For centuries both cooks and physicians
have realized that salt is not only an essential component to good health but makes food
more palatable, bringing out the essential flavor of a dish (even a sweet one) in a way no
other ingredient on earth possibly can.
Table Salt: A fine-grained refined salt with additives that
make it free-flowing, is mainly used in cooking and as a table condiment. It's what most
of us grew up on.
Today salt is inexpensive and universally available, but that wasn't always the case.
Because of its importance in food preservation and the fact that the human body requires
it (for the regulation of fluid balance), salt has been an extremely valuable commodity
throughout the ages. It was even once used as a method of exchange — Roman soldiers
received a salt allowance as part of their pay. Salt was valued by the ancient Hebrews and
Greeks, throughout the Middle Ages and well into the 19th century when it began to become
more plentiful and therefore reasonable in price. Salt (sodium chloride) comes either from
salt mines or from the sea. Most of today's salt is mined and comes from large deposits
left by dried salt lakes throughout the world.
Types of Salt
Iodized Salt: Is table salt with added iodine
(sodium iodide) — particularly important in areas that lack natural iodine.
Kosher Salt: Is an additive-free coarse-grained salt. It's used
by some Jews in the preparation of meat, as well as by gourmet cooks and chefs who prefer
its texture and flavor. Also called "coarse salt".
Sea Salt: Is the type used down through the ages and is the result of the evaporation of
seawater — the more costly of the two processes. It comes in fine-grained or larger
Pickling Salt: Is a fine-grained salt used to make
brines for pickles, sauerkraut, etc. It contains no additives, which would cloud the
Rock Salt: Has a grayish cast because it's not as refined as other salts, which means it
retains more minerals and harmless impurities. It comes in chunky crystals and is used
predominantly by combining with ice to make ice cream in crank-style ice-cream makers. It
is not recommended for cooking and table use.
Sour Salt: Also called citric salt, is extracted from acidic fruits, such as lemons and
limes. It's used to add tartness to traditional dishes like Borscht.
Seasoned Salt: Is regular salt combined with other flavoring ingredients, examples
being onion salt, garlic salt and celery salt.
Salt Substitutes: Frequently used by those on low-salt diets, are products containing
little or no sodium.