Once upon a time, salt was just salt. But these days, when you walk down the seasonings aisle in the supermarket, you’re likely to be confronted with loads of different types to choose between. But what’s the difference, really? We break it down so you’ll never be confused again.
This is the most common type of salt. It’s typically mined from salt deposits, and is usually highly refined and finely ground, with most of the impurities and trace minerals removed so that it’s almost pure sodium chloride. It contains anti-caking agents to prevent clumping, and is also often fortified with iodine as a public health measure to prevent iodine deficiency. This salt is generally used for your everyday cooking and baking needs.
An increasingly popular choice, sea salt is harvested from evaporated sea water. It is often unrefined, and has coarser grains than table salt. Unrefined sea salt contains minerals from where it was harvested, such as zinc, potassium and iron, which can give it a more complex flavour profile. This bigger burst of flavour makes sea salt perfect for seasoning your food at the dinner table. Just be wary when making your purchase, as many sea salts also contain microplastics.
Himalayan pink salt
Often seen at trendy cafes, Himalayan salt mostly comes from the Khewra Salt Mine in Pakistan. It is most noted for its unique pink colour, which is caused by trace amounts of iron oxide. Himalayan salt also contains other minerals (such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium), which give it a bolder flavour. Some claim that Himalayan salt is healthier than other varieties, but this is yet to be proven. However, its colour does make it a visually appealing option to finish dishes or rim margarita glasses.
If you’ve ever tried to follow a recipe from an American chef, chances are you’ve run across kosher salt in the ingredients list. Designed for use in the koshering process (and not necessarily kosher itself), this salt has larger, flakier crystals than regular table salt. This is why chefs love to use it as an all-purpose cooking salt, as the large particles are easy to pick up and give greater control when seasoning. However, it can be hard to find outside the US – so if you need an alternative, you can use sea salt flakes.