Okay, so I was having trouble relaxing and winding down last night imagining all of you over-salting your food. So I wrote this blog post at 9 pm and I feel better already! So let’s dive right in… Is salt bad for you? Salt has a bad rap. So many people think that it’s unhealthy […]
Okay, so I was having trouble relaxing and winding down last night imagining all of you over-salting your food. So I wrote this blog post at 9 pm and I feel better already! So let’s dive right in…
Is salt bad for you?
Salt has a bad rap. So many people think that it’s unhealthy because for decades it was thought to be linked to high blood pressure. Since then, research has shown over and over again that salt actually does not cause high blood pressure.
So, unless you have an underlying condition of high blood pressure, DO NOT BE AFRAID OF SALT! Going on a low-salt diet is actually very dangerous and can cause serious electrolyte imbalances and other health issues. Our bodies need salt to live and our food needs salt to taste good! Basically, salt is life…
Why you should cook with more salt
One of the most common things home cooks struggle with is when to add salt and how much to add, often resulting in undersalted food. It’s often the main difference between a home-cooked meal and a restaurant meal — restaurants are not afraid to use salt. Salt gives life to food. It enhances the natural flavors of ingredients, makes meats juicier, and balances out sweetness and bitterness in food.
Adding salt to chocolate makes it taste more “chocolatey”, balancing out the bitterness and enhancing the sweetness. Sprinkling salt on a simple slice of tomato brings out its natural sweetness and juiciness.
You want to add salt in layers, rather than just adding it at the end. This will result in a more balanced flavor. You want every component in a dish to be properly salted. That is why I add salt to my recipes throughout the cooking process rather than all at once.
Basically, by adding salt to nourishing foods like vegetables, you will be more likely to eat and crave them because they will taste delicious!
Which salt should you be cooking with?
So there are a lot of salts out there and they come in all kinds of different shapes and sizes. Salts that have bigger, coarser crystals (kosher salt) will give you less salt for the same teaspoon measurement of a finer salt (sea salt or table salt), so it’s important that we’re all on the same page here!
Chemically, salt is ALL the same. So, let’s talk about the four most common types of salt and how they differ.
Table salt, which is usually what you find in the salt shakers at restaurants, is mined from underground salt deposits. Table salt crystals are very small and uniformly shaped crystals that have been processed heavily and have anti-caking agents added so that it doesn’t clump together and pours smoothly. It’s often used in baking.
Table salt was enriched with iodine in 1920 to help solve the problem of iodine deficiency in many parts of the world. Iodized salt adds a weird, unpleasant metallic flavor to food. So let’s get iodine from real food, like dairy products, eggs, fish, and seaweed.
Fine sea salt
Sea salt is made from evaporated ocean water or saltwater lakes. Minerals get extracted from the water into the salt, depending on the water source. This is what gives some sea salts their color.
Sea salt is often thought of as the “healthier” of salts, but the reality is that any minerals extracted in the salt are so negligible that it really isn’t worth it. Also since it’s coming from seawater, it contains trace amounts of heavy metals and plastics (also negligible, so please don’t freak out!).
Himalayan pink salt
This popular pretty pink salt comes from a salt mine in Pakistan that gets its pink color from iron oxide. This salt became trendy because of its pretty color and it sounds fancy and exotic. Other than that, it doesn’t offer any real benefits.
Kosher salt does not actually refer to the kosher dietary guidelines. It’s called “kosher” because it’s really good for salting meat during the kosher process. The larger crystals make you less likely to oversell your food and it sticks to meat (and all foods in my opinion) really well. Kosher salt comes from land salt mines but is way less processed than table salt.
Kosher salt is the best salt for cooking because it sticks to food extremely well, is easier to distribute evenly over food, and is very “pinch-able”! It also doesn’t have any anti-caking agents or added iodine, making it a more natural product.
The two most popular brands are Morton’s Kosher Salt and Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. I prefer Diamond Crystal because it has more space between the salt crystals, which makes it less salty than Morton’s. It also seems to be the salt that most professional chefs use.
Which salt is the healthiest?
Our bodies need salt to live and our food needs salt to taste good. The amount of minerals extracted in certain salts is negligible in terms of flavor and nutrients. Given all of this, I think we should pick the salt that makes our food taste best and that is easiest to cook with.
ENTER: Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt! The flaky, irregular salt crystals stick to food extremely well and are extremely pinchable. It’s also the salt that will make you way less likely to oversell your food. If I haven’t converted you and you want to stick to fine sea salt, no problem! Just make sure you adjust for it in recipes.
Salt conversion chart
I use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt when testing all of my recipes. I highly recommend switching to it. It’s not expensive and can be bought in bulk!
If you’re sticking with fine sea salt or table salt, here is how to adjust (basically just use a bit less salt, and, as always, TASTE YOUR FOOD!)
I hope that clears up any questions on salt. If you have any more questions or are confused, post in the comment section or in the private Cooking Club Facebook group.
P.S. Flaky sea salt is totally worth the investment. It’s a finishing salt that adds a final touch of texture and flavor to a dish (from salads and vegetables to cookies and chocolate!). You only use a little bit to garnish, so it lasts a long time. My favorite is Maldon Salt.