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salt = sodium chloride   Notes:   Most recipes that call for salt are referring to table salt, which has additives like iodine (to prevent a thyroid disease), and an anti-caking agent so the salt won't get lumpy in humid weather.  Salt connoisseurs, though, often prefer to use Kosher salt for cooking, and sea salt for table use.  They claim that both have a softer flavor than table salt.   Exotic salts include the expensive French and Hawaiian sea salts, the smoky, sulfuric Indian black salt, and the intensely salty Korean bamboo salt. Specialized salts include pickling salt, which is free of the additives that turn pickles dark and the pickling liquid cloudy, and rock salt, used primarily to de-ice driveways and make ice cream.    


Substitutes:  citrus zest (for seasoning) OR pepper (for seasoning) OR herbs (for seasoning) OR soy sauce (for seasoning) OR hatcho miso (especially in hearty soups and stews; 1 teaspoon salt = 2 tablespoons hatcho miso) OR salt substitute OR kelp powder OR omit (Reducing salt in a recipe reduces sodium, but doing so may impair flavor and, in the case of baked goods, texture. Since salt enhances flavorings, use more of them if you reduce salt in a recipe.) OR marinades (marinating meats enhances their flavor) 


bamboo salt = parched salt = jukyom = jook yeom   Notes:   This is made by roasting sea salt in bamboo cylinders plugged with yellow mud.  The salt absorbs minerals from the bamboo and mud, which in turn leach the salt of impurities.  Look for plastic bags of it in Korean markets.   Substitutes:  sea salt

bay salt

black salt = kala namak = sanchal   Notes:  Look for this in Indian markets, either ground or in lumps. It's more tan than black, and has a very strong, sulfuric flavor.  Substitutes:  table salt

butter salt  Notes:  This salt has extremely fine grains.  It's used to salt butter.

canning salt

coarse salt = coarsely-ground salt = coarse-grain salt = gros sel    Notes:  Most recipes calling for salt intend for you to use finely ground salt, though coarse salt is better for certain things, like making beds for oysters and salt crusts on meat or fish, or for lining baking dishes or the rims of margarita glasses.  Many professional chefs like to cook with it because they can measure it more easily with their fingers.  Kosher salt and sea salt often come coarsely ground.


fine salt = finely-ground salt = fine-grain salt = fin sel    Notes:   This is salt that's been ground into small grains.  Most recipes calling for salt intend for you to use finely ground salt, though coarse salt is better for certain things, like making beds for oysters and salt crusts on meat or fish, or for lining baking dishes or the rims of margarita glasses.  Table salt usually comes finely ground.    Substitutes:  coarse salt (Grind it using a salt mill, mortar & pestle, or rolling pin.)

cooking salt

curing salt = tinted curing mixture = TCM = Prague Powder #1   Notes:    This is used to cure meats and fish.  It's usually dyed pink so that it won't be mistaken for ordinary salt.  It consists of 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrate.  

French sea salt = sel marin  

This expensive French salt comes from sea water that's pooled into basins and then evaporated.  Unlike most American sea salts, it's unrefined, so it retains more of the minerals that naturally occur in seawater.  There are several varieties.  Gray salt = grey salt = sel gris gets its color from the clay lining the basins.  La fleur de sel (the flower of the salt) is whiter, but has a similar flavor.

That trendy gourmets are willing to shell out $5 for a small packet of French sea salt drives chemists crazy, since almost all of it is just plain salt, sodium chloride, NaCl.   Salt aficionados counter that French sea salt has a much softer and fresher flavor than ordinary table salt, and that the difference is worth it.

These salts comes either coarsely or finely ground.  Since salt is an inorganic mineral, there's no point in grinding large crystals with a salt mill so they'll be "fresh."  Salt, unlike pepper and spices, never goes stale. It's best to use these salts after the food is cooked, or their subtleties will be lost.  

 Substitutes:  sea salt OR kosher salt OR sea vegetables (even richer in minerals)


Hawaiian salt = alaea salt = Hawaiian sea salt = 'alaea sea salt   Notes:   This unrefined sea salt gets its pinkish-brown color from Hawaiian clay, called 'alaea, which is rich in iron oxide.  The clay also imparts a subtle flavor to the salt.  The salt is expensive, and hard to find on the mainland.   Substitutes:   French sea salt OR sea salt OR kosher salt

iodized salt

kala namak

kosher salt   Notes:    This salt was developed for the preparation of kosher meats, but many cooks prefer it over table salt.  It has coarser grains, so it's easier to use if you, like professional chefs, toss salt into pots with your fingers, measuring by touch.  Most kosher salt is also flaked, giving each grain a larger surface area.  This helps the salt adhere better, so it's great for lining margarita glasses, and for making a salt crust on meats or fish. Kosher salt also is preferred over table salt for canning and pickling.  Like pickling salt, kosher salt is free of iodine, which can react adversely with certain foods.  Some brands of kosher salt contain yellow prussiate of soda, an anti-caking agent, but unlike the anti-caking additive in table salt, it doesn't cloud pickling liquids.  The only drawback to using kosher salt for pickling or canning is that the grains are coarser and flakier, and can't be packed as tightly into a measuring cup as pickling salt.  This raises the risk that the salt won't be properly measured. To get around this problem, measure by weight instead of volume.  With its large grains, kosher salt isn't a good choice for baking.  Look for boxes of it in the spice section of your supermarket.    Substitutes:   pickling salt OR Margarita salt OR table salt (smaller grains, use half as much; doesn't cling as well to food; iodized salt can cause pickles to cloud.)

