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How do you present sea salt/kosher salt at the table?

I have started using random small dishes I own (I have a set of very old vintage cordial glasses from my grandmother that are all uniquely-shaped) as salt cellars. but I'm wondering...do they still make salt cellars? I know I can hit an antique shop but most of the ones that aren't chipped are kind of expensive, in my experience.

Thoughts? And I don't want a salt grinder.

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  1. I have found very small mortar and pestle sets that work well and look nice on the table...

    a bit more contemporary could be to use shot glasses...with a small spoon..

    1 Reply
    1. re: jbyoga

      Yes, maybe I can look for creative shot glasses.

      I dont' want to bring out my grandma's glasses for EVERY occasion. I am too afraid that they will be broken and I love them.

    2. just curious though - why no salt grinder?

      2 Replies
      1. re: jbyoga

        The only thing you can reasonably put in a salt grinder is larger grained rock salt. Smaller grained, what I would consider more gourmet-ish salt (Murray River, Fleur de Sel, Maldon) would most certainly not do well in a grinder or a shaker and even if you put it in there you'd ruin the crystals. Maldon fans would be particularly disappointed to see their large beautiful crystals/flakes crushed into powder.

        1. re: HaagenDazs

          EXACTLY! Also, it doesn't serve a true purpose--doesn't release oils from salt as it does with pepper, you know? Seems superfluous and affected, I guess. And I love Halen Mon sea salt--the gorgeous flakes add as much as the flavor IMO.

      2. I think your use of your Grandmother's cordial glasses is charming and is probably making MS green with envy for not doing it first!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Quine

          :) Thank you. I was scrambling before Christmas dinner for the in-laws and that was a stroke of inspiration I was happy with. BUT, like I said above, I don't want to use them for every entertaining occasion because I am too afraid that they'll get broken. They are adorable, though!

        2. My wife found these little cut glass bowls maybe the size of a walnut cut in half. And get this....they come with tiny little "punch ladle" spoons. She says they are called "salt cellars". Find them in specialty stores or more likely antique shops.

          Usually i just put out the same bowl i use for cooking. and people use their fingers or a spoon.

          5 Replies
          1. re: chrisinroch

            I have individual salt cellars and salt spoons to set at each place. If you go looking for salt spoons be sure that the bowl of the spoon is gilded. Salt is very corrosive on silver and can pit it badly. There should be some big antique shows coming up at the fair grounds before too long. It could be nice to pick up old salt cellars and spoons individually for a unique look.

            1. re: Candy

              awesome! I'm fairly new to indy (despite my handle) and so I didn't know about hte antique shows. Where can I look to find out when they are coming?

              Thanks also for the advice on the spoons. I probably wouldn't have thought of that.

              1. re: IndyGirl

                I think Feb. or March they get pretty heavily advertised in the paper and on TV. There is a silver dealer in Broadripple who usually shows up and she has all sorts of old silver. They often advertise the shows in the Bloomington paper too.

                Photo of salt spoon and salt cellar, sorry for the glare.

                1. re: Candy

                  THAT is adorable!! I love it! And thanks for the help :)

                  1. re: Candy

                    Thanks,I have 8 of each. The cellars are antiques, i just got lucky and found them at a decent price for them. The spoons are Towle's Grand Colonial and though the pattern has been around for a long time, I bought them new. Or my DH did for my birthday.

            2. Salt cellar wins over small bowl or ramekin because the lid keeps dog hair and parsley out. Bowl/ramekin wins over salt cellar because guests can dip in freely with their fingers, single-handed, and season food according to touch. I suppose it is up to Williams-Sonoma to offer an infra-red salt cellar that opens up when it senses a set of fingertips looming near ($58).

              1 Reply
              1. In a "pot du sel" - a little bowl with a little spoon:-) The whole finger thing grosses me out completely (unless everyone had a separate bowl and the salt is discarded after dinner - seems like the perfect way to spread Norwalk virus) so the little spoon allows people to take a pinch without pinching!!

