Salt of the Earth and Sea
Salt is a mineral, sodium chloride that comes from the sea. Even the salt we mine in the ground, originated from oceans that have evaporated and buried eons ago. Each type of salt has a distinctive taste and texture dependent on its processing and where it originated, (McGee, Harold, On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of The Kitchen 2004).
Kosher Salt vs Table Salt
I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt as my all-purpose salt for cooking and baking. What I learned is, not all brands are alike. Some brands are flaky, some are granular, Also, the size of the crystals changes from brand to brand as well. Size and density of each granule affect the total weight and volume. Therefore, for consistency, I only use one brand.
At first, Diamond Crystal Kosher salt was the only brand available at my local grocery store. It was just the luck of the draw. Over time I continued using this brand because prefer the size and shape of the crystals. Diamond’s crystals are smaller, and I find the smaller crystals dissolve faster and give me more control when I sprinkle salt on my food. Feel free to use what brand you have but if you are not sure how it compares to Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, start with a little less, taste and add more if needed. It is easier to add more salt than take away. Also, I recommend weighing your ingredients. Use a scale with metric and US measurements.
I prefer Kosher salt to table salt because of the flavor. Because Kosher salt does not have additives in it, I believe it has a cleaner taste. An additional bonus is, I also use less when cooking with kosher salt without sacrificing on flavor. The weight of a teaspoon of table salt is not equal to the weight of a teaspoon of Kosher salt, or a teaspoon of sea salt. On average, a teaspoon of table salt weighs 6 grams. Whereas a teaspoon of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt weighs 3 grams, and a teaspoon of Maldon sea salt weighs 4 grams. That is a big difference and will greatly influence the flavor of your finished meal.
If Kosher salt is specified and you only have table salt, use half of the specified amount of salt in the recipe. If needed, you can add more salt throughout the cooking process. This precaution is only necessary when the recipe gives ingredients in volumes, such as a teaspoon or tablespoon. If a recipe provides a weight measurement, usually in grams, use the same weight of Kosher Salt for the table salt.
I use Maldon sea salt for my finishing salt. Maldon is available at good grocery stores and at a reasonable price. I prefer its’ pyramid and flaky shape. The crystals are not chunky and will easily break apart if needed. Also, I am not a fan of large salt crystals that are chunky small pebbles. The granules are too big, have a dominant taste, and feels like you are eating course sand.
Cooking with Salt
Salt is used with food and cooking as a seasoning, as a flavor, and as a cure. When salt is used as a seasoning, its primary purpose is to bring out the unique flavors of all the ingredients in the recipe. The roast chicken will have more depth of flavor, chocolate chip cookies will sing to you, and the blanched green beans will taste bright and fresh. If used properly, you won’t taste the salt in the food. If you do get that distinctive taste, then it means you added too much.
When salt is used as a flavor, the taste of salt is a distinct characteristic of the prepared food. Typically, it is an ingredient added after the food is finished cooking. The taste and/or texture is necessary to achieve the desired result, like sea salt sprinkled on dark chocolate truffles, salt sprinkled on French fries, or salty pretzels.
Salt is also important to curing methods of food to preserve it. Such as cucumbers become pickled and salmon turns into gravlax.
Special curing salts are used to cure meats and should not be confused with and used as regular kitchen salts. Curing salts have additives (nitrates and nitrites) to prevent the growth of bacteria and preserve color, (McGee, Harold, Keys to Good Cooking, 2010).
Try any of my recipes on the blog to learn the different properties of this indispensable ingredient
Roast chicken with lemon and herbs
Dinner Salad with Sea Scallops and Greens
Classic Margarita and Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita
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