Varieties of salt and cooking

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Solvent
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Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by Solvent » Thu Mar 16, 2017 4:12 pm

Asking here because I trust people on this forum to be more resistant to marketing hype than others.

Does anyone bother to use premium salt when cooking? Himalayan salts, sea salt flakes, kosher salts, etc. I understand that for the specific purpose of pickling, you might not want plain table salt because the anti-caking agents can cause cloudiness. Is there any reason besides that, though, for using a premium salt?

I've never bothered with anything other than table salt (even for pickling), but I'm going to make hummus this weekend, which is a pretty basic preparation. I wonder if using a fancier salt would actually make a noticeable difference.

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jennypenny
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by jennypenny » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:13 pm

I mostly use sea salt for cooking (the bigger pieces, drawing a blank on the correct name at the moment). I can taste a difference, especially with pasta. I've never used it for something cold though, so maybe you won't see a difference with hummus?

George the original one
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by George the original one » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:47 pm

To me, sea salt has a more rounded taste which is subtle. It also is non-iodized. I use iodized table salt at home, but appreciate the flavor when eating "gourmet" in the outside world. My first encounter with sea salt was on popcorn that I had to sell in little league back in the early '70s (that was before microwave popcorn!). Haven't knowingly used the other fancy salts.

subgard
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by subgard » Thu Mar 16, 2017 5:48 pm

I use plain iodized salt for health reasons. Processed and fast food is made with non-iodized salt, so iodine intake has actually gone down in the developed world over the past few decades because of lack of home cooking, and the use of specialty non-iodized salts when people do cook.

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BRUTE
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by BRUTE » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:02 pm

kosher means that it's large and flaky, which helps draw water out of steak better without over salting the meat. that's really the only use brute has for it.

himalayan and sea salt both taste much better than "regular" table salt. there's probably also some trace minerals in there like potassium and magnesium. brute recommends trying out a few salts, they definitely taste very different, and even a $10 premium salt will lasts months of heavy daily use.

KevinW
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by KevinW » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:27 pm

The gourmet salts have traces of minerals aside from pure NaCl. The effect follows common sense, the trace minerals change the flavor and color slightly. Personally I prefer to control flavor and color with other ingredients (spices, herbs, etc.). But if the salt works for you, more power to you. It's a case of different methods for achieving the same outcome.

KevinW
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by KevinW » Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:29 pm

Also, as @BRUTE pointed out, the shape of the salt kernels has an effect too. Again, following common sense, fine table salt tends to disperse evenly while coarse Kosher salt concentrates in clumps. On something like a salad or steak, it can be nice to get a little burst of intense salt. But in a soup where the salt will be fully dissolved, might as well use whatever's cheapest.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Varieties of salt and cooking

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:06 am

Pickling salt reduces unappealing cloudiness in stored product.

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