SALT [Sel, Sal, Salz, Zout, So'l, αλάτι]

Assorted Sea Salts
photo by Susan Tormollen

   However you say it, in any language, Salt in some quantity is needed by all known living creatures. Salt is one of the oldest, most ubiquitous food seasonings and salting is an important method of food preservation. The taste of salt (saltiness) is one of the basic human tastes.  Salt for human consumption is produced in different forms: unrefined salt (such as sea salt), refined salt (table salt), and iodized salt. It is a crystalline solid, white, pale pink or light gray in color, normally obtained from sea water or rock deposits. Edible rock salts may be slightly grayish in color because of mineral content. 

     Salt is involved in regulating the water content of the body. The sodium ion itself is used for electrical signaling in the nervous system.  Because of its importance to survival, salt has often been considered a valuable commodity during human history. However, as salt consumption has increased during modern times, scientists have become aware of the health risks associated with high salt intake, such as high blood pressure.  So, the U.S. Dep't of Health recommends the consumption of no more than 1500–2300 mg of sodium (3750–5750 mg of salt) per day depending on age.

     For our purposes, Salt brings to food far more than one of the five basic taste sensations (sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami); it enhances other tastes. Sweets taste sweeter. Salt masks bitter tastes, making naturally bitter foods like chocolate and broccoli become delicious.  Before recorded history, men learned salt’s key role in food safety and preservation by retarding the growth of spoilage microorganisms. Today, food technologists rely on salt to satisfy consumer preferences in color, texture, appearance and aroma. And, all evidence suggests that consumers do have preferences, and they prefer the attributes that only salt can deliver.

    OTHER USES OF SALT: No other seasoning has yet been found that can satisfactorily take the place of salt. But there are other uses around the home, too. Salt is an excellent cleaning agent, by itself or in combination with other  substances. A solution of salt and turpentine restores the whiteness to yellowed enameled bathtubs and lavatories. A paste of salt and vinegar cleans tarnished brass or copper. Pour a strong brine poured down the kitchen sink to prevent grease from collecting and eliminate odors. Salt helps destroy moths and drives away ants. A dash of salt in laundry starch keeps the iron from sticking and gives linen and fine cottons a glossy, like-new finish. A thin paste of salt and salad oil removes white marks caused by hot dishes or water from wooden tables.  A box of salt is an important item in many bathrooms. In mild solutions, it makes an excellent mouthwash, throat gargle or eye-wash; it is an effective dentifrice; it is an effective antiseptic; and it can be extremely helpful as a massage element to improve complexion.  We offer these other tips for the kitchen, in cleaning, in health & beauty and other “miracle” uses of salt at home.  (Thanks to Wikipedia and The Salt Institute for the above information).

     Now, sit back and enjoy a summary of much of the salt there is to taste, any of which can be purchased on line from www.saltworks.com.:

  • COURSE SALT Other Names: Gos Sel, Sale Grosso

    Coarse salt is made up of large-grained salt crystals,like the Himalayan Pink pictured above. Most coarse salts are best used in a grinder, providing an easy way of serving up freshly ground sea salt with all of your meals. Coarse salt tends to be less moisture sensitive than its finer-grained counterparts, so it resists caking and is easily stored. Use coarse salt to grind over any dish, create a salt crust on meat or fish, and to flavor soups, stews and pasta.

  • FINISHING SALT

    Finishing salts are considered the premier varieties in the world of specialty salts. They are harvested—generally by hand—in special areas around the world and are known for their unique textures. The various finishing salt textures—usually either moist crystals or delicate flakes—provide a strong crunch and dissolve quickly, giving you a burst of clean, mild salty flavor with each bite. These salts bring out the depth of natural flavors of any dish, and also add to a beautiful tableside presentation. The various colors and flakes of finishing salts make gorgeous garnishes for every meal.

  • Flake Salt Other Names: Flaky Salt

    Flake sea salt is a light crystal reminiscent of snowflakes. Seawaters are evaporated using the natural processes of sun and wind, producing salt brine that is fed into an open evaporating pan. The brine is then slowly heated to the point where delicate pyramid-shaped crystals of salt appear. The finished product is light, flaky sea salt. Flake salts can come in many different flake sizes, from the large pyramid-shaped flakes to the paper-thin, delicate flakes.

