ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › SALT IS SALT--OR IS IT?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

SALT IS SALT--OR IS IT?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I was a geologist in my former life and I know salt well as a mineral. I know, too, that all salt originates in the ocean (small exception is salt derived from high-brine lakes like Great Salt Lake in Utah). In other words, all salt is sea salt. So why do people buy the higher priced salt labeled sea salt when cheap granulated salt is identical in quality? Salt is salt.

True, sea salt contains small amounts of magnesium, calcium and sulfur but so small that using the amount of salt in your food, you will not be able to find them beneficial. Besides, sea salt must be cleaned and processed, just like granulated table salt, and the small amount of trace elements are removed by the time it is in the package.

I expect to get a deluge of protest from chefs, cookbook writers, cooks of all sorts who have spent wasted money on such high-priced item as English sea salt (Maldon salt) and other costly salts.

Believe me, salt is salt and virtually all salt is sea salt. Spend the money on good ice cream, instead.

What do you think?

George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
post #2 of 28
Yeah you are really true to that all salt came from the sea but as what i have know salt have many process and inprovement don by different company in order for them to have other kind of salt like what they call  Iodized table salt contains a small amount of potassium iodide and dextrose  as a dietary supplement to prevent goiter and mental retardation. Plain table salt does not contain potassium iodide and dextrose. All table salt contains an anti-caking agent like calcium silicate to keep it from clumping in humid conditions so it flows freely from the box. Maybe that the reason why some people choose any kind of salt due ti there label contains.
post #3 of 28
I'm mostly with you George.

From what I've read, those extra minerals that make up various sea salts register at about 0.05% of the volume.  I suppose it would take one heck of a tongue to "read" that and be able to translate it into anything we could call "flavor".

I did a salt taste-testing, at a food convention years ago, with about two dozen fellow chefs, a couple being good friends.  About half the testers wrote romantic descriptions of the various salts.  My friends and I wrote "no significant differences in flavors".

What almost all of us wrote, though, was "interesting TEXTURE", "good MOUTHFEEL", "sat on the tongue awhile" and the like.

I asked the organizers why there wasn't a "blind" or "placebo".  Their answer: "we didn't think of that".

Joe
post #4 of 28
Meanwhile texture and mouthfeel is part of the whole experience, and anyone can tell the difference between table salt and fleur de sel in a blind taste. Maldon salt I've never tried but I would expect it to have its own mouthfeel as well.
post #5 of 28
Yes, I also agree that for the most part salt is salt.  Salt and water, as far as I know, are the only things we usually consume that did not originate with some living creature.  But that's another thread.

Grain size is more important in the cooking process.  Once the salt has dissolved into the food, it is all the same.  But there are times when it makes a difference.  Exotic salts have a place at table if you want a certain mouthfeel, or perhaps even the color of the unwashed, more highly mineralized options is a factor.  Perhaps you're serving some lemon grilled shrimp and want a small pile of chili salt on the plate for dipping.  A nice pink or rose hued salt could go well with red chili powder.

Which would work better - salting your popcorn with kosher salt or finely ground pickling salt?  What should go on those pretzels?  That shot of tequila?

I do think people tend to go overboard with using expensive salts at the beginning of a dish when all the extra qualities just get dissolved away.  By far the most common I use is plain old Morton kosher salt.  I did buy a box of iodized table salt about a month ago to replace the carton that got used up.  Can't remember what I used it for, though.

And I do like the fun of having a salt grinder to go along with a pepper grinder at table, it seems like a nice touch, but basically all for show.

And hey, the Great Salt Lake was once an ocean - well, maybe sort of, depending on how one defines 'ocean'

mjb.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Reply
post #6 of 28
    Hi,

  I would urge you to try a couple.  A small jar of Fleur de Sel will only set you back about $12.00.  Some people spend more than that at McDonalds in one or two visits.

   cheers,
  dan
post #7 of 28
The OP sets up a false dichotomy.  Salt is salt -- in solution.  However, many salts are distinguishable when used dry and especially as "finishing" salts. 

A few uses are based on the rate at which certain type of crystals dissolve (as opposed to others), "Kosher" salt, for instance, largely because of the size of the crystals sticks to the surface of moist foods and does not quikly dissolve into the solute.  It's very good for use in dry rubs and otherwise seasoning proteins before grilling, saute, or searing.  It's grain size also makes it convenient to "pinch" and otherwise handle by hand. 

