A brief history and guide to each type of salt
Each type of salt used throughout history was solely dependent on the region. Salt has been used for thousands of years in religious ceremonies, maintaining livelihood, and as a form of currency. Salt has been a staple of mankind, thriving cultures, and progressing societies.
Fast forward to the modern era, we predominately use it in seasoning and cooking. We still hold its importance in cuisine, the authenticity of culture, and a nuanced worship of perfecting a meal we love.
let’s dive deeper into each type of salt
In regards to food, salt has many purposes. We use finishing salt to cut through a heavy flavor by sprinkling it on the perfect plate. We use preserving salts to pickle ingredients and to cure meats. We use it to balance taste in cooking.
Salt is harvested from mining ancient deposits or raking salt pans of fresh sea water.
Let’s look into the different types of salt, what their qualities are and where we should use them to get the most bang for our buck!
Iodized salt/table salt, the most common type of salt
Iodized salt, or table salt, is one of the most common salts used in the household. It is made by spraying a solution of potassium iodate or potassium iodide.
Dextrose is also added to prevent potassium iodide from oxidizing. In addition, calcium silicate is often added to prevent clumping in the salt. This helps the salt remain dry.
This salt has a very sharp taste and made up of fine granules. The addition of iodine comes from it being an ingested staple of diets across society.
Salt does not spoil, which makes it the perfect zero-waste product to aid us in getting our required needs for iodine. This only used for seasoning food at the table.
Kosher salt, the most popular type of salt for chefs
Kosher salt is one of the most used kitchen salts. It is a coarse flake that has a sharp taste raw and rounds out as you cook it.
This is used in most cooking preparations because of the pure taste and the absence of the bitter tasting additives. It is much easier to season with because of the coarse flake and preferred by chefs around the world.
Fine sea salt, a type of salt used to season fish
Sea salt is produced by the evaporation of seawater. Production of this salt has been dated to prehistoric times.
These types of salts are highly influenced by the environment they are harvested in. Algae, minerals, and clay will change the taste/color. The texture of these types of salt make them a great alternative in cooking salts.
You see seafood seasoned (what a mouthful) with fine sea salt before cooking in many fine dining restaurants.
Pink salt is mined from the Punjab region of Pakistan. The giant salt deposit comes from a 100-200 million-year-old seabed.
The beautiful rosy pastel color comes from the mineral deposits that were left behind when the ancient sea evaporated. The beauty of these types of salt is that you can cook items on bricks of it by using it to conduct heat.
It is used as a type of salt for finishing food and has a lovely subtle salty/minerally taste.
Sel gris, a unique type of salt
Sel Gris, or grey salt, is another finishing salt. It is a coarse-grained French sea salt that comes from the same salt pans as fleur de sel. The difference is in the way it is harvested.
For these types of salt, the grey color comes from the contact with the clay/basalt/sand or concrete-lined bottoms of the salt pan. They are minerally complex and dense.
This makes it perfect for seared or grilled meats such as steak or lamb. The moisture that is left inside the salt, coupled with the earthy/minerality of it, make it a unique finishing salt with a flattering crunchy texture.
Fleur de sel, a delicate type of salt
Fleur de sel is my favorite type of salt. It is a French sea salt that translates to “flower of salt”. It is used to finish a dish.
This salt is coarse and delicate. It is formed on the surface of the salt ponds as the water evaporates. It is minerally complex, yet not as complex as its cousin sel gris.
The satisfying crunch of this finishing salt makes it desirable to finish vegetables or desserts.
Pink Salt #1, Quick Cure, Prague Powder, a type of salt for cured meats
This is a dangerous salt if ingested in high amounts. This is only used for quick curing. This is a highly concentrated salt that is used in curing a mass amount of meats.
It contains 6.25% sodium nitrite and has added pink color so it is not confused with other salts. This is great for curing pancetta and a variety of salumi.
Pink salt #2, Slow curing salt, Prague Powder #2, another type of salt for cured meats
This is another dangerous salt if ingested in high amounts. This is used in the slow curing of meats.
This is a composition of 4% sodium nitrate and 6% sodium nitrite and has added pink color so it is not confused with other salts.
This is great for curing pancetta and a variety of salumi.
Also known as Kala Namak (black salt). This is a Himalayan rock salt.
In rock form, it is black from the Greigite. As it is ground, it takes on a brownish purple/pink color.
It is most notable for the aromatic smell attributed to the sulfur content. The taste is quite earthy with a savory and slightly sour echo.
Khoisan salt pearls, a South African type of salt
These beautifully shaped salt pears come from South Africa. They have a well-rounded and minerally taste.
