Salts

Salt is made up of crystals of sodium chloride. Most table salt is a refied type of rock salt, which is mined underground, milled into very small grains and treated to ensure that it pours easily. Some brands have added iodine for those who prefer it. Less common is sea salt, sometimes known as gros sel or “cooking salt”, which is obtained by the evaporation of salt from sea water. The crystals are usually larger and may have a light flavour of their own, due to minor impurities that remain in the salt. In some regions traditional methods are used to prepare the salt; sea water is channelled into open pans and allowed to evaporate naturally in the heat of the sun. Salt may also be flavoured with other ingredients, such as mixed spices, celery, or garlic. Some sea salt is cold smoked (smoked with wood chippings at cold temperatures).

Table salt

The ultimate all-purpose salt in the kitchen. It has a straightforward salty taste that makes it perfect for use at the table as a seasoning and across the board  in all types of general cooking.

Rock salt crystals

The commonest form of salt with a plain, salty taste. It is mined rather than evaporated from sea water. The best choice for use in a salt grinder and for pickling onions, gherkins, or walnuts.

Black salt

The colour of this lava salt is due to various impurities that give it a distinctive smoky, bitter taste. It is an important ingredient in chat masala spice mix, which is used in many Indian curries.

Celery salt

This has a strong flavour of celery from the ground celery seeds that are mixed with the table salt. Use to season soups, stews, and other dishes that call for fresh celery when it is not available

Maldon sea salt

Made in Maldon in Essex for over two hundred years, this salt is famous for its lack of bitterness. It is often the chef ’s fist choice for seasoning, due to its distinctive, clean, fresh flavour.

Himalayan rock salt

This is the name given to rock salt from Pakistan. It contains trace elements, which give it a strong mineral flavour and a touch of sulphur. Its pretty colour looks good on the table. Use as other salts.

Murray River pink salt

This Australian speciality is produced in the Murray Darling Basin. The peach-coloured flkes have a sweetish, slightly flral taste. Use sprinkled over sweeter foods, in salad dressings, and in baking.

Fleur de Sel sea salt

This is the purest form of sea salt, derived from the top layer of salt formed in salt pans. The Guérande area of France is famous for it. Use sparingly, as it has a sharp, pure, salty flavour.

Garlic salt

This has a concentrated garlic taste from the powdered dried garlic that is mixed with the table salt. Use it to season soups, stews, and other dishes when fresh garlic is not available.

Sel épicé

Spiced salt has a mixed herb and spice flavour, depending on the added ingredients chosen by the producer. Used widely in French cooking, particularly in salad dressings, soups, and stews.

Smoked sea salt

Salty and lightly smoky taste. Use to add interest to simple dishes where the unusual flavour will be allowed to come through, such as chilled soups,white sauces, and grilled fish or chicken.

BUY Choose rock salt crystals or pickling salt for food preservation. Sea salt is unsuitable for food preservation because of the minerals it contains. Avoid table salt or iodized salt for pickles as they can cause clouding of the liquid or darkening of the food

STORE The storage life for salt is indefinite; however, it should be kept in an airtight container as it will take up moisture from the air and become lumpy. If this happens, dry in the oven and break up the lumps. Iodized salt may turn yellow, but this is harmless.

EAT Use as a condiment, seasoning, and a food preserver.

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