Salt: How to Choose the Best One
There are so many varieties of salt in the grocery aisles but what’s the difference and what is the best kind to use? The bottom line is that they all are made from Sodium chloride (NaCl). These two elements, the sodium and the chlorine, are absolutely necessary for life. Some have other trace minerals as well but you’d have to eat large amounts of salt to get all the nutrition you need. Salt is used in cooking and baking and can make or break your recipes. This list should help you make an informed decision as to which you want to use.
- Table salt. This is the most commonly used form of salt. It is refined into the salt we have in our pantry after being mined from salt deposits. Also, most of the minerals are removed. In the US, however, most salt has iodine added to it, hence, iodized salt. This is done because our thyroid gland needs iodine to function. This type of salt, when compared to the others’ taste is a bit “chemically.” It can be further refined into salts for pickling, canning, seasoned or popcorn salt.
- Kosher Salt. Kosher salt is really versatile in the kitchen. It is irregularly shaped and easily dissolves into dishes. Kosher salt can be used in about everything. It is well suited in the processing of meats (does a great job of drawing out the blood) – the Kosher butchering process. Kosher salt, however, is not always certified Kosher. Kosher salt usually has less additives and is often recommended for use in making homemade saline for nasal rinses.
- Sea Salt. Sea salt is made from saltwater that is strained of its impurities. The water is then heated at low temperatures, the water evaporates and salt crystals form. There are two varieties: fine and flaked. The flaked variety does cost a bit more but has better flavor and more versatility. Often times, it is sold in a grinder. It dissolves almost instantly and provides a burst of flavor in a small amount. Sea salt does contain trace amounts of zinc and potassium. This also can be found iodized as well.
- Celtic Sea Salt. This salt is harvested from a salt pan – natural salt pans are flat expanses of ground covered with salt and other minerals, usually shining white under the Sun. They are found in deserts, and are natural formations (Wikipedia) – and is sold both as crystals and fine-ground sea salt. It is best used as a rub or a topping to your dishes but it is also versatile and could be used in everyday cooking. This type of salt doesn’t pull as much moisture from the food as with Kosher salt.
- Himalayan Pink Salt. This salt is mined from Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. The pink color comes from the iron oxide which comes from the area where it is mined. It also contains trace amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. There is little difference in taste between this and the other salts so it’s a matter of a preference. It does serve to improve dish presentation when sprinkled on foods.
Bottom Line: Choosing which salt you use is largely going to be personal preference. You aren’t going to be choosing one over the other because of a vast difference in nutrient content. Refined table salt is my last choice but after that it boils down to the texture, flavor, and what I’m preparing. I bounce between Sea Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt. It seems a little goes a long way.
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