My family was recently gifted some lovely French salts. This got me thinking how little I really knew about salts. When to use them? Which ones to use? Wouldn’t the little Morton girl do for everything? So I did a little research.
One thing about salt is, once you put it in you can not take it out. Salt can not be smelled, only tasted. So, over salting is a mistake. No one wants to feel like they have just taken in a mouthful of saltwater.
When to add the salt depends on what is being made. A pinch of salt should be added to the boiling water when making pasta and rice. This allows it to be absorbed into the food. Salt should be added to vegetables at the end of cooking as it draws out the moisture in the vegetables. Beans should be soaked overnight in salty water before cooking or sprinkled at the end of cooking not while cooking, as this will make them tough. Meat should be salted when raw. Once the meat starts cooking, the cells close up and the meat can not absorb the flavors as well. Soup is the easy one. Salt distributes evenly in soup and can be added to soup at any time.
Common table salt and iodized table salt are one in the same. Iodized table salt has iodine, an important nutrient, added to provide an easy source of iodine to a person’s diet. However, there is no taste difference and the usage is the same. Chemicals are usually added to table salt to keep it from absorbing moisture and letting it be able to be sprinkled in salt containers. This is the cheapest form of salt.
Kosher salt is used in curing meats. It dissolves well and can be used the same as would common table salt . It’s crystals are larger in size than that of common table salt.
Sea salt is obviously obtained from the sea. It contains mineral salts like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These minerals give it a stronger, more complex flavor. The minerals also give it a greyish color. Sel gris is a type of sea salt from France which is collected from clay-lined salt ponds off the coast. It is slightly wet in texture. Fleur de sel is the delicate crystals that form on on the surface of evaporating sel gris marshes. This form does not come in contact with the clay and is clear in color. The Fleur de sel is skimmed off the top of the water by hand using special rakes. Fleur de sel is the top of the line in salt, which accounts for it being more pricey to purchase and is a special occasion salt. It is best added to a dish directly before serving. It is regarded as one of the best finishing salts often used on caramels for it’s crunchy crystal texture.
After trying Sel gris and Fleur de sel, I have to say I am a fan. These salts have more flavor and texture than the little Morton girl. I would say they are surely salts to be found in a Master Chef’s kitchen. Proper seasoning can immensely improve a dish. Bon Appetit!