Demystifying Salt: 3 Essential Types

I volunteered to help in a layer cake baking class this past week, and the issue of salt came up. There seems to be some confusion and disagreement about when to use certain types of salt in the kitchen. It's time to change that. Kosher or regular? Can you bake with sea salt? Maldon salt? In April's issue of Everyday Food, Martha Stewart discusses different kinds of salt you need in your pantry and I agreed with each of her choices. When it comes down to it, you really need three types of salt to get you through any baking or cooking project. Sure, you can spring for fancier salts like truffle salt or lavender salt, and we certainly have a few of those splurges in our pantry. But when it comes right down to it, a fine table salt, a coarse kosher salt and a finishing salt like Maldon sea salt will set you straight for pretty much any recipe that comes your way.

1) Table Salt: I like using table salt when I'm baking as it really integrates into recipes the easiest due to the fine crystals (for this reason you really never want to bake with Maldon sea salt). It's inexpensive and what most folks fill their salt shakers with.

2) Coarse Sea Salt: Sea salt is wonderful for most savory cooking. I love using it when roasting vegetables or preparing chicken or fish because the larger grains often hold their shape and you get a slight crust on the outside.

3) Large-Flake Finishing Salt: We use Maldon sea salt at home to sprinkle on top of dishes like eggs or baked potatoes, and I love using it in salad dressings. Whenever you see salted caramels in the stores now, they're using a thicker-flake salt so you really notice the flavor right away.

What's your go-to salt in the kitchen?

Related: All About Salt: How to Choose, Cook With, and Store It

(Image: Emma Christensen)

16 Comments