Buying salt at the grocery store is a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Being the kitchen commodity that it is, you would think that you’d go to the store and there would be one shelf devoted to one type of salt made by one brand and you could use this salt for everything: baking, making spice rub for grilled steaks and ribs and adding flavor to your favorite soups, sauces and salad dressings.
Unfortunately, such is not the case.
There are a lot of different salts out there ranging from plain table salt to high end sea salts – one of the most noteworthy being fleur de sel, an artisinal, hand-harvested salt hand-collected by workers in specifc regions of France. I learned about fleur de sel when I made Dorie Greenspan’s famous world peace cookies and bought it to use as a once-in-awhile-treat, because it is pricey.
After acquiring my first jar of fleur de sel, I thought I had reached the peak of sea salt ownership, until Rachel bought me a set of sea salts and whole peppercorns for my last birthday.
While fleur de sel truly is special-occasion salt (nerd alert!), every cook should invest in a high-quality sea salt. The brand that I have and adore is Maldon Sea Salt, one of the only four salt manufacturers in England. It’s a family-run business known for its quality, harvested in a very traditional manner.
Most salts have a bitter taste that almost make your mouth pucker when you come in direct contact with the crystals – like if you over-salt your food or if you can’t remember which canister has salt and which has sugar so you dip your finger in, ever so gently, to taste-test.
Maldon salt is unmistakable with soft crystals that look like snowflakes, so large you’ll need to crush them between your thumb and forefinger before you use them. It has a very distinctive, salty flavor without being bitter or acrid. Because it’s less processed, it’s said to be healthier for you than other types of salt.
Maldon is more expensive than traditional table salt but you’ll get a lot more mileage out of it and it really makes a difference in the quality of your food. I’ve seen it sold between $10-12 for a 125g box (I don’t know how many ounces that is. Don’t make me do math). While I haven’t quite figured out how to replace sea salt for table salt in most baked goods, I do use it for a number of other worthwhile tasks:
Uses for Maldon (or other large-crystal) Sea Salt:
Sprinkle on top of chocolate chip cookie dough just before you slide the tray of cookies into the oven to be baked. The salt will draw forth the bittersweet flavors in the chocolate chips. Delicious!
Top freshly steamed edamame with sea salt for a healthy snack. Shell any leftover edamame for avocado, corn and edamame salad
Toss a large pinch (or a heaping teaspoon if you like to measure) into your boiling water for pasta.
Dress your next simple green salad with high-quality olive oil, your favorite vinegar (such as balsamic or red wine) and a pinch of sea salt.
How do you use sea salt in your own kitchen?