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Please somebody explain different kinds of salt

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
You've got Kosher, sea salt, lite salt, table salt....

Salt is salt right? What's the difference?

Thanks for the input.

post #2 of 22
It's all sodium chloride, but each type you mentioned there do have some differences, including the size of the grains (table salt will be very fine, some kosher and sea salts will be coarser), content of other minerals, whether or not it's iodized, etc.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #3 of 22
Just read the back of the box. Table salt is iodized. Kosher salt and sea salt just taste way better IMHO. I wouldn't know about lite salt. Aspartame? :D
post #4 of 22
Lite salt is mostly potassium chloride mixed with salt. It tastes very salt-like for basic chemistry reasons, but has little sodium. It's targeted to low sodium diets.

Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #5 of 22
So I guess water is water. Right?

There is a huge difference in sizes and a difference in taste. Salt is relatively cheap. I suggest you buy a few and experiment for yourself. Depending on the nature of the dish, you may or may not notice a difference.

My rule of thumb is; the closer the salt is used to serving dish, the more difference you will notice. For example, compare flake sea salt to table salt on a salad.
post #6 of 22
To me, texture differences play an equally important role as flavor differences in salt.

post #7 of 22
Aside from the stuff everybody mentioned, Diamond and Morton Kosher Salt have different densities. It takes about around 25% - 30% more Diamond to make something as salty as Morton.

The reverse is also true. If a recipe was created using Diamond, and you use Morton, it will be too salty if you use the same amount by volume.

They're pretty much identical by weight, though.

post #8 of 22
I was surprised to see no one commented on "specialty" salts, like the kind you can buy out of Michael Chiarello's Napa Style catalog.

I have quite a collection of salts, spaning from Jurrasic sea salt, to french grey salt and everything inbetween, including blends. One of my favorites is sundried tomatoe gray salt, very very coarse, and quite delicous in a pan sauce used on a sub sandwhich maybe, great for reductions as well.

I do agree that salt is salt, but theyre are many different varities with different notes, almost like wine differs even in the same varietal.

Experimenting with salts is a lot of fun.
post #9 of 22
I would do a taste test. If you first taste regular table salt it'll b salty, Then if you dip a finger in Kosher salt you'll find you can actually taste the salt and its nice. Now try a flaky sea salt like Malden and it tastes salty yet very easy on the tongue. Now go back to the table salt and notice the bitter Chemical overtones. Each one has it's place. Table salt with it's additives to keep it smooth running is fine for salting potatoes. Kosher would be perfect for sprinkling on tomatoes before roasting, or using as a dip for quails eggs eg. and Malden sea salt scrunched on a steak before frying is top rate...In my opinion
In my ignorance, I've never heard of lite salt??
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
post #10 of 22
It's a mixture of sodium chloride and potasssium chloride and is nothing you would use by choice. It was popular a few decades ago when doctors tried to manage hypertension by reducing the patient's sodium intake.

Since the advent of drugs that actually work, and the realization that almost nobody was following the Dr.'s instructions, it became much less popular.

post #11 of 22
Experimenting may be fun, but the properties of most salts are well known.

Kosher salt is not kosher in that it's been blessed by a rabbi. Kosher salt is kosher because it's the type of salt used in the kashering process of slaughtering an animal in the kosher way. Salt is an important part, and it must stick to the meat. And that's exactly what kosher salt does -- it sticks to the meat. That's because it can absorb a fair amount of moisture without going solute. Kosher salt is, indeed a different density than table salt. 1 table salt = 1-1/2 Morton kosher = 2 Diamond kosher.

The colored salts, like Michael Chiarello's gray salt, pink salt from Hawaii, Brittany gray, black, etc., have color and flavor because they're slightly contaminated by dirt or sand from their place of origin. That's right, dirt.

Sea salt is refined from sea water, as opposed to being mined. Some people say it's got a slightly different taste -- again as a result of impurities in either the sea salt or the mined salt, or both. Some say it's healthier. I say it costs more.

Table salt is ordinary salt, usually mined. It is ground fine. It often has anti-caking agents to allow it to flow freely and may have other additives help prevent certain diseases.

