No one likes a bland dish or a meal that’s way too salty. If you’re having a hard time reaching a happy medium with your cooking, you may need to switch up the type of salt you’re using. While most of us are familiar with table salt, there are many other types of edible salts, and each one complements a dish in its own way with different textures and flavors—and there are more creative ways you can be using salt in your cooking, and even cleaning. Understanding when and how to use these different types of salt can give your meal an instant upgrade.
Look inside most salt shakers, and you’ll find table salt, also known as refined salt or iodized salt. Table salt is finely ground with impurities removed and an anti-caking agent added. This gives it a smooth, fine texture. Because it is so highly processed, table salt has a slightly weaker flavor than other salts, which means it’s best kept exactly where you would think: at the table for last-minute seasoning. It’s also great for baking because the even consistency allows for accuracy when you pour it into a measuring spoon.
Despite its name, not all kosher salt is actually kosher. The moniker comes from the Jewish tradition of using a coarser type of salt to remove surface fluids from meat, also known as koshering. Because kosher salt grains are flakier than regular table salt, they provide more concentrated bursts of flavor, which makes kosher salt especially good for sprinkling over meats or salting water. You’re less likely to over-salt your dishes when using kosher salt, as it’s easier to evaluate how much you’re using when the salt crystals are larger and don’t dissolve as quickly.
As you can probably guess, sea salt is harvested from evaporated sea water. It is much less processed than table salt, which means it retains some trace minerals that contribute to its many colors and textures. Because of these minerals, sea salt tends to have a more complex flavor. It makes a great seasoning for salads or to bring a little zip to sautéed vegetables.
This brightly colored salt gets its vibrant pink tone from the large amount of trace minerals it contains. Hand-harvested from a salt mine in Pakistan, the salt is unprocessed, giving it a bold flavor. Due to its strong taste and uneven consistency, this salt isn’t ideal for cooking, but it’s perfect as a finishing salt — especially since it adds flair with its attractive hue.
When you’re feeling fancy, reach for the Fleur de Sel, a type of sea salt taken from the surface of salt evaporation ponds. Fleur de Sel crystals are delicate and thin. When exposed to high temperatures, they can melt, which means this salt shouldn’t be used for cooking. Instead, impress your guests with this fancy garnish by sprinkling a little on desserts, salads or fish right before serving.
Want to enjoy freshly ground salt at home? Get yourself a salt grinder and fill it up with your favorite type of edible salt.