Salt enhances flavors and can change the structure of proteins and plant cells to improve taste and texture. The first time you omit the salt in a bread recipe you will get an unforgettable taste- in a very bland and not so delicious way! Salt makes bitter foods more palatable and enhances the sweetness in some. The size, shape, and mineral content in the salt affects its taste and how it interacts with other ingredients- so understanding the salt in your pantry and using it accordingly might help you get the most out of every bite.
Hint: Salt is the minerals sodium and chloride
For the record, our bodies need some sodium! But health data shows that most of us eat too much sodium, primarily in products where it is heavily used to preserve and process food. This can increase our risk of high blood pressure, fluid retention, and heart disease. Most people in the U.S. eat two times more salt each day than the recommended amount, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Those who feast heavily on packaged snacks, cereals, canned meat, preserved meat, cured meat, fast food, and packaged sauces can rise above the healthy and safe limits of the recommended 1500-2300 Milligrams of sodium each day. That’s roughly 1 teaspoon of salt a day. Our body needs roughly ¼ teaspoon for normal functioning.
Hint: The same amount of volume does not give the same sodium content!
Table Salt- Cost: $
Iodized salt means iodine has been added to prevent iodine deficiency. A heaping teaspoon can leave a strong after-taste in cooking and a very salty taste. Table salt has the most sodium by weight than the other salts, but it has its benefits of iodine, use, cost, and versatility. Almost every saltshaker is table salt. Best used for: soaking, cooking, and baking
Kosher Salt- $$
The name is derived from the koshering meat process. The taste is clean, and its larger crystals take longer to dissolve. kosher salt is less likely to contain additives like anti-caking agents and iodine. Because kosher salt has a flaky, coarse structure, it is particularly efficient at extracting blood. A teaspoon of kosher salt weighs far less than a teaspoon of regular salt. Don’t substitute one for the other at a 1:1 ratio or your food may end up too salty or too bland.
Best used for salting meat and general cooking
Sea Salt- $$
Sea salt is evaporated from saltwater. In its pure form, it is not highly processed, and it has plenty of trace minerals adding to compliment the flavors in food.
Best used for: salting meat, seafood, and vegetables
Himalayan Pink Salt- $$$
One of the newest salts with many minerals is Himalayan pink salt. It has many trace minerals- calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It’s being pushed as a healthy salt because of the minerals- but these minerals are also easy to find in other foods without added sodium. This salt adds lots of flavor to any dish and is best for cooking and finishing dishes. It is slightly lower in sodium than regular salt, but the true benefits are lost if you end up shaking too much to get the saltier taste of table salt.
Overall, if you are concerned you are eating too much salt just watch other high salt ingredients and seasonings. Using herbs, spices, lemon/lime juice, wine, and vinegar in recipes will certainly reduce reliance on salt as a primary flavor enhancer. It is not uncommon for foodies and chefs to have a few varieties of salt in their pantry using them accordingly. I am a big advocate of reducing high sodium foods and giving yourself balance by using salt in your cooking. Many canned products are available with no added salt as well.
Hint: No salt is sodium-free, but some salts by the nature of the taste and flavor could help you reduce the amount you add to your food which is ultimately the best healthful approach.
Confession- My best 2 - Himalayan and Table Salt Which ones are yours?