Iodates are a typical class of additives. Iodized salt helps prevent goiters. It's a good idea to use it at least some of the times you eat, and you probably get enough eating out without worrying about adding it or removing it form your diet at home. Iodine in those quantities doesn't have much if any taste. What it does have is a color if left in solution long enough. Thus, it's not good for brining and pickling -- unless you want to add a little purple to the picture.

Pickling salt is very pure and highly soluble. It can make a more concentrated solution at a given temperature than other types of salt.

Lite salt is manufactured to have about 50% less sodium than ordinary table salt. Typically, users add roughly twice as much. But you suspected that, didn't you?

Hope this helps,
post #12 of 22
How about Tibetan black salt? I was given some - lovely big deep purplish crystals - & I don't know what to do with it. Yak butter is damned hard to come by, even in LA where you can get almost anything, so making Tibetan tea is problematic, & that's the only thing that I've specifically heard of to use black salt in. It has a distinct sulfurous flavor.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
The genesis of all the world's great cuisines can be summed up in a four word English phrase: Don't throw that away.
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the info.

post #14 of 22
You can search "black salt recipe" on teh google and come up with more than a few, I'm sure. That having been said, I think it's most commonly used for fruit chaat and salty lhassi. I suppose it would add some bite to a meat chaat too, kind of like garlic and onion powders.
post #15 of 22
Dirt is a little misleading, don't you think? After all, dirt is composed of mainly minerals, which is what imparts the different colors and flavors to many of the specialty salts available. Saying that it is contaminants and dirt is really not accurate. That would be like saying that calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium, which are critical to survival are dirt. The trace minerals are what make the salt valuable, and prized by many chefs, including myself.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #16 of 22
Earth, then. Or, how about "native soil?" I like to think of it as dirt, but I'm an earthy kinda guy.

post #17 of 22
Maybe Centrum will come out with a new product for you. New Centrum Dirt Blend, for Earthy folks. All the same ingredients as our original blend, only now we call it dirt.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #18 of 22
I think I participated in a discussion like this in the past....

It is important to point out that food grade salt must be 97% Sodium Chloride (NaCl) on a dry basis. This is part of the Codex Alimentarius which is a world standard.

At that level the is not much room for other <minerals> to make a great difference in taste.
Why is mined salt or even sea salt so pure? because Sodium Chloride is the least soluble of all minerals in sea water and forms pure crystals when sea water is evaporated slowly.
If anybody has ever evaporated seawater completely until only a mineral crust remains will know that the <mineral salts> left behind are not palatable (very bitter). Salt manufacturing is done by crystallization from a seawater brine.
Any food grade Salt dissolved in water will taste identical one to the other so if you cook by adding salt in water, don't waste your money on fancy stuff.

on the other hand, salt crystals dissolve at different rate depending on their crystalline form. For dry topical applications or semi-moist foods, the type of crystal has a bigger impact on flavour than the region the salt comes from. Although salt is assumed as very soluble in water, the crystal dissolves relatively slowly. On the tongue the lingering crystal/brine flavouring effect is well appreciated.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #19 of 22
I was just waiting for Luc to show up.

He's the chemist who can explain different crystallization and what makes the difference in the uses.

About time you showed up, Luc :D
post #20 of 22
Sorry Andy G,
This week is spring break in my area.
I've been busy with <entertaining the kids> so I haven't had much time to lurk here.
Thanks for your vote of confidence.
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #21 of 22
Try reading this book. You will understand salt only like others who have read this.

A World History
by Mark Kurlansky
</SPAN>Hardcover: Jan 2002
Paperback: Feb 2003
Publication information

From the Jacket

Homer called salt a divine substance. Plato described it as especially dear to the gods. Today we take salt for granted, a common, inexpensive substance that seasons food or clears ice from roads, a word used casually in expressions ("salt of the earth," take it with a grain of salt") without appreciating their deeper meaning. However, as Mark Kurlansky so brilliantly relates in his world-encompassing new book, salt—the only rock we eat—has shaped civilization from the very beginning. Its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of mankind.

Until about 100 years ago, when modern chemistry and geology revealed how prevalent it is, salt was one of the most sought-after commodities, and no wonder, for without it humans and animals could not live. Salt has often been considered so valuable that it served as currency, and it is still exchanged as such in places today. Demand for salt established the earliest trade routes, across unknown oceans and the remotest of deserts: the city of Jericho was founded almost 10,000 years ago as a salt trading center. Because of its worth, salt has provoked and financed some wars, and been a strategic element in others, such as the American Revolution and the Civil War. Salt taxes secured empires across Europe and Asia and have also inspired revolution (Gandhi's salt march in 1930 began the overthrow of British rule in India); indeed, salt has been central to the age-old debate about the rights of government to tax and control economies.