Differences can be linked to the size and shape of the crystals which are detectable as "mouthfeel."  Some people interpret this as a higher degree of "saltiness," and who's to say they shouldn't?  There's more to "taste" than chemical reactions at the tongue and plate nerve loci.  A good cook is like a composer who uses all the instruments in the orchestra.

Still other differences are created by adulterants (usually soil), as in grey, pink and black salts. 

A few people, no doubt, are sufficiently sensitive to the very small amounts of iodine used to iodize salt.  However, that's a very small number.  As a practical matter the largest problem with iodized salt is that tends to leave a purple tint when used in a highly concentrated solution for a prolonged period -- as when brining.

BDL
post #8 of 28
Salt is salt, as grapes are grapes as olives are olives as peaches are peaches as cooks are cooks
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Reply
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
Reply
post #9 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by cape chef View Post

Salt is salt, as grapes are grapes as olives are olives as peaches are peaches as cooks are cooks

Makes me wonder if the original poster even tried to taste the different kinds of salt before posting this.
post #10 of 28
Even between kosher salts there is a texture difference. Diamond is much harder and doesn't dissolve well unlike Morton.
post #11 of 28
yeah A kosher salt is really different it is also clearer and like a crystal water. There many people use kosher salt because it contain soduim chloride unlike with another natural table salt . But why is call Kosher salt .  Kosher derived from what name ???
post #12 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by HomeMadeCook View Post

yeah A kosher salt is really different it is also clearer and like a crystal water. There many people use kosher salt because it contain soduim chloride unlike with another natural table salt . But why is call Kosher salt .  Kosher derived from what name ???
 

 Kosher is Yiddish for 'Proper' or 'good'.
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
Reply
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
Reply
post #13 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryB View Post

Even between kosher salts there is a texture difference. Diamond is much harder and doesn't dissolve well unlike Morton.
 


And in addition, Diamond Crystal does not contain anti-caking agents or other additives or impurities like Morton's salt does.  And, as has been suggested, many sea salts are not cleaned to the extent that they do contain certain impurities that lend color and flavor.  Further, the size abd shape of the crystals allow for different degrees of sodium per measure.  Some cooks and chefs use the "feel" of the salt to help determine the amount to add to a dish when cooking or for finished seasoning.  The impurities sometimes add color, and that color is part of the sinishing process of the dish.  Then, of course, there are the large slabs of salt that are used for presentation and seasoning.  I've seen food prepared and served on large bricks of of pink salt - try that with Morton's table salt.  http://www.atthemeadow.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=1_27
Edited by Schmoozer - 3/2/10 at 6:26am
Schmoozer
Reply
Schmoozer
Reply
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
You are right--I should've specifies in my post that I am talking about salt as a cooking ingredient not as in "finishing salt."
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerdosh View Post

You are right--I should've specifies in my post that I am talking about salt as a cooking ingredient not as in "finishing salt."
 
   lol...

   well then...salt is salt.  Just as you say

   dan
post #16 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerdosh View Post

You are right--I should've specifies in my post that I am talking about salt as a cooking ingredient not as in "finishing salt."

Then you shouldn't have written "I expect to get a deluge of protest from chefs, cookbook writers, cooks of all sorts who have spent wasted money on such high-priced item as English sea salt (Maldon salt) and other costly salts." as most chefs, cookbook writers, and cooks of all sorts know very well that they're buying finishing salts, and don't use fleur de sel for the pasta water.
post #17 of 28
 French fries is right, i've done a blind tasting, just here at my house. I had volcanic salt and maldon sea salt which is what I usually have. Also, size of grain can matter in the amount of juices it will pull out of meat, or how spread out the flavor is. For example, I like bread with butter, radishes, and some sea salt, not iodized salt.
post #18 of 28
 I have found a difference between Redmond's "Real salt" out of Utah and generic table salt.  I believe it is the anti-caking agents such as sodium aluminosilicate that makes the difference.  I know they don't use it in many 'gourmet' salts.
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
Reply
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
Reply
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by gerdosh View Post

I was a geologist in my former life and I know salt well as a mineral.

