• Demystify

    The Basics of Salt

  • – Food & Wine India

    As the most basic ingredient, people overlook the innovative ways of using salts to uplift food.

    Ask anyone what is the most important ingredient to store in the kitchen and they’ll say salt. Salt is universally in every cuisine the most important ingredient to bring out the flavor of the other ingredients. It has always been the supporter in highlighting the flavors to the tongue but never the one that adds to the flavor. This, however, is slowly changing. A lot can change between the different types of salt you use. Most of us just know the normal table salt but there’s so much more to know. Your food can have different flavours depending on which salt you use. Here’s a list of salts to change your outlook on food.

    • KOSHER SALT

    Texture: Coarse pieces. Look like crystals

    Used for: Used to season vegetables and meat before cooking. Since it doesn’t dissolve immediately and can be seen when put, it is better to use kosher salt to judge how even the application of salt is

    • SEA SALT

    Texture: Unrefined and coarser than table salt

    Used for: Used to add a burst of flavour to the food. Since it is unrefined, it can taste a little bitter or sour depending on where it came from

    • HIMALAYAN PINK SALT

    Texture: Coarse crystals of colours ranging from off-white to pink shades

    Used for: Used to rim margarita glasses for it’s bold flavor due it’s mineral content. Also used as finishing salt as finishing touch for a change in taste

    • KALA SALT

    Texture: Reddish-black granules

    Used for: Used in vegan and vegetarian dishes as it gives the flavour of eggs since it is made by putting it in a jar with charcoal, herbs, barks and seeds.

    • SMOKED SALT

    Texture: Brown sticky granules

    Used for: Used to flavour meats and healthier vegetables like potatoes to give it a smoked, charred flavour without the grill.

    • PICKLING SALT

    Texture: Feels exactly like normal table salt

    Used for: Used to pickle vegetables, as it doesn’t contain any added iodine or anti-caking agents that usually cause ugly discoloration of food if used for pickling.

    • ROCK SALT

    Texture: Large non-uniform chunks of grey

    Used for: Used to make ice-creams. In olden times it was used to make ice-cremas to regulate the temperature

    Also, a new and interesting concept that has risen in the past few years is the concept of Infused Salts. The flavours that infused salts can take are infinite. It all depends on how many ingredients you have in your kitchen. It’s a brilliant way to see an ingredient as simple as salt elevating your food to another level.

    These salts can be used for a variety of recipes ranging from cocktails to breads and desserts to savoury dishes. Your imagination can absolutely wild with these. One of the reasons infused salts are so popular is due to its versitality in usage. Since, they are so easy to make, they make a great way to give as homemade gifts for the cooks among your loved ones. Some interesting flavours are listed below:

    • ROSEMARY LEMON SALT

    Makes for a great seasoning for grilled meats, roasted chicken and ricotta cheese toasts

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup (220 grams) coarse sea salt
    • 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves finely chopped
    • Zest of 1 lemon grated

    Instructions

    Preheat the oven to 110 degrees C (230 degrees F).

    Zest the lemon and finely chop the rosemary (leaves only, discard the stem).

    Add the sea salt, rosemary and lemon zest to a food processor. Pulse until the salt becomes a little finer and everything is well mixed.

    Taste and increase the amount of flavorings, if desired.

    Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.

    Remove it from the oven and, if there are any lumps, pulse it in the food processor again.

    Let it cool for 5 minutes and store the rosemary-lemon sea salt in an airtight container or in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.

    Ideally, let it sit at least a day before using.

    The intensity of flavor will diminish over time, but it can last up to a year.

    • ORANGE SALT

    Make for a perfect addition to margaritas. The after taste of the salt on your glass is perfect.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup / 2.25 oz / 65 g flaky sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon citrus zest

    Instructions

    Preheat your oven to oven 105C. Combine the salt and citrus in a medium bowl and mix well. Really work the zest into the salt, making sure there aren’t any clumps of zest. Spread across a parchment lined baking sheet. If you’re making more than one flavor of salt, repeat this as many times as necessary. For example, this time I made 6 salts, and I arranged them across two baking sheets.

    Bake for 70 minutes, or until the citrus is completely dried out. Flecks of zest should crumble when pinched between your fingers. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. At this point you can pulse each salt a few times in a food processor if you like, which is what I do. Or, you can enjoy it as is. Salts keep in an air-tight jar for a couple of months.

    • ESPRESSO SALT

    Sprinkle on top of your chocolate cookies to give it a twist in flavour. You can also use it on your hot chocolate.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup flakey sea salt, like Maldon, or medium-grain kosher or sea salt
    • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
    • 1 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • 1 tablespoon ground espresso

    Instructions

    Place 1/4 cup of the salt, oregano, black pepper, and cayenne pepper in a spice grinder or food processor. Pulse about 5 times until the oregano turns into small pieces. Combine with the remaining salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add in the espresso and stir until the espresso is absorbed. Spread the mixture out in a thin layer on a piece of parchment paper and let dry overnight. Place in a glass container and store in a cool, dry place.

    • RED WINE SALT

    Red wine salt is a beautiful addition to grilled red meat or a chocolate dish to give it an edge that is unprecedented.

    Ingredients

    • 1 bottle of robust red wine, such as Syrah, Red Zinfandel, or Cabernet Sauvignon
    • 1 – 1&1/2 cups of fleur de sel

    Instructions

    In a small saucepan, bring the wine to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, and cook until thick but not syrupy, and about a tablespoon of liquid remains. Allow to cool to room temperature.

    Add 1 cup of salt to the pot, and stir gently to combine. If the salt doesn’t absorb all of the wine reduction, keep adding salt until all of the liquid is absorbed, up to 1 1/2 cups salt.

    Spread the salt on a parchment-covered baking sheet to dry. (This may take a couple days.)

    Store in an airtight jar.