  • Fleur de Sel Other Names: Flower of Salt, Flor de Sal (Portuguese), Flower of the Ocean®

    The premier finishing salt, Fleur de Sel literally translated means “Flower of Salt.” It is harvested from the very top of the salt ponds in the traditional Celtic methods. This artisan sea salt is comprised of "young" crystals that form naturally on the surface of salt evaporation ponds in the Guérande region of France. Paludiers (the salt harvesters of the Guérande region) carefully rake the salt crystals using only wooden tools. Just as the cream rises to the top, so does the best Fleur de Sel. The weather conditions must be just right to produce a good Fleur de Sel harvest, and the process can only be completed once a year, in the summer. Called the “caviar of salts” by chefs worldwide, true Fleur de Sel comes from the Guérande region of France, just like champagne, which must come from the Champagne region of France to be truly authentic. Also, similar to fine wine regions, different areas within Guérande produce salts with their own unique flavors and aroma profiles. Fleur de Sel is ideal for salads, cooked fresh vegetables and grilled meats.

  • French Sea Salt

    French sea salts are hand-harvested from pristine Atlantic seawater. These delicious sea salts are unrefined so they retain more of the trace minerals that naturally occur in seawater. These minerals include natural iodine. French grey sea salt, or Sel Gris, is harvested using the traditional Celtic methods. This prized process is done entirely by hand, using only wooden tools. This preserves the pure taste of the French salt, and produces a very special moist crystalline texture. Sel Gris by Le Tresor is also lower in sodium chloride content than average sea salts, generally containing anywhere from 83–87% sodium chloride. French sea salts are ideal for use on salads, cooked fresh vegetables and grilled meat. They are available in coarse grains – ideal for pinching or salt cellars, stone ground fine – an ideal replacement for processed table salts, and extra fine grain – the perfect popcorn salt (or other salty snacks).

  • Grey Salt / Celtic Sea Salt® Other Names: Sel Gris

    Grey salt is a “moist” unrefined sea salt, usually found in the Brittany region of France’s Atlantic coast. Its natural light grey color comes from the minerals absorbed from the clay lining the salt ponds. The salt is collected by hand using traditional Celtic methods and wooden tools. Grey salt has gained great fame in the mainstream culinary world in the last few years, and is considered by many to be the best quality salt available. It is available in coarse grain – which is the perfect finishing or pinching size, stone ground fine – ideally used at the table instead of processed salts, and extra fine (Velvet) grain – perfect for sprinkling over nuts or popcorn. Celtic Sea Salt Brand is a registered trademark of Selina Naturally®.

  • Grinder Salt

    Grinder salts are typically large, dry crystals suitable for a salt mill or grinder. The large salt crystals are easy to grind in the mills, and the lower moisture content allows the salt to flow through with little hassle. Used for flavoring foods at the table when the host determines that a finer, higher grade finishing salt is not required. Also appropriate for use during cooking for freshly ground salt flavor. Note: Always use a salt mill with a ceramic or plastic grinding mechanism. Metal, including stainless steel, such as is found in pepper mills, will corrode and/or rust after prolonged contact with salt.

  • Hawaiian Sea Salt Other Names: Alaea, Alae, Hawaiian Red Salt, Hiwa Kai, Black Hawaiian Salt

    Alaea Salt is traditional Hawaiian table salt used to season and preserve. A natural mineral called "Alae" (volcanic baked red clay) is added to enrich the salt with iron oxide. This natural additive is what gives the salt its distinctive red color. The clay imparts a subtle flavor that is said to be mellower and more earthy than regular sea salt. As the traditional and authentic seasoning for native dishes such as Kalua pig, poke and jerky. It is also delicious on prime rib and pork loin. Aavailable in fine and coarse grain.
    Black Hawaiian sea salt, or Hiwa Kai, has a stunning black color. Activated charcoal is added to the salt for its stunning presentation, and flavor enhancing properties. The activated charcoal in Hiwa Kai Black Hawaiian Sea Salt adds a pop of color and tasty flavor to your dishes. As a coarse grain, it's great for tableside presentation and grinders.