 


 
Then you should know that 'salt' is a generic term.  Table salt is primarily NaCl, sodium chloride, but salt  is also calcium chloride, sodium chromate, mercury sulfide, copper sulfate pentahydrate, the list goes on and on.  Not all salt is the same.

  Food for thought....or seasoning in this case.
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
Reply
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
Reply
post #20 of 28
Quote:
  Kosher derived from what name ???
 

 
"Kosher" does indeed mean "proper"- or "okay for use" by those following the Jewish dietary rules. Meat cannot be eaten with blood present, so it's salted and then rinsed to remove blood before cooking. (Never mind that some of it is not really blood...) That style of salt has been used by Jewish cooks for a very long time.

That's why it's called "kosher" salt. Otherwise, salt itself isn't really classifyable as kosher or non-kosher; it's more of an earth element, I guess.

I think what Cape Chef means is that salt, like crops and people, are nuanced by their locations and/or experiences.

Edited by Mezzaluna - 3/2/10 at 7:11pm
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Reply
post #21 of 28
[Whoops.  Deleted because too repetitive]  

BDL
Edited by boar_d_laze - 3/2/10 at 10:10pm
post #22 of 28
Thread Starter 
You are correct, salt is also a chemical term but in the kitchen it means specifically NaCl to everyone.
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
post #23 of 28
In term of taste, MgCl gives bitter/sour taste and probably is the one that makes a differectiation inbetween salt and salt.
If salt cristallized in (slightly) reducent environnement might have some sulfide, giving a "bad yolk" flavour which in small quantity is a good taste. Calcium inside does not add flavours but makes the water more hard and with tendency to mush some sugar chains like starch (Ca is bad to pasta).
Interesting is an aspect on what is more "healthy" based on how is produced. One is the salt from sea, which might contain all what the sea contains, including mercury and pesticides, but also good things like microelements. The sald from caves, large ones in Sicily, cristallized millions of years ago and is quite refined as the long sedimentation separated salts. It's refined and excavated, but was made before man delivered pollutant in the environnement.
post #24 of 28
is the sea salt have a mercury right ? but how many percentage found base on the study ? Il just confuse because as what we known  that mercury is not good to our health if it is  too much .
post #25 of 28
Dear Homemadecook. Maybe I did a mistake, There are two approach to natural and safe food. One is to be sure that pesticides and "bad" elements are actually not in, the other is to make sure that they can not be in. So, a good farmer, who uses pesticides giving the right time to dissolve and does not spray on fruits, would deliver fruits that contain no pesticides. But you have no way to know if the fruit you are buying are from a good or a bad farmer. So if you want to be safe, you would end buying organic food, where the farmer does not use pesticede at all. Same for OGM, they are not bad because of their nature, but they might be used umproperly so you might not want to take a chance. Sea salt should not contiain mercury as that is on the lower part of the cristallization part which a good salt farm would avoid picking, However it's there. So you kight opt for cave salt since it was made before man existed.
post #26 of 28
Okay Tuscan Chef , I got you point most of the farmer used any kind of pesticide just to bear the good fruits and good vegetables you are right . Because nowadays we can't easy have a good fruits due to many chemical that even the soil can't even support the plants to grow healthy that's why most of us use articificial . Okay thanks so much for the knowledge and ideas you share ..
post #27 of 28
Thread Starter 
If NY Assemblyman Felix Ortiz has his way, this thread becomes moot -- he wants to ban ALL salt in NY restaurants' kitchen, having violators smacked with a $1,000 fine for every salty dish. NY cooks and chefs, of course, are up in arm. Ortiz should be on a totally salt-free diet for a year and see what the result would be. In fact, this may be an excellent new diet: every food item would taste so bad that you would get up from the table well before the meal is finished.
If you are in the Cincinnati area, I am being interview today (3/16) at 9 pm local time by WLW radio (700 AM) on this topic.
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
George, Culinary Scientist and author of
http://whatrecipesdonttellyou.com
Reply
post #28 of 28
Actually there's an ongoing thread about this: http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/59563/banning-salt#post_303120

And, of course, even in the unlikely event he does push-through such idiotic legislation it would only apply to New York.

Besides which, being as there have been several opinions offered, you could  say that this thread already is moot.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › SALT IS SALT--OR IS IT?