salt is a necessity. it not only flavors food, but is the oldest natural food preservative in the world. it also keeps our bodies functioning optimally when we keep the intake around 1500 mg a day. but this is not a health post, so i digress.
a modestly seasoned treat is a great way to hit that sodium requirement. any baking recipe you use should have salt in it, although using unsalted butter should be a given. i find that with less than a half teaspoon of salt for every cup and a half of flour, bland results are almost guaranteed. consider your other ingredients too: nuts, raisins, chocolate, spices. they all play off of salt differently, so see what works for you.
ok, we all agree that salt is mandatory for living a great life. but what kind should you use? and when? since all salt is technically sodium chloride, the nuances result from where it's harvested and how it's processed. these variances affect flavor, color, mineral content, texture and crystalline structure.
this image shows three types of salt. from left to right: flake sea salt, fine sea salt, and kosher salt.
the flake sea salt has pyramid shaped granules that are the result of a special evaporation technique called the alberger process. the flakes are delicate, crush easily, and an optimal choice for "finishing" anything! we use it on our chocolate chip. but don't limit yourself; this salt will heighten just about any culinary experience. think: steak, buttered corn bread, caprese, and ice cream. yeah, i said it. it goes with everything, but less is more- so salt responsibly. maldon brand is ubiquitous with this style of salt. but you can find an equally respectable version at trader joe's.
fine sea salt is what it sounds like. it dissolves rapidly and makes a perfect choice for readjusting flavors tout suite. think salmon that just came off the grill or a salad that needs a lift. this salt can vary greatly in color depending on the minerals found where it's harvested- like pink himalayan and hawaiian black lava salt. if someone asks you to pass the salt at your next dinner party, present this and resist the urge to remove them from the premises.
kosher salt is the reigning heavyweight champ of the modern kitchen. it's inexpensive and versatile. from cake batter to soups, this salt gets the job done. the kosher salt crystal is flat and coarse which aids in the traditional use of the salt (removing surface blood from meat). any kind will do, but check the back of the box for "anti-caking" ingredients- as true salt snobs will detect their after taste.
iodized (table salt) has no place in this post- or your cabinet. you have my permission to throw out that ancient canister now. seriously. if you're concerned about your fancy salts lacking iodine fortification, there are more creative ways to get the 150 mg you need. some of the most iodine rich foods are: baked potato (eat the skin), lobster, plain yogurt, cranberries, cod, and seaweed.
class dismissed. get to saltin!
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