  • Italian Sea Salt Other Names: Sicilian Sea Salt, Sale Marino

    Italian sea salt is produced from the low waters of the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Sicily. It is a natural salt rich in minerals, such as iodine, fluorine, magnesium and potassium, with a slightly lower percentage of sodium chloride than regular table salt. The salt pans are filled with the seawater in the spring and left to evaporate, relying on the heat of the Sicilian sun and strong African winds. Harvesting takes place once the water has evaporated and the salt is crushed and ground without any further refining. These salts have a delicate taste and plenty of flavor, without being too strong or salty. Italian sea salts are wonderful on salads or used to finish roasts and sauces. Great as a garnish on bruschetta. Available in coarse and fine grain.

  • Kala Namak Other Names: Black Salt, Sanchal

    Kala Namak, or Indian black salt, is an unrefined mineral salt. It is actually a pearly, pinkish-gray color rather than black, and has a strong, sulfuric flavor and aroma. Vegan chefs have made this salt popular for adding in egg-y flavor to dishes like tofu scrambles. Kala Namak is used in authentic Indian cooking, and popular in mango smoothies. Available in very fine or coarse grain.

  • Kosher Salt

    Kosher salt can refer to two types of salt—one is a specific shaped flake salt; so named for its use in the preparation of meat according to the requirements of Jewish dietary guidelines. It contains fewer additives, a cleaner and more even taste than ordinary table salt. The flakes dissolve easily, and have a less pungent flavor than processed table salt. Due to the shape of the granules, there is less salt in a pinch of kosher salt than in a pinch of table salt. This is the kind of salt most often used on top of pretzels and on the rims of margarita glasses. Not all Kosher salt is necessarily sea salt.
    The second type of Kosher salt is one that's been certified Kosher by an organization or certifying body such as the Orthodox Union. This salt has met the guidelines of Kosher outlined by Jewish law, and upheld by kosher certification agencies and members of the Jewish Faith, so that the product is suitable for those following a kosher diet.

  • Organic Salt

    As of yet, in the United States, the USDA does not recognize salt as an item that can be certified as organic as it contains no carbon compounds. Although salt is not certified organic in the U.S. by the same standards as botanicals, agriculture or livestock, there are at least three organizations that have set up rigorous guidelines for the production of salt in their respective countries. These standards include ensuring the purity of the water, cleanliness of the salt beds and strict procedures on how the salt is harvested and packaged. These certifications that place their stamp of approval on organic salts consist of:: Nature & Progres (France), Bio-Gro (New Zealand) & Soil Association Certified (Wales).

  • Sea Salt Other Names: Sal Del Mar, Sel De Mer, Sale Marino

    Sea salt is a broad term that generally refers to unrefined salt derived directly from a living ocean or sea. It is harvested through channeling ocean water into large clay trays and allowing the sun and wind to evaporate it naturally. Manufacturers of sea salt typically do not refine sea salt as much as other kinds of processed salt, so it still contains natural traces of other minerals, including iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iodine. Proponents of sea salt rave about its bright, pure, clean flavor, and about the subtleties lent to it by these other trace minerals. Some of the most common sources for sea salt include the Mediterranean Sea, the North Sea, and the Atlantic Ocean (particularly in France, on the coast of Brittany). Sea salt is thought to be healthier and more flavorful than traditional table salt. Available in coarse, fine & extra fine grain size, and many sizes in between!

  • Smoked Sea Salt

    Smoked sea salts are a relatively new and exciting gourmet salt in the U.S.! When you are considering a smoked sea salt, make sure that it is a naturally smoked salt, and hasn’t just had liquid smoke flavoring added—this can create a bitter taste. The salts that are smoked naturally in cold smokers are slow-smoked over real wood fires to infuse the salt crystals with 100% natural smoke flavor. Smoked sea salts add a unique flavor to a wide range of dishes including roasts, chicken, salads and sandwiches. Unlike artificially infused smoke flavored salts, all of SaltWorks’ smoked sea salts are created using natural smoking methods. These salts are delicious to use when grilling or oven roasting, and are a must when cooking salmon. Also adds an authentic smokehouse flavor to soups, salads, pasta and sandwiches. Available in fine, coarse and flake grain sizes.

  • Table Salt.

