Different Types of Salt for Your Cooking Needs
Salt is one of those elemental ingredients in life that most people can’t live without. Almost everyone has some type of salt on their table. Even if they don’t know how much salt is in what they are eating, they recognize table salt and know how to recognize its taste. For example, table salt is salty. But, do you know what other types of salt are out there?
A teaspoon of table salt typically contains about 2,000 mg of salt, but a single teaspoon of kosher or sea salt may only contain about 1,500 mg of salt. The reason for the variation in the amount of salt in the table salt is that table salt tends to have a coarse texture and sea salt tend to have a finer texture. Some varieties of sea salt also claim to contain less salt than table salt, although there is no scientific evidence to support such claims.
Salt is made from rock salts and minerals that come from ancient seas. There are many different types of rock salt, with the composition varying from place to place and therefore the concentration of different minerals will vary as well. Rock salt is used in most homes to season meats, crackers and baked goods. Sea salt is used in cookware and baking sheets, and it is used as a table salt substitute. Most commercially processed sea salt is very refined and stripped of any beneficial minerals that were naturally found in seawater.
When buying table salt, it is important to make sure that it is indeed table salt and not sea salt (or kosher salt). It’s easy to be fooled by labels that read “sespecially made for vegetarian diet” or “for lactose intolerance”. Table salt does not contain the necessary minerals that are good for our bodies. It’s important to read the label of ingredients carefully, particularly if you are buying food online.
The table salt that you buy should contain around 0.9% sodium chloride. While table salt does have a lower sodium content than sea salt, the amount of salt used is more and the way the salt is refined considerably lowers the sodium content. Sodium chloride is often included in the salt in order to make it more affordable.
Natural mined table salt is the only kind that is completely natural and unprocessed. All mined deposits are depleted, and so are the deposits that contain natural table salt. This table salt is usually very coarse and takes a lot of time to make. The process of mining involves blasting open rocks and then pumping out the rock salt that results. It is this processed rock salt that is shipped to stores around the country.
As far as the texture of the mined variety is concerned, it is very soft. It has a mesh like texture and does not have a lot of “give”. While this does not affect the flavor or the cost of the product, it does make it a very expensive product. In order to achieve a more coarse texture, especially one that has a natural “sea” flavor, many producers are using processes to add magnesium and other minerals to the table salt they produce.
One of the main reasons that it costs so much to get table salt is because of the extensive process that goes into its production. There is more than just sand and salt added to the rock. There are also oregano, calcium, zinc, copper, manganese and many other trace minerals that add to the overall “taste” of the product. For this reason, kosher table salt is not cheap, and while the “cheap” variety may be cheaper, it is generally considered inferior to the natural sea salt. If you are on a tight budget and want to salt your meats, you can still have great tasting food without spending a fortune on it.