"I'm not a chef; I just cook." - Rachael Ray

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Salt 101

Salt, a quintessential ingredient.  It can help bring a dish together or completely overwhelm every other flavor. Salt can be a tricky ingredient requiring constant tasting, adjustment, and re-tasting to get it just right.  There are three basic types of salt: Table, Kosher, and Sea salt.  Each have their own texture, potency, and uses.


The fist type is common table salt.  It is very fine, the smallest of the three types.  Table salt is also the most potent: a small amount will go a long way.  If a dish is bland, this salt will bring life to it.  I would not recommend cooking or seasoning with table salt as it is too strong and could potently ruin a dish.  However, it is very useful for salting certain bland foods that really absorb salt, like potatoes and other root vegetables.

Kosher Salt is by far my go-to salt.  The salt crystals are much larger than table salt and are not uniform in shape.  It is also the least potent of the three salts.  When seasoning meats before cooking, you can be very generous.  If you are grilling or searing meats, keep in mind about half of the seasoning will fall off as you move and turn the food.  Salting meats with kosher salt is also a good way to remove water / moisture, allowing you to better sear in the flavors and juices.  You cannot sear something wet. Olive oil, which isn't H20, will sear.
Because of the large salt particles and the milder flavor, this is the salt I prefer to cook and season with.


Without a doubt this is sea salt.  Comparatively, sea salt crystals are much larger than table or kosher salt.  It is also a very strong type salt.  Sea salt is the "fancy" or "gourmet" salt, with some brands costing 10 times more than kosher salt. This salt is derived from evaporated sea water and most every place with salty water will sell their own brand of salt.  You can cook with sea salt, though it is better used as a garnish or topping. Its large size makes it noticeable and appealing.  Since sea salt is expensive, I prefer not to cook with it.  I mostly use it for puff pastries and garnish; for everything else, kosher salt works fine for me.


  1. Thank you for a very interesting comparison of salt. I never knew Kosher salt was less potent (less sodium?) and now that I do I'll use it more liberally.

  2. Hi there! I hope you know by now that I am a fan ... I've told your mother that for some time.

    I have a feeling we are all going to learn lots from you & be entertained as well.

    Bravo, Bandwidth, Bravo.

  3. Useful 411! I love a smoked sea salt that I have in a grinder. It has the most delightful flavor!!

  4. Really interesting Tyler, we use kosher but try to do without if we can. I must have salt on my eggs though and tomatoes. but try to use other herbs and spices. I sometimes find restaurant food to salty and had to giggle at the video clip where Thomas Keller said he carried a pot of salt in his pocket. Kathy.

    I heard about Chuchee, your mum said she had blue, blue eyes.

  5. VERY good topic. Tyler, I teach cooking classes and am also a trainer/nutritionist and a discussion of salt and seasonings is always one of the first things on my agenda, whether I'm talking diet with a client or speaking to a class. Interesting how different salts can tast. By the way, I told your mom I also have a chemist son :) Bravo!!

  6. Very interesting! I must admit that I've never used Kosher salt and I'm going to have to try it!

  7. I so wish my mom could see this. I keep trying to tell her to use Kosher instead of table salt for cooking, but she refuses and keeps saying her "lite salt" is healthier than the Kosher. Whenever she cooks something when she's visiting us, she always uses table salt, and a couple of times the food was practically inedible, it had so much salt in it (shhh, don't tell her I said that!).

  8. Good morning from Canada..I think you will have great success! Truly~

  9. Very excited to find out you started your own blog and so far, I love what I see.

    Cornbread and milk? My favorite midnight snack. That or brownies to be truthful.

    Love pan-seared fish, but have never topped it with pecans. As a Southerner I will definitely try this — with cornbread on the side naturally.

    And you had me at kosher salt, love the stuff.

  10. I made the Spinach Salad for dinner, which we enjoyed very much. I have to admit, I could have used more spinach, but it was still very enjoyable.

    Thanks for helping to make our 'at home' anniversary dinner special.


    P.S. I burnt the first batch of Pecans,:( when I took the dog out. Thank God we always have a large bag on hand.

  11. First time here and I loved your salt comparisons!!!
    I just purchased some mediterranean Sea Salt yesterday. Enjoy experimenting with the different textures and strengths...
    Great blog...keep up the good work, xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

  12. Welcome -- love the salt post!

  13. I was just about to ask my son about salt types. This was extremely informative. Thanks, Tyler!

  14. I loved the salt lesson! It was really great! I learned so much! Thank You!

  15. Thanks, I found this post very interesting and informative. I've always wondered about kosher salt, now I know. I cook with sea salt but a box of Maldon lasts me a very long time. I guess I just don't use that much salt! I'm going to try kosher salt now, thanks!