Understanding the Salt Business
Salt is one of the world’s most popular and widely used natural ingredients. It is found in a wide variety of cuisines and is used in almost everything. You can find salt sold in the grocery store, in markets, in restaurants, health food stores, even in some pharmacies. Here are a few ways that you can make use of salt.
In cooking, salt offers several varieties that can be used to enhance the flavor of your meals. Most often, salt is used as a seasoning for certain dishes such as red meat or fish. While generally advise that you keep all of these on hand for baking and cooking, you may use them interchangeably for some special occasions. For example, sea salt is produced by soaking in salt water in deep cavities, thus producing tiny crystals which have a salty flavor.
There is also kosher salt, which has a distinctive smell and texture similar to sea salt. However, it is not always kosher. Kosher salt may be used in the same dishes as sea salt, but it should be rinsed off before eating. This is because sea salt has a higher concentration of minerals and other flavors. Kosher salt tends to retain more of its salt content when it is heated and so cooks more quickly.
Salt, sea salt and kosher salt all have a coarse texture. This texture provides an extra dimension to dishes, especially baked foods. Curd flavored salt creates a rich flavor in beans and legumes; honey flavored salt creates a sweet flavor in fruits, vegetables and breads; and rock salt has a gray color that some find attractive. Some also enjoy the texture and rock salt’s ability to draw out flavors from meats, fish and poultry. When seasoned properly, salt can enhance the entire flavor of a meal.
Most kosher salt contains one percent or less of trace minerals like potassium, magnesium, iron and manganese. Since these minerals are important to good health, most people consider table salt and sea salt to be similar in texture. However, there is a great deal of variation in the textures of the three major types of salt. The difference between kosher salt and sea salt is slight.
Cooking with kosher salt will create a salty taste in foods when they have just been prepared. The flavor can be masked by the additional flavorings in vegetables or fruit, but sea salt has a much stronger flavor. In baking, sea salt has a very rich flavor, whereas table salt tends to have a bland flavor. Most cooks agree that sea salt has a higher melting point than table salt, so it is better for baking in the oven or on the stove top.
The texture of sea salt is much more uniform and does not have “grains” in its composition. Many cooks claim sea salt has a better flavor and is saltier than table salt. Although it is more expensive, sea salt is a better value for the money. It has a uniform texture and hardly ever leaves behind fine dust particles that can cause food contamination.
There are two main types of salt: coarse sea salt or kosher salt and fine sea salt. Coarse sea salt is the salt commonly found in restaurants and food stores. It is the salt that can be bought in powder form and used for seasoning. Kosher salt is the salt traditionally used for pickling and baking purposes. Its color ranges from gray to white and its texture is much finer than coarse sea salt.
In addition to having different colors and varying textures, kosher salt is also mined from the sea. The salt deposits from the Dead Sea contain extremely high concentrations of minerals that have been chemically activated. As a result, the salt is highly sensitive to the elements that are present in seawater. It reacts to high levels of calcium and magnesium, and even copper. When manufacturers buy this type of sea salt from the Dead Sea, they must pay a premium price because it is not typically available in small quantities to ordinary consumers.
Some of the world’s most popular salt comes from Russia and Alaska. Unlike sea salt, which comes primarily from salt mines in the ocean, these salts come from deposits found beneath the sea bed. They were formed by ancient sea animals millions of years ago. Today, these salt deposits are being mined frequently in order to provide the country with a plentiful supply of salt. Unfortunately, there is no limit to how much salt can be mined since these deposits are spread across a huge area of land.
When buying sea salt, make sure to read the list of ingredients carefully. All sea salt is not the same, even though there are some similarities. Be sure that the salt you are buying contains an impurities removal process such as potassium chloride. Fine sea salt such as pickling salt does not contain any chemicals and does not give off any harmful gases when it is exposed to light.