Salt of the earth? Sea salt? Which is better and what’s the difference?
Nutritionally speaking, the difference in salts is really in the minerals they contain which will vary by location. China is the largest producer of salt, followed by the USA, but countries around the globe have salts of varying colors, tastes and mineral components.
Salt has a strong presence in our culinary and ancient history. Man’s relationship with salt goes back to ancient times, with writings of salt being used in ancient Babylon and Egypt. Salt was used to preserve food as well as mummies. Salt was very valuable, going bar to bar with gold in ancient trade routes and used as currency for Roman soldiers. Salt was a symbol of friendship and trust in the Middle Ages, and salt has a prominent place in many religions even today. Here are some other fun facts about salt.
Salt of the earth - Ancient seas have left caves of salt throughout the world that can be mined several ways. Deep-shaft mining is like mining for anything else and results in most of our rock salt (ice cream maker salt). Solution mining is done by introducing fresh water into these ancient beds. The water is pumped out and taken to a plant for evaporation and harvest. Most table salt is produced this way.
Most common is table salt which often has iodine and anti-caking agents in it.
Kosher Salt is not really kosher, but is iodine free, coarser, and one of the purest of salts.
Himalayan Seas Salt from Pakistan are very pure, used in spa treatments for their high concentration of minerals, and can hold heat or cold in block form. This salt is typically used to finish dishes.
Bolivian Rose salt comes from the Andes mountains and is high in iron. This salt is
perfect for use on pretzels, but is well rounded for use with most foods.
Sea salt - Erosion of rocks beneath the sea creates the salt of our waters. Evaporation by the sun is the most typical way to harvest salt from large bodies of water, but steam evaporation is used in some areas as well. The salt is harvested when a specific thickness of salt has accumulated in the drying beds, and is often done in low rainfall areas such as the Mediterranean and Australia.
Fleur de Sel - From France, this highly acclaimed, labor intensive salt is harvested by scraping crystals from the waters surface before they fall to the bottom. Traditionally harvested in Guérande, Brittany, this is a great finishing salt for fish, pork and vegetables.
Hawaiian Sea Salt red (from volcanic red clay) or black (added charcoal), comes fine or coarse, is full of trace minerals, and good finishing pork, seafood and ceviche.
Red Alaea SeaSalt - a Hawaiian salt typically used in Kalua Pig, Hawaiian Jerky and Poke, this salt is infused with red alae clay.
Black Lava salt is a true finishing salt with an earthy flavor and slight smokiness. Also used in cosmetic applications due to its detoxifying properties.
Grey - Sel Gris - found in France, is also known as Celtic Sea Salt and is used as a finishing and cooking salt. Best with fatty meats, roasted root vegetables, and even baking.
Alaskan Sea salt is very clean, and used as a finishing salt.
Bay of Fundy salt is a sweet salty clean tasting salt.
Bali Sea salt comes fine and coarse and is pyramid shaped.
Cornish Seas Salt (off the coast of England) has a classic salty taste, is harvested through evaporation and retains 60+ of its minerals.
Salt comes from around the world, in flake to granular form, fine to coarse, salty to sweet. We can season our salts with herbs, smoke them, cook on them, and always cook with them. Salt is necessary for our bodies to perform, and salt enhances the foods we eat. It even brings out the best of chocolate (ever wonder why you put salt in your chocolate chip cookies?)
Experiment with different salts. Dress up a salad with a course salt for crunch. Finish your next creation with a darker earthier salt or try smoked salt. Where can you find these salts? I love salttraders.com myself - try their salt sampler as a great introduction to salts.