The story of salt encompasses fields as disparate as engineering, religion, and food, all of which Kurlansky richly explores. Few endeavors have inspired more ingenuity than salt making, from the natural gas furnaces of ancient China to the drilling techniques that led to the age of petroleum, and salt revenues have funded some of the greatest public works in history, including the Erie Canal, and even cities (Syracuse, New York). Salt's ability to preserve and to sustain life has made it a metaphorical symbol in all religions. Just as significantly, salt has shaped the history of foods like cheese, sauerkraut, olives, and more, and Kurlansky, an award-winning food writer, conveys how they have in turn molded civilization and eating habits the world over.

Salt is veined with colorful characters, from Li Bing, the Chinese bureaucrat who built the world's first dam in 250 BC, to Pattillo Higgins and Anthony Lucas who, ignoring the advice of geologists, drilled an east Texas salt dome in 1901 and discovered an oil reserve so large it gave birth to the age of petroleum. From the sinking salt towns of Cheshire in England to the celebrated salt mine on Avery Island in Louisiana; from the remotest islands in the Caribbean where roads are made of salt to rural Sichaun province, where the last home-made soya sauce is made, Mark Kurlansky has produced a kaleidoscope of history, a multi-layered masterpiece that blends economic, scientific, political, religious, and culinary records into a rich and memorable tale.
Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Starred Review. A lively social history that does for salt what Kurlansky previously did for cod....Enlightening and delighting as he goes, Kurlansky is, as Jane Grigson before him, a peerless food historian.

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Only Mark Kurlansky, winner of the James Beard Award for Excellence in Food Writing for Cod A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, could woo readers toward such an off-beat topic of Salt A World History...Throughout his engaging, well-researched history, Kurlansky sprinkles witty asides and amusing anecdotes. A piquant blend of the historic, political, commercial, scientific and culinary, the book is sure to entertain as well as educate.

Library Journal
Starred Review. In his latest work, Kurlansky is in command of every facet of this topic, and he conveys his knowledge in a readable, easy style. Deftly leading readers around the world and across cultures and centuries, he takes an inexpensive, mundane item and shows how it has influenced and affected wars, cultures, governments, religions, societies, economies, cooking (there are a few recipes), and foods…An entertaining, informative read, this is highly recommended…

Starred Review. Kurlansky thinks big. First, there was Cod A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World (1997), then The Basque History of the World (1999), and now, the world history of a subject bigger than one of the most important food commodities in the West, bigger than the oldest extant European culture--that culinary sine qua non, salt.... Tasty, very tasty!

Boston Globe
In Salt A World History, Mark Kurlansky takes a substance that shaped the fortunes of cultures from ancient China to Britain to the Americas and runs with it...Although not strictly food history, Salt is at its most winning in the chapters telling of people's obsession with it for flavoring and preserving meat and vegetables...But it's really the quirks that seem to interest Kurlansky and make this book fascinating. These sorts of stories sustain the book's narrative until, by the end, when Kurlansky reports on haute cuisine's interest in unusual, large-grain salts, this book of minutely researched data and history can literally make the mouth water.

Los Angeles Times Book Review
Kurlansky continues to prove himself remarkably adept at taking a most unlikely candidate and telling its tale with epic grandeur...With Salt, Kurlansky adds his name to this list, rising splendidly to the challenge of showing us the world that can be found in a mere grain of salt.

Seattle Post Intelligencer
Salt is an endlessly fascinating topic, which is why Kurlansky chose to write about it...Even with all the intriguing stories that Kurlansky strings together, gthere were many more he couldn't share...This single volume is savory enough.

Anthony Bourdain author of the best-selling Kitchen Confidential
Salt is the fascinating, indispensable history of an indispensable ingredient. Like Kurlansky's earlier work, Cod, it's a must-have book for any serious cook or foodie.
post #22 of 22
Pepper is also taken for granted. For example, fresh Tellicherry peppercorns and supermarket ground pepper are different phyla :D At least in taste.
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