                1 Reply
                1. re: jcanncuk

                  That's exactly it. I didn't have a bunch of little spoons so that's why everyone got their own tiny litlte misshapen cordial glass.

                2. I throw a little over my shoulder and then plunk down the various salts in assorted containers and let the guests choose.
                  Keep it simple and enjoy the food don't place too much emphasis on the container.
                  I also give them a few pepper mills to choose from it's fun.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Magnapro

                    Oh, but for fancier dinners there's no way I'm putting boxes of salt on the table! I get your point but I like to make it feel like an event.

                  2. Thanks - never thought of that!

                    1. It may not look elegant, but I keep my kosher salt in a glass shaker like you find at Italian restaurants (for pepper flakes and parm). They are small, have a little design to them, and keep fingers and contaminants out.

                      1. I do find in one certain instance the use for a salt grinder. I love very coarse, minerally grey French sea salt. Often it comes in very large crystals that need to be broken down for table use, and even a lot of cooking uses. Peugot makes a specific salt grinder for moist, grey salts that has an all plastic mechanism to prevent corrosion.

                        I've found this to be a very useful tool.

                        Kosher salt, I just take my red Emile Henry salt pig to the table. Overkill? perhaps, but it still makes a great presentation.

                        1. The food we serve is so perfectly season that there is no need for salt at our table. =)

                          However, for everyday use I use a tiny vintage salt shaker served with granulated sea salt.

                          I haven't found a salt cellar that I really like but I prefer one with a spoon. I don't want a bunch of grimy fingers digging around in the bowl.

                          1. Nigella Lawson sells tiny table-sized salt piglets in various colors.

                            They don't seem to come with spoons ... I'm in the no-fingers-in-the-salt camp ... but I suppose you could pick up a set of demitasse spoons to use. A tiny spoon would seem to rest nicely on that tray.

                            Actually if you had tiny enough demitasse cups and spoons you could use those for a different presentation.

                            Also ... egg cups, nut cups, votive candle holders (those are cheap at the local market and some are pretty). If there are any Chinese cookeware/markets in your area, there are all sorts of pretty, clever little dishes and spoons that could be used to hold salt. Actually the little tiny tea cups would work.

                            Less formal, but you might check out local party supply stores which have all sorts of nut cups and candy favor containers as well as those little ice cream sample spoons. Some of the wedding stuff is gold or silver foil and might look nice on a table. Lots of theme stuff too so on Christmas, Thanksgiving you could add an inexpensive holiday touch to the table.

                            1. I use a little dark green "hen on nest" when it's just the two of us ....


                              3 Replies
                                1. re: Candy

                                  I have a friend who has quite a big one, and uses it in her kitchen to hold salt.

                                2. re: MMRuth

                                  I love that! It gives me fond memories of my OTHER grandma (not the vintage cordial glass one). She had quite a few of this cool vintage hen on nest things. Wish I'd inherited one of hers--they probably got thrown out.

                                3. Well, my idea is nowhere as cute as everyone else's "salt cellars", but I bought some condiment bowls (I forget what Ikea officially calls them) from Ikea and they work pretty well for small amount of salt (like for 1 person). They're made of glass and are about 2" in diameter at the top.

                                  But if you were looking for something simple and cheap, that's the way to go. They're pretty durable, so you definitely wouldn't have to worry about them breaking.

                                  1. I often use small horn bowls and matching spoons. The bowls are wide enough for people to scoop out the amount they want without worrying about sending salt all over the table, and since they're horn I don't worry about things tarnishing.

                                    1. I keep a little olivewood bowl of fleur de sel on the table. There's a spoon, but we simply pinch when it's just family. Salt is actually a very inhospitable medium for bacteria, so I don't really worry about it. (Although I was a bit grossed out a number of years ago when I caught the cat lapping it up.)

                                      1. hello all--just to update, I got some individual little bowls from Crate and Barrel. They were fairly cheap and I bought enough for each potential guest to have one (as long as there are no more than 8 of us, and at that point I'd find a less fussy way of presenting the stuff!).

                                        1. Little sake cups would work well, also. They are dainty, come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and styles to accommodate any table.