If you think dinner is not worth eating without salt, you’re in good company. Wars have been fought over salt, and salt was at one time traded ounce-for-ounce for gold. “Salary” is derived from the use of salt in Roman times, when it was both a component of soldiers’ pay and a form of currency.
But, not all salt is the same. Salt is one of the top ingredients where we think it’s most worth it to invest in higher quality* Here’s a quick line-up of our favs:
- Celtic Sea Salt: Light grey in color, coarser and moister than traditional table salt, it can be used for cooking or as a condiment. Naturally harvested, many praise it for its high mineral content (and rumored health benefits), but I love it for its taste. Hands-down the best salt – we call it “magic salt” in our house because it makes everything taste so much better.
- Pink Himalayan Sea Salt: This one has been popping up everywhere of late – even Costco’s Kirkland private label brand has it’s own version. Sourced from the foothills of the world’s second largest salt mine, this pinkish/red salt gets its tint from iron oxide and contains up to 10 different minerals. Generally more affordable then Celtic Sea Salt, and a good substitute.
- Salty sauces: In many East Asian recipes, soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce are used instead of traditional added salt – to delicious effect.
- Kosher Salt: Larger and slightly coarser than table salt. A good option if you want to explore beyond basic salt but stay in familiar territory.
- Refined Table Salt: Iodized, bleached, and mixed with anti-caking ingredients, this salt I grew up on now seems too bland to bother with.
- Tasty tiny tin of salt: Artisanal salt’s are popping up all over the US now, such as Jacobsen Salt Company variation’s, which are hand-harvested here in the Pacific Northwest. This tiny tin can be carried in your purse – and takes your weekend getaway from camping to “glamping”.
What are your favorite salts? Do they vary by type of dish (e.g., baking vs salads vs meats?) Do you prefer recipes that say “salt to taste” or specify how much salt?
To Buy Salts:
Other Salts We Love:
Not Without Salt: Popular food blogger Ashley Rodriguez shares her love for salt as well as other delicious dishes. Later this week, we’ll let you in on a sweet and salty surprise she’s been whipping up!
NPR’s The Salt: NPR’s food blog, appropriately named and always on point with what’s trending in the food and cooking world. We thank you for keeping us informed Aubrey, Dan and staff!
Bibliography/to learn more:
Salt: A World History, by Mark Kurlansky
*Here at gatheredtable, we generally believe that better quality ingredients means better tasting food – but we also work on a budget and know many of you do too… so we will often provide our point of view on when it’s worth it to trade up and splurge and when to trade down and save $.