What Type of Salt to Buy for Cooking
Buy fine sea salt and be on your way to better eating habits. Fine sea salt is definitely not a 1:1 substitute for regular table salt; however, it does have many nutritional benefits. In fact, it is often considered the healthiest salt available today. Let me explain.
Most commercial table salt comes from a mine in Sweden. It is harvested and exported to the United States, where it is used as a regular table salt, unaware of the environmental impacts of its harvesting. The mining and harvesting for this salt are usually done when the water is relatively clean (free of ice and snow). During the harvesting, the rocks are open and there is very little in the way of erosion. Unfortunately, that is also when most of the environmental issues come into play.
When you buy fine sea salt, you will also be buying grey salt, which is harvested in different parts of the world, but is usually mined in the Pacific Northwest and in Australia. There are two types of sea salt, natural and artificial. Natural sea salt comes directly from the ocean and contains traces of magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, and other minerals found naturally in seawater.
Artificial sea salt is made by harvesting from the ocean with machines that break up the rock and sprinkle it with various chemicals. Each product will vary, depending on the type of machine and its ingredients. Most artificial sea salt is made to be much more soluble and less absorbent than natural sea salt, which is what makes it ideal for use in making soap. One of the best selling brands of artificial sea salt on the market is called Himalayan salt, which is popular for its absorption properties. Many cosmetic companies, as well as health food stores, purchase Himalayan to make soaps and skin products that are both healthy and luxurious.
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to buying fine sea salt and other products made from it is that there is an important difference between coarse sea salt and fine salt. Coarse salt is often made by draining ocean water and then grinding it up, which makes the product much less absorbent. This means that it is not suitable for use in many of the skin care products that require the use of less absorbent ingredients. In addition, coarser sea salt tends to scratch against the skin and can be irritating if a person is prone to irritation. However, most people do not consider this important enough to think about.
The reason that it is important to buy fine sea salt that is made from the actual salt mined by the locals rather than some manufactured product is that the locals extract the minerals and salts from the rock by hand. Therefore, each piece is slightly different. Furthermore, it is a very labor-intensive process. As a result, it is easier for local producers to make sure that each salt product is just as natural and pure as possible. If you have ever purchased “stabilized” sea salt, or another form of fake salt that you are not fooled by, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Not all natural sea salt is the same.
Some sea salt recipes call for large flakes, while others will need fine grains. What kind you buy depends on the recipe. A recipe may specify that a certain kind of coarse salt should be used instead of fine grains, for example. There is no right or wrong way to gauge the amount of coarse salt that a recipe requires but pickling salt must generally use flakes of about two millimeters in size or smaller. Otherwise, the salt will simply overwhelm the flavor of whatever it is being used for.
As fine grains go, however, you really don’t want to use the tiny granules of table salt, which are sometimes called “microsulfates”. These tiny beads are made up of sulfur and ammonia, which are in turn very harmful to your health. Table salt, whether natural or table salt, contains trace amounts of sulfur and ammonia, but not any amounts of sodium chloride. You should never eat table salt directly from a river or sea, because it will be extremely high in sodium chloride. If you are buying fine salt and you plan on making smoked fish that calls for blue salt, you should buy sea salt that contains a small amount of blue salt, as well.