Secret ingredients. We all love them and we all want to be in the know. So I’ll let you in on a secret ingredient that professional chefs use all the time. Salt! No, not just any salt. They know which salt to use to bring out the best in whatever dish they are creating.
There are all kinds of choices when it comes to salt but let’s take a look at the basics- Kosher, sea, or table salt.
Heavily processed to eliminate trace elements, table salt is mined from underground salt deposits and is bleached, heated and contains an additive, calcium silicate, to prevent clumping. Imparting a “sharper” flavor than kosher or sea salt, its fine crystals are considered *saltier than kosher salt.
Iodized table salt means that iodine has been added. When buying table salt I always recommend iodized (Read on to find out why.)
Kosher salt can be made by compacting smaller granular flakes into larger irregular platelet shaped flakes or grown this way via the evaporation process. Minimally refined and sourced from either underground deposits or evaporated seawater, kosher salt tastes “less salty” than table or sea salt.
Kosher salt originally got its name from the Jewish practice of koshering meats. When applied to butchered meat, its larger flakes allow the salt to easily draw blood without over-salting the meat.
These larger flakes also hold moisture in. That’s why it’s the perfect salt for meat. It keeps pork chops tender, steaks juicy, and chicken breast moist. See for yourself. Salt one chicken breast with table salt and another with kosher salt. The one with kosher salt will retain its moisture much better than the chicken breast salted with table salt.
Sea salt is harvested directly from evaporated seawater or underground resources. If any processing occurs it is usually minimal. Sea salts from around the world are coveted for their unique flavors, colors, and trace minerals. Sea salt can be costly, so keep in mind that its flavor is lost in the cooking process and is best used after cooking, or in applications that do not require cooking.
Whether pink, gray, black or white, sea salts will contain different minerals and impart various flavors, depending on the environment from which they were harvested. Enjoy trying different kinds of sea salt over steamed veggies, on sliced tomatoes and salads, and around the rim of your favorite cocktail.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced, natural alternative to table salt, I highly recommend Redmond Sea Salt for everyday use. (See next paragraph for further explanation.)
We can’t talk about salt without including iodine. Iodine is essential for normal thyroid function. In fact iodine deficiency is considered “the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.” Thus it is important to buy iodized table salt.
If you prefer to use all natural sea salt, then Redmond Sea Salt is an excellent choice. It is harvested in Redmond, Utah and is not processed or altered in any way. It contains trace minerals, including iodine (not as much as iodized table salt, however, Redmond Sea Salt claims it is more readily absorbed than the iodine we find in table salt) and can be found at many grocery stores.
Table salt that does not have iodine is good for neti-pots and gargles. I keep a container in my medicine cabinet for these occasions.
Whether it’s on the rim of the glass of your favorite margarita, the finishing touch on your famous green beans or a sprinkle on top of those homemade caramels, salt can be the finishing touch that makes friends and family want to know your secret ingredient.
If a recipe specifically calls for “table salt” or “kosher salt” it is best to use what is called for, as a teaspoon of table salt is the equivalent of a tablespoon of kosher salt.
As a general rule, I always use Kosher salt on un-cooked meat. There is no easier way to turn out a tender and juicy piece of meat than generously salting with Kosher salt before cooking.
*By weight, sea salt, kosher salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium. That being said, when salt is called for in a recipe, it is generally not measured by weight, but volume.
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