    Table salt is the most common kind of salt found in the average kitchen. It usually comes from salt mines and, once mined, it is refined and most minerals are removed until it is pure sodium chloride. Many feel that this process has the unintended side-effect of adding a more bland and bitter flavor to the salt than its unprocessed counterparts. Most table salt is also available in either plain or iodized forms, where the salt is artificially spray coated with iodine. American salt manufacturers began iodizing salt in the 1920's during The Great Depression, in cooperation with the government, after people in some parts of the country were found to be suffering from goiter, an enlargement of the thyroid gland caused by an easily-preventable iodine deficiency. Today we know that most people require less than 225 micrograms of iodine daily. Seafood and many dark greens, as well as sea salt, contain iodine naturally, and the supplement is unnecessary if there are sufficient quantities of either in one's diet. Natural sea salt is a healthy replacement for ordinary table salt.

PEPPER [Poivre, Pepe, Pimienta, Pfeffer, コショウ, Pimenta]

Pepper Plant

     Known as the “King of Spices”, Pepper is the most important spice traded internationally, accounting for some one-third of the total volume and value of all trades.  Pepper was one the earliest commodities traded between the Orient and Europe.  Before the nineteenth century, pepper was regarded as a luxury for the upper classes. Often scarce, it was as valuable as money. In medieval times, peppercorns were legal tender.  In medieval times, pepper frequently changed hands as rent, dowry and tax. “Peppercorn rent” may today mean something trivial or next-to-nothing but in the middle Ages, pepper was the preferred currency, prized by the wealthy. The history of medieval Europe throws up further evidence of the influence pepper had in the trading community. Pepper traders even had their own vernacular names: ‘Pepperer’ in England, “Pfeffersacke” in Germany and “Poivrier” in France.  See, www.ipcnet.org for a full history on pepper from medieval times to the present.
     Today, peppercorns are widely available and affordable. Nearly every culture uses both black and white pepper in the preparation of savory dishes. Pepper is an excellent seasoning for virtually every food.
     Peppercorns are the fruit of Piper Nigrum, an evergreen climbing vine native to the jungles of India's Malabar Coast. As demand for pepper grew, cultivation spread. India continues to be a major producer but the Indonesian Islands and Malaysia also make great contributions to world trade.
     Black, white and green peppercorns are all products of the same plant but each is harvested and handled differently. The berries grow in clusters on vines that reach 30 feet or more. The vines are cultivated on small plots that must be tended to carefully. The vine is trained to grow onto support posts, regular weeding and fertilizers are mandatory and shade from the sun is sometimes necessary. A vine will not yield a crop until after the third year and does not go into full production until around the seventh year. The clustered spikes of perhaps 50 berries are hand-picked at just the right time for the desired black, white or green peppercorns. The pink peppercorn is not actually a member of the pepper family although it is often marketed as such. This faintly sweet spice from Reunion Island does a great job of enhancing the flavor of you favorite meal.
Although pepper is most often used as a food condiment, it has also been used as a Preservative: The value of pepper as a natural preservative for meat and other perishable foods has been known for centuries. Studies have shown that this is due to the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties present in pepper and for Medicinal Uses: Pepper is an important ingredient in Ayurvedic, Chinese and Unami and other traditional medicines. The three main therapeutic uses of pepper are as a stomachic, digestive and tonic.
  **You can buy any of the following peppercorns at www.bulkpeppercorns.com     
 Lets Explore the Pepper Family::
  • Black Pepper: Tellicherry & Malbar

    The most common and popular of the family of peppers are black, Tellicherry & Malbar: Black Tellicherry or Tellicherry Garbled Extra Bold peppercorns are larger in size and renowned for their high quality. They are exported from the town of Tellicherry on the Malabar Coast of India. Piperine content of 6.6% and a volatile oil content of 4.7%. Black Malabar peppercorns are grown in the coastal areas on the southwest side of India. The peppercorn farmers in these areas are known for their devotion to producing the highest quality peppercorns. Malabar pepper has a higher Piperine content. They have a certified Piperine content of 7% and a volatile oil content of 4.5%. You can also by Smoked Black Peppercorns.

