Do You Use Specialty Salts in the Kitchen?

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Are you a fan of pink, grey or brown salt? What about red sea salt or smoked salts? When do you use specialty salts, and why? Got any recipes to share? Here are some of my favorite salts:

sea salts

Grey Sea Salt is unrefined, still a bit moist, usually hand-harvested, and contains trace minerals from the sea because it hasn't been processed. And you can really taste the minerals. It's a bit like drinking mineral water, and you'll love it! I always use far less grey sea salt than I would any other kind of salt, because its flavor is pretty potent. One of the best things I ever tasted was half of a baked Kobucha squash, dotted with grey sea salt and cultured butter, and eaten with a spoon! (A brand I really like is Celtic Sea Salt.)

* Gomasio is a mixture of sesame seeds and sea salt, and is a staple in Japanese kitchens. Frequently, I use black sesame seeds and also mix in dried garlic. You can buy gomasio ready-made, or mix your own to save a little money. This is my all-purpose seasoning blend; I use it in just about everything.

* Lemon Zest Salt is a blend I make myself with coarse sea salt and the zest of lemons (or sometimes other citrus fruits, especially grapefruit). The zest perfumes the whole blend, and the flavor is delicate and really just special. My favorite use for lemon salt is over grilled asparagus.

* Herbed Salt is another easy-to-make blend. Finely chop a small amount of herbs, blend with sea salt, and use on anything savory. Fresh rosemary salt is particularly intoxicating.

* Truffle Salt is fine sea salt mixed with ground black (or white) truffles. Even a small quantity of truffles in the blend will perfume the salt heavily. In fact, the aroma just about knocks me over (with ecstasy!) every time I open my jar. I use this precious salt blend over items that are otherwise largely unseasoned. Try it with roasted celery root, mashed potatoes, baked macaroni and cheese, or over a simple green salad. Again, you can mix your own or buy a ready-made product. Beware the cost of truffles, and remember it doesn't take much!

* Smoked Salt is usually pretty powerful stuff. It may be smoked with different kinds of wood or flavorings. The best one I've come across is Maine Sea Salt Company's Apple-Smoked Salt. It makes roasted new potatoes sing. And if you're lucky enough to live near that company, you could be treated with locally harvested salts with your CSA subscription.

* Cheese Salt is for making cheese. It melts easily and contains no iodine, which could kill the bacteria that you are trying to support in your cheeses. I use it in cheesemaking. It doesn't cost much more than table salt, so it lasts a long time. I get mine from New England Cheesemaking Supply.

* Rock Salt is used for making homemade ice cream (yea!). The briny solution surrounding your ice buckets draws heat away from the ice cream mixture, allowing it to freeze as you churn.

OK, now it's your turn! Please tell us about your favorite salts and how you use them in the comments section below.


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