The different types of salts and their uses

Salt is omnipresent in our daily lives, it is essential to our life. It is in the sea water, in the earth and in our blood. But it is above all essential in the kitchen: without it, everything is bland. Salt is a flavor enhancer in both sweet and savory dishes. It is harvested in several different ways:

  • By natural evaporation of sea water, thanks to the sun and the wind; these are sea salts, present on our plates in the form of coarse salt, fine salt or fleur de sel. (example Guérande salt )
  • By artisanal evaporation of sea water; these are the ignitable salts (meaning “born of fire”). The first methods of brine evaporation in France date from the time of the Gauls, where they used salt furnaces. (example Flower of salt from Kampot )
  • By mining extraction of earth salts, in underground deposits resulting from climatic and geological upheavals, these salts are called rock salt, fossil salt or halite. (example Salt from the Alps )
  • By washing the plant ash from halophyte plants: this is plant salt. This technique, which has almost disappeared, consists of drying and then burning plants called “salt herbs”. We then obtain the famous ashes which are filtered in order to remove the impurities and then mixed with fresh water in gourds. The salt water is then evaporated and then crystallized by a heating process for several days. This makes it possible to obtain pieces of salt in the form of bars, ready to be transported.
  • By natural evaporation of salt deserts, also called salars. These are characteristic of an immaculately white salt, which precipitates due to evaporation. These salt deserts can reach impressive areas, some cover more than 10,000 km 2 of land, one of the oldest in the world is the Kalahari desert in South Africa.
  • By recovery in water from springs crossing the fossil salt deposits, these are resurgence salts. (example the Salt of the Incas )

The use of these natural salts depends on several characteristics of the latter, such as their moisture content or the size and shape of the grains. For example, you will prefer salt flakes to add a salty and crunchy touch to your dishes, especially sweet dishes. You will use fine salts for seasonings and your table salts. The latter are ideal for use in a salt shaker or a salt mill, favoring salts with a low humidity level. Nevertheless, some mills are suitable for wet salts, such as Guérande salt , with a plastic mechanism. You will prefer the fleur de sel at the end of cooking or directly on your plate.

The media are constantly reminding us that salt is bad for your health, but to be more precise, what is bad for your health is excess salt and above all bad salt, "refined" salt. The latter is stripped of its trace elements and nutrients by chemical processes, in order to give it its white color and its very low humidity. If you consume industrial food products you consume salt without knowing it, it is everywhere, even in cakes! To control your salt intake, cook and use natural salts. The amount of salt assimilable by man is more or less 5 grams per day, which corresponds to a heaped teaspoon. Avoid systematically adding salt to your plate, taste and adjust the seasoning. So dispense with these so-called "cooking" salts and favor the quality of natural salts, currently good for health when consumed in moderation.

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