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Jewish Recipes --> Jewish and Israeli Foods --> Sea Salt & Gourmet Salts

Sea Salt & Gourmet Salts - Guide

Until recently sea salt was considered a basic commodity—sea salt was just salt! Now however, gourmet chefs, in homes and in restaurants, have learned to appreciate and distinguish between the distinctive qualities of the many varieties of gourmet sea salts and the ways these salts enhance the flavors and finish of foods. The purpose of this reference guide is to point out the distinguishing differences among these deliciously unique sea salts, and also to define each so you can choose the perfect gourmet sea salt for your cooking needs.

Sea salt is more of a "finishing" salt than kosher salt. You could use sea salt exclusively if it won't break your budget, but in many uses, kosher salt is just fine, for example: brining, adding to pasta water, and in cooking generally.

Sea salt is at its best sprinkled on before serving -- think: cooked green beans sprinkled with sea salt.

Chemically there is virtually no difference between table salt, kosher salt, and fancy sea salt. All of them are close to 100 percent pure NaCl (sodium chloride), with a few trace elements thrown in. In the case of table salt, those additives are there to prevent it from caking, while for sea salt, the additives are there naturally when the salt is harvested from the ocean.

Dissolve those salts in water side by side, and the differences between them become nearly indistinguishable, just as they are when you use them to season your food.

Sea Salt Types:
  • Celtic Sea Salt®: is authentic, unprocessed, gourmet, whole salt packed full of naturally occurring, essential minerals. Absolutely no additives or anything removed from the salt that would alter it. A brand name and trademark, since 1976. Kosher.
  •  Coarse Salt: Refers to sea salt or kosher salt, salt that has a much larger grain to it than common table salt.
  • Finishing Salt: Distinctive salts that add something special when sprinkled on food. Some finishing salts can also be used as cooking salts. A good finishing salt has unique mineral, moisture, and crystal qualities that play off your food to create more flavor, better texture, and new beauty.
  • Flake Salt:  A category of salt characterized by their dry, plate-like ("lamellose") crystals. Their structure is a result of differing growth rates between the faces and edges of the crystal, an effect that can be achieved in various ways. Flake salts may occur naturally but can also be produced by a variety of methods, including boiling brine over metal salt pans or evaporating it in greenhouse solar evaporators. The technologies used as well as atmospheric conditions can yield varying crystal structures. Flake salts can form as irregular shavings, pyramidal shapes, boxes, or potato chip-like laminated crystals. These salts tend to have lower trace mineral content than other salts, giving them a stronger salty taste. Most form as thin, flattened out crystals with a large surface area and low mass that give them a crunchy texture and relatively fast dissolution rate. Because of the salts' delicate structures, selmeliers tend to use them as finishing salts.
  • Fleur de Sel: "flower of salt" in French; is a hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans.
  • French Sea Salt: Hand-harvested, stone ground sea salt from the protected Isle of Noirmoutier, Brittany, France. Also known as Fleur de Sel.
  • Grinder Salt: Extra Coarse Sea Salt crystals for use in salt grinders
  • Hawaiian Sea Salt: Traditional Hawaiian table salt, called Alaea, is an unprocessed salt that is rich in natural seawater minerals. The Alaea salt is reddish- brown in color due to the addition of a red volcanic clay called Alaea. This addition does not alter the salt’s taste or smell, but does significantly increase its health benefits; it is composed of over 80 unique minerals. Alaea salt has a delicate and smooth flavor that is mellower and less salty than regular table salt, and its texture is intensely crunchy.
  • Italian Sea Salt: This salt comes from the coasts of Italy, where the deep green Mediterranean Ocean is left in ponds to evaporate in the tropical sun. An excellent all purpose salt rich in minerals that works well for cooking and in condiment mills.
  • Kala Namak: Also known as black salt is a salty and pungent-smelling condiment used in south Asia. Several impurities lend the salt its colour and the smell is mainly due to its sulfur content.
  • Kosher salt: Kosher salt by definition is no different from ordinary table salt from a kosher standpoint. The difference lies in the fact that kosher salt, unlike regular table salt, does not have any additives except for a free-flowing agent such as sodium ferrocyanide.
    -- Kosher salt has larger grains than ordinary table salt and as such must be measured differently.
    -- Because the grains in Kosher salt are larger than that of table salt, it occupies more space but is equal in weight.
    -- For this reason, it requires twice the kosher salt to equal the same weight of table salt.
    -- Kosher salt is not used in baking normally due to the fact that it does not dissolve as well unless there is ample liquid to facilitate it.
  • Organic Salt: Salt is a mineral, not a plant, so it cannot be "organically grown." However, certified organic salt is guaranteed to be harvested from a protected, pollution-free environment and to be unrefined.
  • Sea Salt: Collected from ocean or sea water through boiling or evaporation by sun and wind. Available in many different varieties and in grinds that range from coarse to extra-fine.
  • Smoked Sea Salt: Natural smoked salt is coarse sea salt that's been smoked over wood fires; it can range in color from light grey to dark brown. Using smoked salt lends an assertive smoky aroma and flavor to foods of all kinds, from grilled fish to creamy soups and corn-on-the-cob.
  • Table Salt: Most common salt also known as fine salt. Often contains additives designed to slow moisture absorption so that it's easier to pour in a salt shaker

Sept 2005 - 2013 - Kosher Recipes - Kosher Cooking - Jewish Cooking - Jewish Recipes - Jewish Foods- Jewish Foods
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Bagels.