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Ingredients

12 Types of Salt and What They're Best Used For

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Salt is a fundamental ingredient in cooking that enhances flavors, balances sweetness, and can even be a preservative. Choosing the right type of salt for a particular dish or cooking method is essential to achieve the desired taste and texture.

Table salt inside a salt shaker on a wooden table

Why is salt important?

While salt sometimes gets a bad reputation, salt is a critical and essential mineral in the human body. It has a number of important roles including maintaining proper nerve function, but it's also used in the regulation of fluids in your body. If you've ever had a salt craving, there's some research to show you may be dehydrated. But aside from the critical aspects of salt, for culinary purposes - there is little that is more important than salt in the flavor of food. It's a flavor booster that can take drab potatoes into a 5 star treat. Learning how to work with different types of salt can prove to take your meals to a whole new level.


How do you know when to use each type of salt and how much you should use?

Great question. And the answer is - we can't tell you. Yes, really! Merp, we know you came here looking for something different. Each salt has different properties and while there are best uses for each, it's very difficult to tell you how much salt to use. The answer is based on the type of salt, the manner of how you're using it and your own taste buds. The best way to learn what works for your taste and the tastes of the people you're cooking for is to... cook. Trial and error is your best friend and taste, taste, taste.


Here are 12 types of salt commonly found in kitchens, and the best uses for each.


1. TABLE SALT

This is the most common type of salt, and it's what you'll find in most salt shakers. It's highly refined, with all impurities removed. It's best used for general cooking, baking, and seasoning dishes during or after cooking. As you read the label, you'll noticed the words "iodized." Iodized salt is table salt that has been fortified with iodine, a trace element that is essential for human health. Iodine is a crucial component of thyroid hormones, which regulate the body's metabolism and play a significant role in overall growth and development. A lack of iodine in the diet can lead to a condition known as iodine deficiency, which can result in thyroid problems, developmental issues, and various health problems, particularly in pregnant women and children.


Iodized salt was introduced as a public health measure to combat iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) in many parts of the world. Adding iodine to salt is an effective way to ensure that people receive an adequate daily intake of this essential nutrient, as salt is a common and widely consumed ingredient in many foods.


close up of kosher salt

2. KOSHER SALT

Kosher salt has larger crystals than table salt, making it easier to pinch and sprinkle. It's a favorite among chefs for its ability to adhere well to food surfaces. It's great for seasoning meat before cooking and for brining. Kosher salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits and then processed to remove impurities. The name "kosher" refers to its use in koshering or preparing meat according to Jewish dietary laws, but it is not necessarily kosher-certified.


coarse kosher salt on a wooden spoon

3. SEA SALT

Sea salt is harvested from evaporated seawater and comes in various textures and colors, depending on where it's from. It often retains some minerals and impurities, giving it a slightly different flavor profile. This process can result in sea salt that retains some minerals and impurities, giving it a unique flavor. It's excellent for finishing dishes, as a garnish, or for use in recipes where its unique texture and flavor are appreciated.


close up of flakey salt on a spoon

4. FLAKEY SALT

Flakey salts, like Maldon salt, have thin, flat, irregular and delicate crystals. They are sea salts that have a very beautiful look and delicate crunch that make them perfect for gourmet presentation and finishing touches on grilled meats and desserts.



5. FLEUR DE SEL

Fleur de sel is salt that forms on the surface of seawater as it evaporates. Traditional French Fleur de sel comes from the coast of Brittany in France. Other countries often discarded this salt historically, but the rise of gourmet culture has seen a rise in countries harvesting it - specifically Spain and areas in Mexico. When harvested from that region, they are termed "Flor de sal." This type of salt is used as a finishing salt.