  • Green Peppercorns

    Whole green pepper from IIndia has a uniform light-green color with the characteristic aroma and pungent flavor of fresh green pepper. Sharp, fresh, and somewhat fruity flavors are reminiscent in this unique pepper. They are
    Dehydrated and are easily substituted for peppercorns in brine by re-hydrating them in warm water for an hour.
    Green peppercorns go especially well with very fresh or fruity tasting foods. Try them ground on salads, steamed vegetables, salsas, and in sauces.
    They have a clean, sharp, but somewhat milder, fruity, or "green" flavor than black pepper. They have a uniform light- green color with the characteristic aroma and pungent flavor of fresh green Pepper.
    Green peppercorns are picked when under ripe, steam cooked, and air-dried to preserve their green color.

  • White Peppercorns

    Bothe Green & White peppercorns actually come from the same plant as black peppercorns, but these peppercorns have been allowed to fully ripen before having their black outer husks removed.

    White Peppercorns


    Ground white peppercorns go especially well in sauces, on light colored meats such as fish, with eggs, and in mashed potatoes.


    White Peppercorns are the preferred pepper in much of the world.

  • Pink Peppercorns

    Pink peppercorns have a sweet, fruity fragrance along with a delicate, sweet, and peppery, but not hot flavor. Their flavor is reminiscent of a mild citrus zest and sweet berry mixture. The flavor of pink peppercorns goes especially nicely in fruit sauces, vinaigrettes, desserts, and combined with other fruit flavors. These peppercorns have a rich rose color that adds an elegant appearance to any cuisine.
    These expensive little "berries" will also add a dash of color to your sauces
    These are not true "peppercorns", but similar tasting berries often called Pink Peppercorns, Peruvian pepper, Baies Rose Plant, or Peppertree (Schinus molle) that is native to South America.
    The Baies Rose plant is a small tree that has numerous compound leaves with slender, symmetrical, leaflets on each side of the leaf.
    The peppercorns form in clusters on the tips of the branches and can be from white, at an immature age, to pink or even a dark red.

  • Grains of Paradise

    Grains of Paradise are a common substitute for black peppercorns because of their hot, peppery flavor with ginger undertones. They are also used as a finishing spice to adjust the seasoning of a dish just before it is served, much like a pinch of a high quality sea salt is used to "finish" a dish. Finely grind it on foods just before presentation or provide it to guests as a table top condiment and an intriguing conversation piece.
    The Grains of Paradise, Aframomum melegueta, are a member of the ginger plant family, Zingiberaceae. The plant is native to the west coast of Africa and much of this exotic spice available to the world market is produced in the country of Ghana.
    The Grains come from a pod similar to green & black cardamom, the seeds themselves range from a maroon or yellow to reddish brown color. They are triangular in shape and, except for the color, they look remarkably similar to cardamom seeds, a close relative.
    Grains of Paradise are also called Melegueta Pepper, Guinea pepper, Alligator pepper, Graines de paradis. They are used to flavor some beers as well as foods.



  • Long Pepper - Pippali

    LONG PEPPER-PIPPALI This intriguing and unique pepper has that classic black pepper flavor and aroma with an additional hot, spice, and slightly earthy flavor that is reminiscent of a combination of black and white peppercorns mixed with ginger.
    Grind long pepper in a pepper mill after breaking it into smaller pieces, or add it whole to stewed items the same way other whole peppercorns would
    Long peppercorns are brownish-blacks spikes made up numerous little seeds produced by the Piper longum plant, a close relative of black pepper. So not surprisingly it is native to the same region as regular peppercorns, Southern India, but is also now cultivated in other tropical regions around the world. Long pepper contains the same main active ingredient, Piperine, as common peppercorns, but in a slightly higher concentration.

Here's a treat, a wonderfully simple PINK PEPPERCORN SAUCE recipe, perfect on beef, pork or chicken:

2 1/2 teaspoons butter,

1 teaspoon crushed pink Peppercorns,

1 teaspoon finely chopped pimentos,

1 teaspoon finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes,

4 ounce heavy cream,

Melt butter in a saucepan (or use it to deglaze a pan after a saute or roast), add peppercorns, pimentos, and sun-dried tomatoes, cook a couple of minutes stirring continuously. Slowly stir in heavy cream and reduce to the desired thickness.