It’s easy to think of salt as just that white stuff we sprinkle on food when we’re cooking or reaching for the salt shaker at the dinner table, but this everyday ingredient can do so much more than that. The ancient food preservative and flavor enhancer has all kinds of important, often surprising uses: It can make certain kitchen tasks easier, improve the texture of foods like turkey, add elegance to dinner party presentations, and help scrub out the pans afterwards. Plus, since salt comes in a range of colors and textures—each with its own uses and flavor nuances—it helps to keep a collection on hand in the pantry. Ever tried using salt blocks or pink Himalayan salts?
Here are six creative ways to use salt to improve your cooking, eating, entertaining—and even clean-up.
1. Easily Peel Eggs
When you’re making deviled eggs or hard-boiled eggs, peeling the shells off without ruining the eggs can be the trickiest part. You can make the job a whole lot easier with our Egg Timer—which includes a piercer for easy shell removal—or you can get into the habit of adding about a teaspoon of salt to the water before you boil the eggs. When the eggs are done cooking, the shells will slide right off when you peel them, leaving the insides intact.
2. Roast a Juicier Turkey
Brining your turkey with salt will give you a moister, more flavorful roast—not to mention a more impressive Thanksgiving bird. To brine your turkey, let it soak in a mixture of salt and water, usually 1 cup of salt for each gallon of water, for about an hour per pound. The brine helps the meat retain water, making for a juicier dish. Plus, the salt mixture breaks down some of the proteins too, resulting in a more tender cut.
3. Cook Food Using Salt Blocks
Salt blocks come from the Himalayan mountain range in Pakistan, can be up to 250 million years old, and are considered by some to be among the purest salts available. Those pink slabs of salt are as versatile as they are attractive, but using them properly requires a bit of know-how.
Here’s how to cook with salt blocks: First, you’ll need to slowly heat the salt slab to keep it from cracking. You can do this by putting it in an unheated oven and setting the temperature to 250°F. When your oven thermometer hits that temperature, take the salt block out and let it cool for half an hour. Then put it back in the oven, this time leaving it in until the temperature reaches 400-450°F. Alternatively, you can heat the block over a gas burner on a low flame for 15-30 minutes. When the block is hot and ready to use, make sure to set it down on a surface that can withstand the heat.
You can cook with salt blocks in a variety of ways. To sear foods on a salt block, start by lightly drizzling the slab with olive oil, then place your meat, fish or vegetables on top, moving them around just as if you were cooking them in a pan. The salt block will impart a pleasantly salty, smoky flavor, but aim for a quick sear—since the longer you keep the food on the block, the more intense those nuances will get. To grill a butterflied chicken, press a heated salt block down on top of it, to help push the chicken onto the grill and add a salty note. For an easy way to cure salmon, sandwich it between two heated salt slabs and press it on both sides.
Keep in mind that once you’ve heated your salt block, it will stay hot for up to 30 minutes, but it can take hours for it to cool down completely.
4. Add Flair to Your Dinner Party
Looking for more ideas for how to use pink Himalayan salt? A sprinkle of the pink stuff adds a pop of color to everything from seared steaks to grilled fish to roasted vegetables. As for salt blocks, they can double as serving dishes for sushi, cheese, fruits, cold meats or even sorbets. Simply chill or freeze the blocks first, then arrange the food on top. Moist foods will absorb some of the salty flavor—and if you serve fish on a salt slab, after a while the salt will even begin to cure it.
5. Cool Drinks Quickly
Here’s a trick for speed-chilling your drinks faster than you can in the fridge, or even the freezer: Add salt to a bucket of cold water and ice, then put in drinks like sodas, beer or wine—and watch how quickly they cool off. A mix of salt and ice water can get so cold in a half-hour, it will even turn cream to ice cream.
6. Clean Up Your Mess
If your stove is covered in grease from oil splatters or grit from a bubbly sauce, try sprinkling the mess with salt and then wiping it up. It should come right off. Salt can also help loosen the baked-on food that gets stucks on pots and pans: Simply soak them in salt water before you wash them, and the gunk will slide off like magic.
Want a convenient way to store your salt? The Small Square Mini POP Containers have an airtight seal and are stackable for all the different types of salt in your collection.