Stay Salty: A Brief History and 5 Kinds to Know

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If you're a home cook, there's no doubt you've paid attention to salt—but usually it's about how much is the right amount.

We've all certainly oversalted a pot of something and scrambled to save it, or perhaps given up and thrown it out. But you'll find that understanding salt isn't just about how much–there are a wide variety of salts available for home cooks to use, some culinary and some not. 

A Brief History of Salt

The use of salt dates at least back to 2,000 BCE, when harvesting salt was discovered and humans developed a taste for it. It's hard to imagine cooking without salt, no? 

It's theorized that even before the Agricultural Revolution, humans noticed their herd animals' tendencies to lick salt-containing rocks, a behavior which is well-documented across many species and remains observable today. 

According to this reasoning, humans also investigated these naturally-occurring salts, found them to taste delicious, and integrated the mineral into their diets. 

While humans today have more concern about an excess of sodium, ancient humans had very few sources for salt. Imagine living a salt-free life, then suddenly tasting it in a rock: they'd likely find it just as magical & tasty as their herd animals did!

Fortunately, we don't need to find salt by hunting down the right boulder. We can just purchase it at any grocery store. But with so many kinds available, it's essential to understand the differences between the most commonly-available salts.

5 Kinds of Salt To Know

  1. Kosher Salt has a coarse texture and no additives. Its name comes from 'koshering' meat, the process of using a coarse salt to draw out any blood from a piece of meat, as blood cannot be consumed under kosher law.
    Kosher salt is a highly versatile cooking salt that can be used to season any dish, preferred by many home cooks and chefs alike. From brines to sauces to cures to a finishing sprinkle, its versatility is hard to beat. And unlike fine-grained table salt, its larger crystals make it easy to pinch, providing better control over the amount used.

  2. Himalayan Pink Salt is mined from ancient sea beds in the Himalayas, this salt is renowned for its pink hue and rich mineral content. Himalayan salt can be used for cooking, grilling, and even as a stunning presentation element. It can also be ground for everyday seasoning. You've also likely seen it as a decorative element, as it makes a cute lamp. 🤓
  3. Rock Salt,known as halite, rock salt is typically mined from underground deposits. It is commonly used for preserving food, making ice cream, and creating ice baths for chilling beverages and desserts. Its large crystals dissolve slowly, making it perfect for non-culinary applications, usually involved in keeping things cool. (Important note: We do not recommend eating rock salt!)
  4. Flaky salt is a delicious salt to eat, but not for an all-purpose seasoning as you cook. It's referred to as a finishing salt, enjoyed for its texture, usually at the end of plating a dish. You may prefer to use this to finish something which is highly fatty, such as a steak, dishes containing avocado, or wherever you're craving a delicate salty crunch. Flaky salts can also be smoked!
  5. Smoked Salt  is an optional infusion for any shape or variety of salt, but is most common among flaky salts. Infused with real smoke, this salt adds a subtle touch of smoke where char or liquid smoke would be too heavy-handed. Smoked salts are created by cold or hot smoking methods using different wood varieties. It's fabulous on everything, but we think it makes an excellent dry rub or as a topping for sweets, especially caramels!

Exploring the vast array of salt varieties opens up a world of culinary possibilities. Each type brings its own unique qualities, textures, and flavors to enhance your dishes. 

Experimenting with different salts can elevate your culinary creations, adding complexity and depth. So, embrace the diversity of salts and let your taste buds embark on a truly flavorful journey in the kitchen. We hope you stay salty—but in the good way! :-)