It doesn't get much attention, but salt is one of the most important ingredients in everyday cooking and baking. It primes our palates to identify and enjoy flavors and textures, and it works to amplify and balance what we taste. Different types of salts have varying textures and levels of salinity. Some may be used in a recipe, while others may be called for as a finishing ingredient, like sprinkled on the top of biscuits.
Many recipes, ours included, call for coarsely-ground kosher salt, like Diamond Crystal. If following a recipe, remember that different sizes and shapes of salt crystal will measure differently by volume, so try and follow the recipes suggestions as best you can. When it doubt, kosher salt is a safe bet.
This list is by no means comprehensive but highlights the most commonly found salt varieties.
This salt may contain iodine. Its small, dense grains adhere poorly to food and do not dissolve easily. We do not recommend using this salt in cooking or baking.
Kosher salt is a coarse salt that weighs less by volume than table salt. It dissolves easier and is free of any additives, giving it a cleaner taste.
Sea salt is collected through the evaporation of seawater. It is available in varying levels of coarseness. Fine sea salt is often used in bread baking. The coarser grains are more often used as finishing salts. While this salt is derived from seawater, it is processed in an industrial plant, which means it can still contain bleaching agents and chemicals like iodine.
CELTIC GRAY SALT
This is a true sea salt from Brittany, in northern France. It is raked from mineral‐rich basins, harvested by hand, and left completely unrefined. Its gray color comes from its high mineral content. These minerals boost the flavor and also allow the human body to absorb the salt more easily than refined salts.
FLEUR DE SEL
This is the finest of the sea salts harvested where the Celtic gray salt is found. That is, the first salt skimmed from the water’s surface is sold as fleur de sel. Its color is whiter because it has had less contact with the minerals in the floor of the basin. Its texture is also coarser and flakier. Fleur de sel is typically reserved as a finishing salt, to top salads, tartines, soups, or virtually any plated dish.
HAWAIIAN PINK SALT
A coarse salt harvested off the coasts of Hawaii. The basins where it is harvested are rich with a clay that is high in iron oxide, which gives the salt its signature pink or dusty red color.
BLACK LAVA SALT
Also originating in Hawaii, black lava salt is harvested from ocean waters and treated with coconut-shell charcoal to augment its black color and intense flavor.
SEL DE GUÉRANDE
Harvested in northwestern France, sel de Guérande is a coarse natural sea salt harvested in the salt marshes of the Guérande Peninsula. Water is naturally evaporated to produce this flaky sea salt.
This is a medium‐grain to coarse salt that is smoked over alderwood or oak from French wine barrels. The finished salt is strongly flavored and has a light brown or gray tint. It is reserved for finishing, where it lends a slightly smoked flavor. We like it sprinkled on still-warm peanut brittle.