Not sure on your salts? Let’s start with the most common salts used in cooking: sea salt, table salt and kosher salt.
Table salt is harvested from salt deposits, after which it is refined and ground into a fine seasoning. Certain trace minerals are lost during the refining process, and anti-caking agents are added in to stop the salt from clumping.
This makes table salt one of the least mineral-rich salts, but also one of the most readily available.
As it is a finely ground salt, the sodium-chloride flavour profile isn’t as complex as chunkier varieties, like rock salt. That’s why table salt is usually left to season food once the food has been served (at the table), rather than during cooking, where the flavour could dissipate.
Where table salt is harvested from salt deposits, sea salt is harvested from evaporated sea water (the name gives it away a little).
The refining process is not as intense as table salt and, as such, the grains are much coarser and chunkier, and they contain a lot of their trace minerals, like zinc and potassium.
As sea salt has a more complex flavour profile than table salt, it is a good salt to use during cooking to enhance taste, but you could also use it at the table for a big hit of salty goodness. (I sprinkle sea salt crystals on my salted caramel cookies when they’re fresh out of the oven. It’s very good.)
How about if you’re wondering what the difference is between sea salt and rock salt? Well, you would be better of asking what the difference is between table salt and rock salt.
Table salt is essentially a refined type of rock salt, so while you get more minerals in rock salt vs table salt, you won’t get the same flavour hit from either as you do from sea salt.
Kosher salt is fairly uncommon in the UK and, if you have seen it, it is probably in an American recipe. Interestingly, the American chefs I’ve watched online swear by the stuff. So, what’s the difference?
Well, kosher salt is special because it is free of iodine (sea salt and table salt are iodised). Without the metallic iodine taste, kosher salt tastes a lot better than other varieties straight out of the tub. This is why it’s so frequently touted as a top-quality meat seasoner.
There’s also texture to consider. Kosher salt is far coarser than table salt or sea salt, which helps with releasing depth of flavour. It’s also flakier, meaning it dissolves into foods quicker.
Having said this, you can swap in regular sea salt with kosher salt if you can’t find any in the shops, although the flavour won’t *quite* be there. Get kosher salt if you can.
You might see garlic salt and celery salt in your recipes and ascertain that you can just swap in regular salt. Is that okay?
Yeah, it’s okay. The flavour won’t be exactly as the recipe states, but you can easily get around that by adding 1 part garlic powder to 3 parts table salt for garlic salt and 1 part ground celery seeds to 3 parts table salt for celery salt. It will save you a bit of money – and space in the cupboard – too.
Salt isn’t unhealthy when consumed in moderation, but if you are trying to limit the amount of sodium you’re eating, Himalayan pink salt is your best bet.
It’s harvested by hand, which makes it the purest form of salt in the world currently. As for the pink colour, that isn’t a feat of clever food colouring – it’s the combination of 84 minerals that give it the iconic rose hues and a bold flavour profile.