I couldn’t tell you when or how it started, but I have a bit of a love for novelty and gourmet salts, which I’ve been collecting for years. Usually I’m fairly particular about which salts are eligible to be in my collection. My general criteria is this: It has to be a salt that I couldn’t easily make myself. For example, ginger or garlic salt would be pretty doable, as would salt with truffle or rosemary. I want salts flavored with smoke, or mushrooms, or bourbon, which I couldn’t quite DIY.  I also love unique and rare finds, like my Lime Fresco salt. Not long ago I saw a blue cheese salt while I was out shopping, but talked myself out of buying it. It was too late when I came to my senses and realized that was a mistake! I went back to find it weeks later but it was no longer available. Fortunately, I have since been able to remedy my lapse in judgment and order some from Amazon, and it’s on its way! Here is my list of salts collected, to date:

Smoked Flake

Chardonnay Oak-smoked

Alderwood Smoked

Hickory smoked

Applewood smoked

Cherrywood smoked

Bourbon smoked

Sriracha sea salt

Whiskey smoked Irish salt

Lime & coconut smoked

Cyprus black lava flake

Cyprus white flake

Haleakala sea salt, red

Haleakala sea salt, black

Portuguese coarse, grey

Peruvian Pink

Australian pink small flake

Himalayan pink crystals

Utah ancient mineral

Fluer de Sel

Hawaiian bamboo

Vintage Merlot

Lime Fresco

Wild porcini

Espresso Brava

Vanilla bean

Malt Vinegar

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My favorites are the smoked salts; I still hope to collect a pecan-smoked and a better quality coconut-lime-smoked.
I think most people aren’t aware of the endless varieties of salts, but now you know there are dozens, if not hundreds! Some of these salts I have just for the sake of collecting them; others I use regularly. I would say I use the Williams-Sonoma Wild Porcini salt most frequently. As a vegetarian, it’s a great way to incorporate in some meaty flavor into my cooking.
Whether you’re a fellow salt enthusiast or not, what’s important for you to know is the difference between the two most frequently utilized salts: table salt, and kosher salt.

As you can see for yourself, there is a difference in texture and consistency. Table salt is made up of teeny little cubes that are uniformly sized. Kosher salt, on the other hand, is composed of coarser, flatter flakes that vary in size. Kosher salt is said to taste saltier because the greater surface area of the flakes dissolve quickly on the tongue. Kosher salt is a bit more of a pure product, as opposed to table salt, which is more refined and has additives like iodine and anti-caking agents. It has also been stripped of its mineral nutritional properties.

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While kosher salt is more ideal for most applications, most people say table salt works a bit better in baking, because it has such a small grain that is easily and quickly broken down. On the contrary, always use kosher salt on meat, such as steak, before cooking. The flat, long grains of the salt work more quickly and evenly to draw out excess exterior moisture from the meat and stabilize the proteins to better retain interior moisture.

Otherwise, as far as I’m concerned, the two are generally interchangeable. Some say kosher salt used in baking is a no-no, but I use it each and every time and have yet to experience a problem. I don’t even keep table salt around. When following a recipe that calls for table salt, simply use twice the amount of Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If you’re using Morton brand kosher salt, use only 1 ½ times the amount, since Morton brand is a bit more fine.

Ultimately, it’s not rocket science. Trust your best judgement and taste as you go to to determine how much salt needs to be used– and maybe even look into collecting some gourmet seasonings of your own. It’s kind of fun! You know that I’m passionate about cooking ’cause I find salt entertaining.

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