Why does salt taste so good and why do we crave it so?
Our sense of taste is hard-wired to detect and savor the salty flavors of the minerals and elemental compounds that our bodies need to maintain themselves. This compels us to seek out sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc, to name a few, in our diets. But the mineral-rich marine and mined salts that our early ancestors sought are very different than the industrially refined table salt we are all familiar with today.
Table salt contains only one mineral: sodium chloride. It is mined from underground deposits by digging wells and dissolving the salt crystals with pumped-in water. The resulting brine is pumped back up to the surface where it's fed into machines that evaporate most of the water, then spin and heat the remaining slurry until the salt is dry. This method removes trace minerals in the salt and is more energy-intensive than most methods of sea salt collection, which is evaporated from large, shallow ponds of seawater.
Why it's time to get adventurous with salt
Chefs, savvy cooks, food lovers and dietary specialists recognize that there is a better way to use salts and minerals in our food. The specialty gourmet salts that are now trending in the culinary world provide more complex flavors and mineral profiles than table salt. For example, wood smoked salts (such as Alder Smoked Salt and Yakima™ Applewood Smoked Salt) and salts dusted with coconut shell charcoal (try Hawaiian Black Sea Salt) enhance grilled and barbequed food, while the saline bouquet of Fleur de Sel salt adds oceanic minerals to everything from seafood to salad dressings.
Since it's given little or no further processing after evaporation, sea salt retains trace minerals and other natural components after the evaporation. The dietary advantages to these gourmet salts is not only their enhanced mineral profiles, but that their flavors and colors can be so much more complex, interesting and intense than table salt. This encourages us to use them more judiciously on our food, as we would cayenne pepper, than that old salt shaker of refined sodium chloride. Sea salt crystals also are larger than table salt crystals, and sea salt's crunchy texture makes it a great finishing touch.
Learn more about Frontier Co-op's nine Gourmet Salts
What's special about kosher salt
While Frontier's Kosher Flake Sea Salt is Kosher certified by KSA, the word "kosher" actually describes the flake style of the salt. Kosher flakes are thin and flat, with more surface area than regular table salt. Since the structure of kosher salt is bigger than table salt, one teaspoon of table salt will taste saltier than one teaspoon of kosher salt. For this reason, always follow your recipe's recommendation for kosher versus regular salt, just as you would for fine grind versus coarse grind.
Many chefs prefer to use kosher salt because it's easier to control while cooking — it's flaky structure makes it easy to pinch until you get the desired amount, this way you don't over-salt your product. Additionally, kosher salt delivers a more rounded, less harshly alkaline flavor that ordinary table salt. While many brands of kosher salt are mined salt, Frontier's Kosher Flake Sea Salt is made from actual seawater.
Learn ways to use Frontier Co-op Kosher Flake Sea Salt.
When to stick with the basics
While Frontier Co-op Gourmet Salts enhance a wide range of foods, simple sea salt remains a must-have for everyday seasoning. Also, fine grind sea salt and table salt are often better suited for precise measuring, especially for baking, canning, brining and pickling, unless otherwise specified in the recipe.
Try Frontier Co-op Sea Salts.