What is Salt?
Types of salt used in cooking every day is referred to as table salt or rock salt. Types of salt used in cooking are minerals. The chemical name for salt is sodium chloride (NaCL). Salt is used to season and flavor foods as well as an essential ingredient in certain types of food preservation. The mineral salt is necessary for all creatures for nutritional survival, in small quantities. Larger quantities of salt are not good from a nutritional standpoint because of the salt sodium content. There are many different types of salt used in cooking to choose from in the market place.
Salt is produced by several methods all of which have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years.
The first method is letting seawater sit in large pans, in the sun, allowing the seawater to evaporate leaving the salt. This is referred to as solar evaporation and the resulting product is called sea salt or solar salt (possibly organic salt).
Another method of obtaining salt is through mining. Rock salt and kosher salt are two types of salt that is mined.
A more modern method is to dissolve salt in water and boiling off the moisture leaving a more pure, refined product.
Types of Salt Used in Cooking
Table salt and kosher salt are the two most common types of salt used in cooking.
Preservation of food
Salt has been used as a preservative agent for thousands of years. Salted foods have little to no moisture after preservation. The extraction of salt from seawater dates back to 6000 BC as evidence in China suggests.
Used as a flavoring agent, salt provides essential chemical reactions that are necessary in bread making, roasting meats and making cheese.
Types of salt used in preserving foods adds color to foods and meat items as well as helping in the browning process of baked items and breads.
Other uses for salt include retarding agent for pickling, cheese and fermented vegetable dishes like sauerkraut.
Table Salt vs Sea Salt
There are companies that claim sea salt to be healthier alternative to table salt. The fact is that both are basically composed of the same chemical makeup and are therefor the same. The differences are in the taste. Other comparisons include iodized salt vs sea salt in which case the iodized salt may actually be a little better for you because of the included iodine and kosher salt vs sea salt which is again only a matter of taste. Pure sea salt will depend on the area it is harvested from.
Types of Salt
Unrefined salt is a product that is usually naturally produced by the evaporation of seawater leaving the desired product. Because of extra minerals being in these salts and the fact that no further processing is done most of these salts will be of different color than white. The Celtic sea salt is usually a gray color because of this.
Salts that are processed for human consumption and may have other chemicals added such as iodine.
Table salt is close to 99% sodium chloride with some additives to help with anti clumping. Normally referred to as granular salt.
Iodized salt has a minute amount of potassium iodide which is essential in preventing goiter.
Kosher salt is a flake table salt that does not have potassium iodide added. Kosher salt is produced in one of two ways, either by rolling the salt crystals under big metal rollers or through vacuum evaporation process. The name comes from it being an essential ingredient in making meats kosher for Jewish dietary regulations.
A mined salt that is kept in a large grain type format for pretzels
Natural sea salt is produced by evaporation of seawater. Organic sea salt is usually sold as a gourmet salts in health food stores and gourmet shops.
Salt that is in larger grains and is usually ground in a mortar or salt grinder. Salt in a coarse form is a denser grain and does not need anti-clumping agents.
Salt that is produced into flakes and dissolves easier and quicker.
A fancy description for Gourmet Sea salts.
An natural salt from the North Sea region that is grey in color due to the mineral content that is left in after production. This salt tends to be a little moist when purchased.
Fleur de Sel
The top-of-the-line gourmet sea salt. Fluer de Sal is skimmed off of evaporation pools by hand and can sell for as much as $50 US a pound.
Rock salt is mined salt that can be used in cooking, for pretzels or used in the production of ice cream.
Canning Salt or Pickling Salt (dairy salt)
A fine grained salt that is not iodized and is free from other additives. These are used in the making of brines or added to cheese to help with the fermentation process.
Flavored salts have added seasonings either to be used as a salt substitute or flavorings such as garlic salt, onion salt, etc.
A very finely ground salt that is used to flavor popcorn right before serving.
See Celtic Salt above.
Hawaiian Sea Salt
A new gourmet salt produced in Hawaii through evaporation. The inclusion of volcanic minerals makes either a red salt, pink salt or black salt depending on where it comes from. Out of the three types of salt from Hawaii the pink sea salt is the most prevalent.
Salt that is pink in color from India.
Pink Himalayan salt
Himalayan pink salt is natural rock salt that is mined in Pakistan. It has a pink or off white color and it is used for cooking and bath products.
Italian Sea Salt
Gourmet sea salt produced through evaporation from Mediterranean seawater in Scicily.
Any sea salt that is unrefined and unaltered. No “certified” organic rules exist in the US at this time.
Should be a gourmet salt that is produced through the use of wood smoke for flavoring and not the addition of liquid smoke products. Smoked salt usually is a sea salt variety.
A salt substitute is another seasoning or chemical that has similar flavorings as salt but with low or no sodium content for those that are watching salt intake due to health reasons.