One of the most notable things about these pearls is the sweetness you taste as it dissolves on your palate. It is a nice finishing salt for seafood, vegetables and desserts alike!
The Maras salt ponds were created by the Incas over a thousand years ago. This is a small-grained finishing salt with a sharp taste.
It also has a fair amount of moisture, which makes it great for cooked meats. The moisture content of this salt keeps it from drawing out moisture from the cooked proteins.
Murray River salt flakes, another flaky type of salt
This is a flaked sea salt produced from the Murray Darling Basin in Australia. It has a delicate, brittle, texture that has a soft pink hue.
It is a pure sea salt so there are no additives. This salt has a bright taste and goes excellent with finishing vegetables and garnishing chocolates.
Namibian salt pearls, a beautiful type of salt
These salt pearls are made from a complex natural process involving heat, a lake, and the Namibian Berg Wind. This type of salt is a true work of art.
They have a very robust flavor and are much larger than other finishing salts. It is best to throw them in a grinder to crack fresh over your food.
Pickling salt is another pure granulated salt. There are no additives because they tend to turn the pickling liquid cloudy or dark.
It is a very fine salt which makes dissolving a breeze. This is also known as preserving salt or canning salt.
This is a salt obtained by natural precipitation from the Atlantic ocean.
Although it is additive free, this sea salt contains natural iodine. It has a refined taste with a layer of savoriness.
This is known as the caviar of salt.
This coarse sea salt comes from the famous “Salt Road” in Sicily.
These are the early bloomers on the surface of the salt ponds. This has a subtle and delicate taste/texture.
This salt is great for creating compound or flavored salts. There is a slight moisture and is comparable to the shape of fleur de sel.
Hailing from the salt marshes of southern Brittany, between the Loire and Vilaine rivers, along the Atlantic ocean.
Salt has been harvested here since the Iron Age. The coarse sea salt is naturally gray.
It has a mild saltiness with a full body of flavor. This is great for finishing softer vegetables.
We can thank an ancient sea for forming this salt deposit in Central Utah. This is a real-life American salt mine.
This salt is great for cooking fish or seasoning doughs! Its tiny shape will be evenly dispersed leaving you with a consistency.
Another exotic South African sea salt. This is great as table salt or cooking salt! There is more of a bright pop than your common table or cooking salts.
It comes from natural underground reservoirs that are pumped to the surface of the Kalahari Desert and dried.
It easily dissolves and is very minerally.
This is a Celtic sea salt that has a higher PH level than most salts. This has a mild salty taste and a hard coarse texture.
This is great for grilled meats and garnishing ice creams, custards, or fruits.
100% natural with fine white crystals. This salt comes from the Isle of Anglesey and is perfect for your regular cooking salt.
This salt has a sharp taste for the fine grains, so use it consciously!
Persian blue salt, the most colorful type of salt
By far one of the prettiest salts, the blue color comes from a potassium mineral called sylvinite.
The blue coloration is extremely rare and rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
This salt is harvested from the Persian mountains with crystals as old as 100 million years! There is an intense saltiness with a resonating sweet aftertaste.
[It is easily dissolvable and used to finish any dish for a beautiful pop of color.
This course salt has a mild saltiness that is rich in minerals. This is good for finishing any protein and can also be used as a table salt.
Located in the Salzkammergut area in the Alps, this salt is high in minerals and gets its tan color from the high iron content.
Maldon salt, a type of salt from england
Another one of my favorite salts for finishing desserts!
This salt is in the shape of a hollow pyramid and has a delicate, flaky, rounded salty taste.
The texture goes well with finishing chocolates or ice creams! The unique process that it takes to create this comes all the way from England!
This is a salt in a class of its own.
This salt is harvested off the waters of Molokai. It is brittle with a deep black color.
This salt is great for butter with bread, grilled fish, eggs, or desserts for a dramatic contrast in color!
This is a robust tasting salt due to the minerality composition. Use this sparingly when garnishing!
This mineral-rich Alaea sea salt gets its gorgeous color from the iron composition of the Alaea clay it is baked with.
There is a savory and robust taste to this coarse salt and it is commonly used to garnish softened butter. It has less sodium than table salt, but it makes it up with minerality!
Not to be confused with “smoke flavored salt”, this aromatic salt is smoked for up to 14 days.
“Smoke flavored salt” has a smokey flavor additive and unnatural.
As for this product, it is all natural. Just as with any other smoking, the wood used can impart a range of robust to sweet flavors. This salt is great for finishing vegan or vegetarian dishes to get that “bacon crumble” feel and taste.
