The Importance of Salt

P1010479Here’s the deal with salt.  It is the most important ingredient in your kitchen.

Seriously, it is.  You use it in 99% of the recipes you make.  It adds flavor and brings out depth in a way no spice can.  Its addictive quality is unmatched by anything (except, perhaps some other white powders).

We hear all the time that salt is bad for you.  It raises your blood pressure, gives you heart disease, is in everything we eat and in mass quantities so you can’t avoid it but you must!

No, those are lies.  Salt, like everything else we eat, is totally fine in moderation.  When you are making your own food, you control the amount of salt in your dishes.  And when you use high quality salt, you realize how important it can be in making food taste magnificent.

I may be a poor college student, but I have five types of salt. Some are better than others, and throughout this year, I’ve realized how great it can be to have salt that is different, better, than the standard table salt variety.

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Left in the kitchen by the previous owners, we have iodized salt.  Table salt.  This stuff does not have many purposes.  Some consider it better for baking because it distributes more evenly than kosher salt, do to its smaller granules.  This is sort of true.  Yes it will make your food more evenly salty, but the flavor of iodized salt wants quite a bit and therefore we only use it to salt pasta and are counting down the days until we run out and can gleefully throw the box in the trash.

Kosher salt is my all purpose salt.  We ran out of our kosher salt recently and bought more immediately.  I use kosher salt in baking, and have never had any problems with “pockets of salt” in my baked goods.  Kosher salt is also great for salting savory foods.  It is less “salty” than iodized salt and has a far better flavor.  The larger granules give a bit of crunch and let you know that you are actually ingesting salt.

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Maldon sea salt is one of our fancy salts.  I use it when making dishes where salt is one of the main flavor components.  If making salted butter caramels, use the flaky salt.  When frying an egg in the morning, use the flaky salt.  When eating tuna straight out of the can with a bit of mustard, flaky salt.  It costs about $12 for a box, but it is completely worth it and I highly recommend it.

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Then come the super fancy salts, brought by my roommate, Ms. Slug from her hometown in Fancyville, Connecticut.  Totally unnecessary in a household kitchen, but a playful addition just the same.  Both salts were gifts, and I’m quite content Slug decided to share them with us.

First, she brought saffron salt.  Its a kosher salt, lightly orange, with actual saffron threads strewn throughout.  This stuff is great if you’re eating chickpeas out of the can.  Its also wonderful on eggs, especially scrambled ones.  We use it a lot in risotto.  And sometimes, we even eat it with that can of tuna.

Then we have the pièce de resistance, truffle salt.  Ms. Slug loves truffles.  This is possibly because truffles smell like the essence of man.  No actually, check it.

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This salt is strong.  A little goes a long way.  And unlike Sluggy, I don’t want truffles (or man essence) on everything I eat, so I use this stuff sparingly.  It works well on eggs, its true, but its better in mashed potatoes, with tortilla espanola, somewhere it can shine and show its true depth of flavor.

Make sure to use a spoon to dish it out, cause once that scent gets on your hands, damn, do you smell fine all day.  But also, like a man.

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13 comments
    • Eliza B said:

      Thanks. I had an awesome time writing about the funny qualities of salt. Glad you enjoyed it!

  1. Barty Crouch Jr. said:

    dis rulz. salt rulz. u rul.

  2. Esther B. said:

    mmm salt. best salt ever is the stuff that I bought Ethiopia likely from the Danakil Depression.

    • Eliza B said:

      Esther, you must share your fancy salt. I would love to have six types of salt.

  3. Good post–I’ve been cooking and baking for… let’s see… quite a while now, but I’ve just recently started to realize the different kinds of salt. Kosher’s our go-to. Okay, pretty much our only, but at least now I’m aware of some of the possibilities.

    One note to add to what you said about the health problems associated with too much salt: we typically only get “too much” if we’re eating a lot of processed food, which is pretty much all high in salt both because of what it does for flavor and its action as a preservative. If you’re making food at home from fresh ingredients, you’re probably good. Use as much as you want.

    • Eliza B said:

      Kosher is far better than iodized, and is useful in pretty much ever way in the kitchen. Maldon is a good first foray into fancy salt. I learned about it from the cookbook “A Girl and Her Pig” by April Bloomfield, and also from my mother of course. And if you ever to go France, fleur de sel is the best salt there is, it just costs an absurd amount in the US.

      I agree we only get too much salt if we are eating lots of processed foods, but many seem to think salt is bad for you period. And I do think its important to use in moderation, just like any other ingredient. But I guess I’m big on moderation in the kitchen. Except for with butter.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! Its really nice to hear from you.

  4. Dad said:

    So many LOL moments in your blog posting. Plus, very instructive and inventive thoughts on baking and ice cream making. I appreciate the cameo I received.

    • Eliza B said:

      Of course Father! Thanks for being so supportive of the blog. I’m sure you shall make more cameos once I return home. Or perhaps there will just be more Jethro photos.

  5. Elyn Ratcliffe said:

    Hi Eliza, I’m a friend of your Dad’s on Facebook, and that’s how I found you. Love your blog (your writing is delightful) and love salt! Brought a small pot of le saunier de camargue fleur de sel back with me from France last summer and have been living in fear ever since of what I will do when it is gone …. I sprinkle it on everything, it makes tomatoes absolutely SING and you haven’t lived until you’ve put it on watermelon! Looking forward to reading more of your posts! Elyn

    • Eliza B said:

      Thank you so much for reading! The French definitely have the best salt. I studied abroad in Paris last year and was able to stay in an apartment while there. One of the few things left to us by our “landlord” was some nice fleur de sel. The flavor is incomparable. But Maldon Sea Salt, although not cheap, has been a good replacement since coming back to the states. It too can bring out flavors in tomatoes one previously didn’t think were there. One of my favorite salads is literally just tomatoes, salt, a bit of olive oil, and some crusty bread to mop up the juices. Ah summertime foods.

  6. Your writing IS delightful. I really enjoyed this post – and actually I only just found it now – sometimes I miss things in the reader. I also love salt – and completely agree – all things (except love) in moderation!

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