Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Salt Demystified

Buying salt is like buying wine: pairing the correct salt for the dish is can be mystifying.

Kosher, sea, crystalline, coarse, flaked.  Help!
I have these salts and more in my cabinets and I'm not always sure which to choose and why.  Real Simple explains various salts and their differences so you know how to select the salt for your purposes.  

chart by "me"

Kosher salt has ragged edges, dissolves fast and its flavor is dispersed quickly.  It can be earth or sea salt.  It is called Kosher because it is the type of salt used to cure meat, a step in the koshering process.
  • Coarse Kosher salt can be used "topically" on meats, veggies, or anything.  Add to soups or sauces during the cooking process but NOT in baking when a more careful measurement is needed.
  • Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt is fine salt and the salt standard used by pastry chefs when creating recipes.  Use this salt for baking.
  • Crystalline sea salt is the perfect finishing salt.  Add after the cooking process for a burst of flavor.  Also perfect when making a fresh salad dressing.  This class of salt is that great variety of colored salts you see at the market and varies in flavor depending on the mineral content.
  • Flaked Sea Salt is the fastest dissolving salt of all due to the pyramid shape of the crystals.  Rub the crystals together between your fingers as you add it to steamed vegetables or shell fish.  This is the salt to use on caramel candy.
Hope you find this helpful.

I found a few useful tips on the Salt Works  website.  Here are some of them.

Peeling eggs - Eggs boiled in salted water peel more easily.

Poaching eggs - Poaching eggs over salted water helps set the egg whites.

Testing egg freshness - Place the egg in a cup of water to which two teaspoonfuls of salt has been added. A fresh egg sinks; a doubter will float.

Washing spinach - If spinach is washed in salted water, repeated cleanings will not be necessary.

Improving coffee - A pinch of salt in coffee will enhance the flavor and remove the bitterness of over-cooked coffee.

Cleaning stained cups - Rubbing with salt will remove stubborn tea or coffee stains from cups.

Cleaning sink drains - Pour a strong salt brine down the kitchen sink drain regularly to eliminate odors and keep grease from building up.

Brightening cutting boards - After washing them with soap and water, rub cutting boards with a damp cloth dipped in salt; the boards will be lighter and brighter. 

Whipping cream and beating egg whites - By adding a pinch of salt, cream will whip better and egg whites will beat faster and higher.

Keeping milk fresh - Adding a pinch of salt to milk will keep it fresh longer.

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