It has a hard, satisfying, crunch that can change the complexity and dimension of any bite of a dish.
Truffle salt, a gourmet type of salt
Truffle salt can come in all shapes of grain. From fine to very rocky and coarse.
It is most commonly made with black truffles and goes great on eggs or to make truffled popcorn!
This is made in Perugia, Italy and has a deep earthy quality that adds depth to any dish.
This Korean salt is used for detoxification and is a strong alkaline level. It is roasted several times.
This is done by roasting sea salt in bamboo canisters. It is a great dietary supplement for getting your body essential nutrients to maintain good health.
It can be used to replace common table salt and has a bold flavor with a light salty taste and a hint of sulfur.
This salt is made by blending sea salt with vanilla beans! This can be done with cooking or finishing salts to add an extra layer of depth to that roasted pork or toasted white chocolate mousse.
I love making this salt for both savory and sweet preparations. Here is my personal recipe for this salt:
1 cup Sea salt, table salt, finishing salt (or sugar if you feel adventurous)
4 ea Vanilla beans
Split the vanilla beans in half and scrape the insides gently with the back end of your knife blade.
Place this in a bowl with the salt (or sugar) and whisk until the vanilla is evenly dispersed in the salt.
You can also do this in a food processor or blender but you will lose the coarseness and reduce it to a fine salt.
I started creating this salt while I was obsessed with beets. This salt adds earthy and sweet notes to any dish!
I use it on salads, raw fish, or to finish my popcorn! I personally love using Maldon salt for this, but feel free to try out this recipe with any salt!
1/2 cup Dried Beets, beet chips, dehydrated beets
1 cup Maldon salt, sea salt, table salt
Grind the beet chips into a fine powder. Place in a bowl and toss with your choice of salt.
This compounded salt is great for garnishing margaritas, seasoning your fresh ceviche or adding a little heat and crunch to your tacos!
I have also used this when making chocolate truffles and it adds a nice pop of flavor!
This salt combines all the flavors you love of one of the world’s most popular condiments!
The taste is a complexion of earthy tones, minerality, boldness, and savoriness. This salt is great for eggs, meat rubs, or even aioli!
This ultra savory salt is made from roasting and dehydrating garlic and mixing it with sea salt.
If you LOVE garlic a disgusting amount (like me), this salt can be added to EVERYTHING. I personally use this over garlic powder in rubs to add that extra layer of development from the roasting of the garlic.
It is a great source of umami!
Another salt that is PACKED with umami!
One of my rising favorites for seasoning grilled meats, flavoring soups or adding to sauteed/steamed vegetables.
My recipe for this is as follows:
1 cup Dried porcini mushrooms
2 cups Kosher Salt
Blend the mushrooms until they are a powder. Place in a bowl and toss with the salt. If you want to transform this into a rub for steaks, add sugar, garlic and a bit of olive oil to moisten up the rub.
Apply this to your meat before grilling.
A sea salt that is mixed with Japanese yellow curry powder. This salt has a complex depth with a resounding heat.
I use this salt when seasoning fish, soups, tofu or even DESSERTS! A little curry in macerated berries or to diversify creme brulee will take your dessert game to the next level!
One of the up and coming salts out there, matcha salt can be used to give a creamy saltiness to any vegetable!
Of course, the dessert possibilities are endless, but you can really get a surprising pop of flavor by using this in savory preparations.
Flavor popcorn, edamame, glazed pork belly, or even poke!
The next time you have whole lobster, you must try this out.
It is made by dehydrating the lobster roe. Once dried, the green globby sack will turn into a bright red color.
This creates a vibrant type of salt with a robust lobster flavor. I garnish raw fish, seafood or softened butter with this amazing lobster salt.
1 Ea Lobster roe, dehydrated overnight in a warm/dry place
2 Tbsp Maldon salt
Clean your lobster and remove the roe. Place in a dry/warm place overnight. Depending on the location, it may take 1-2 days to fully dry.
Once dried, blend into a powder and sprinkle over Maldon salt. This will create a vibrant red, uniquely textured, finishing salt.
A moment of silence for all of the different types of spilled salt in this article
There is no way around the fact that salt can be used as a vehicle to give us more than just iodine. Respecting the food we create can only be further appreciated by using diverse ingredients across many cultures.
We are fortunate enough to live in a time where all of these products are accessible and creativity with them has never been more booming!
I challenge you to continue to create and analyze where to impart different depths of flavor within your eating and cooking. This goes beyond salt.
Salt is just a literal and figurative vehicle that has/will continue to progress our cultures and society.
Check out how I use salt in this chocolate cake recipe here!