice cream to cooking fish, meats, and vegetables. Himalayan salt can also be used as a cooking or finishing salt. Or use it to rim the edge of a glass for a warm-weather cocktail.

Ready to Expand Your Pantry?

27% Off: Start with The Foundation and Seasonal Salt Collections from Salt Experts at The Meadow. A little goes a long way, so these salts will last you A LONG TIME.

1 Comment

Filed under Do This!, NYC Best

One response to “Do This: Salts You Should Own {and Why You Should Care}

  1. Ken

    I knew you were into salt but I didn’t know you knew so much about it. Enjoy!!

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