Margarita salt   Notes:   This is used to salt the rims of Margarita glasses.   To apply, fill a saucer with the salt, then moisten the rim of an empty glass with lime juice and dip it into the saucer.  Substitutes:  kosher salt OR sea salt OR table salt OR sugar (This is the preferred rim liner for fruit Margaritas.)

non-iodized salt

pickling salt = canning salt = canning and pickling salt    Notes:   This is similar to table salt, but lacks the iodine and anti-caking additives that turn pickles dark and the pickling liquid cloudy.  Pickles made with table salt would still be good to eat, but they wouldn't look as appetizing.   Pickling salt is available in large bags or boxes in supermarkets, but it's hard to find in cities.  In addition to pickling or canning with it, you can also use pickling salt just as you would ordinary table salt, though without the anti-caking agents it may get lumpy if exposed to moisture.  To prevent lumps, put a few grains of rice in your salt shaker.  To get rid of lumps, spread the salt on a cookie sheet and bake in an oven.  Don't substitute reduced-sodium salt for pickling salt when making pickles.     Substitutes:   kosher salt (Since it's not as dense as pickling salt, you'll need to use more, but how much more varies by brand.  1 cup + 2 tablespoons of Morton Kosher
Salt = 1 cup Morton Canning & Pickling Salt.  For other brands, it's best to measure by weight rather than volume.) OR table salt (The iodine in table salt may turn your pickles dark, and the anti-caking agents may turn the pickling liquid cloudy.)

popcorn salt   Notes:   This table salt has very fine grains, which adhere better to popcorn, potato chips, and French fries.   Substitutes:  table salt

pretzel salt  Notes:  These opaque salt crystals are used to coat pretzels.  Substitutes:  kosher salt OR sesame seeds

rock salt = ice cream salt = halite = sidewalk salt = land salt   Notes:   This is the cheap, non-food grade salt that we throw onto icy walkways and use to make ice cream.  It doesn't actually go into the ice cream, as some have learned the hard way, but rather into the wooden ice-filled tub that surrounds the bucket of ice cream.  The salt lowers the freezing point of the ice, which causes it to melt.  As it melts, it absorbs heat from the ice cream, helping it to freeze more quickly.  Use a ratio of one part rock salt for every five parts of ice.  If you're out of rock salt, other kinds of salt will also work, though you should use less since finer grains of salt can can be packed more densely into a cup than large chunks of rock salt.  The biggest danger is that you'll use too much salt, which will make your ice cream freeze too fast and become crusty.  When using salt other than rock salt, start with a modest amount and check the ice cream after you've churned it for ten minutes.  If the ice cream is just beginning to firm up, you have the right amount of salt.  If it's not yet firming up, you need to add more salt.   If it's crusty along the sides of the bucket, then you've added too much salt.    Substitutes:  kosher salt (more expensive) OR table salt (more expensive)

salt substitute   Notes:    Some salt substitutes are herbal blends, which enhance the flavor of food without salt.  You can buy these in the spice section of your supermarket or make your own--the Internet abounds with recipes for homemade salt substitutes.  Other commercial salt substitutes, like No Salt®, Salt Substitute®, Cardia®, and Lite Salt®, replace some or all of the sodium chloride (ordinary salt) with potassium chloride, which has a slightly bitter taste.  These substitutes are sometimes recommended for people on sodium-restricted diets.  It's recommended that you consult a physician before using these products, especially if you have diabetes or kidney disease, or if you're taking diuretics or potassium supplements, or if you're on a potassium restricted diet.  Look for them in the spice section of your supermarket, or in pharmacies.

sea salt = bay salt   

This salt comes from evaporated sea water, and contains minute amounts of magnesium, calcium, and other minerals.  Since the government requires that salt sold for table use in the United States contain at least 97.5% pure salt, these minerals don't amount to much, though some pricey French sea salts have higher concentrations.

While tossing a teaspoon of sea salt into a half gallon of marinara sauce isn't going to have an appreciable effect on its nutritional value, some gourmets say that they can taste the difference and that sea salt has a cleaner, saltier flavor compared to table salt.   Don't use sea salt for canning or pickling--the trace minerals may discolor the food.  It's also not the best choice for baking--the grains are too large.   

Substitutes:    kosher salt (cheaper) OR table salt (cheaper) 

table salt = cooking salt = granular salt    Notes:  Varieties include iodized salt, which contains the flavorless additive potassium iodide to prevent goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland), and non-iodized salt.  Some recipes call for non-iodized salt, since iodine can impart a bitter taste and adversely react with certain foods.  For example, iodine darkens pickles and inhibits the bacterial fermentation  needed to make sauerkraut.   Table salt also contains small amounts of calcium silicate, an anti-caking agent, and dextrose, a stabilizer.  The anti-caking agent in both iodized and non-iodized salt doesn't dissolve in water, so if you pickle or can with it, it will turn the liquid cloudy or else settle on the bottom of the jar.  The preserved food will taste the same, mind you, but it won't look as appealing.  This is more of a problem for pickles, which are immersed in lots of liquid, than for other canned goods. To prevent the cloudiness, use pickling salt, which contains no additives.   Substitutes:  Kosher salt (This is more flavorful, and great for cooking. Since it's less dense, grind it first or use up to twice as much.) OR sea salt (more expensive) 


Copyright © 1996-2005  Lori Alden