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Aug 9, 2008 09:43 AM

Salt for salt mill

I bought a salt mill a few weeks ago, sort of on impulse. My husband had said he wanted one, and I saw it on sale at Bed, Bath, Beyond, so . . . Well, now the salt is getting low, so I've started looking for something with which to replenish it. I've found all sorts of interesting stuff (pink Himalayan salt, red salt, Pacific salt, Brazilian salt, etc.,etc.) which I'm sure would be lovely, but is there a more pedestrian alternative?? I doubt that the salt mill I bought for under $10 at BBB contained anything so exotic--or expensive! Any suggestions (and where to buy them) appreciated.

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  1. Coarse sea salt. Not the flaky kinds you'd use for sprinkling, but just large crystals of sea salt, which you can buy at lots of supermarkets in canisters for not a lot of money.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

      Thanks, I'll look for that at a "regular" supermarket. I've only looked at Whole Foods so far, and their selection was (predictably) expensive.

      1. re: phoebek

        Even Whole Foods probably carries the Baleine brand or something comparable...look for it lower on the shelves, with the other unfancy sorts.

        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

          I already have a container of coarse Baleine "sel de mer gros," but it's much finer than the crystals in the salt mill. I looked at Baleine's website, and though my French isn't very good, it didn't look as if they have anything coarser.

      2. re: Caitlin McGrath

        Have been using milled sea salt for a while (parents bought me a pre-filled sea salt mill from Costco), and agree w/the rec.

      3. use the 'cleanest' possible Kosher salt . period .

        10 Replies
        1. re: the.crump

          Kosher salt is much too fine to grind in a mill. Plus that takes away a great deal ofthe attraction of a salt mill.

          A salt mill needs to be filled with a very coarse salt. Generally you can only find sea salt that coarse.

          1. re: C. Hamster

            You don't think that coarse kosher salt could be ground in the mill? I only use it for making gravlax and cleaning cast iron, but it seems pretty coarse to me. But maybe not as hard as sea salt?

            1. re: MMRuth

              IMO it would be like putting coarsley ground pepper into a pepper mill instead of peppercorns.

              Unlike a pepper mill which enables you to have freshly ground pepper, a salt mill itself does nothing to improve the quality of the salt.

              So the point of a salt mill is (1) filed with chunky salt, it looks cool; (2) filled with good quality chunky salt, like interesting sea salt, it looks cool and dispenses an interesting and tasty product.

              Filling it with kosher salt -- you get neither 1 nor 2.

              BTW, why don't you use kosher salt for other uses?

              1. re: C. Hamster

                Oh - I do use it for other uses, but use the fine grain kind. Don't even have "regular" salt, though I probably should, since I'm never quite sure about substitutions when baking - I just add a little more kosher salt.

                P.S. I don't have a salt mill, so not contributing to that part of the conversation. All the salt I buy is already quite fine. With Maldon salt, sometimes I'll rub it between my fingers to break it down a bit.

                1. re: MMRuth

                  I can't recall seeing a "fine" grain kosher salt in the supermarket. What brand do you use?

                  If you are using fine grain kosher salt you probably don't have to adjust recipes and use more. The 2:1 or 3:2 ratio of kosher to table salt (depends on brand you use) are based on coarse grain kosher salt. Because it is coarser than fine-grind table salt, you need to use more. If you are already using a fine grind kosher salt, then you probably should stick to 1:1 ratio.

                  I don't have a salt mill either. I use kosher salt in a salt cellar and various sea salts for finishing dispensed in generally random manners.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    This is what I use:


                    I notice it refers to the texture as being coarse, but it seems quite fine to me.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      That's Diamond Crystal, which i use as well. It is considered coarse salt, actually. Coarser even than Morton's kosher salt, thus accounting for the substitution ratio differences.

                      A "fine" grain is more like table salt. You can find sea salt ground fine in supermarkets but not kosher. Kosher salt is coarsely flaked becasue it's original use was in the process of koshering meats.

                      As far as I know, kosher salt comes in basically one grind, so I am curious as to what you are scrubbing your CI with ....

                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        Ha - now I am too - I don't have any of the coarse one now, but next time I have both, I'll post a photo!

                        1. re: MMRuth


                          I would be interested to see how much different they are -- and what brand names!

                2. re: C. Hamster

                  you get neither 1 nor 2.

                  Nice. Concise.

          2. Very general rule-of-thumb: if you are cooking with it, then a good kosher, or sea-salt is where you'll probably want to go. However, if you are adding it to your food, then the various "gourmet salts," come into play. We keep a half-dozen salt-mills, and use them, depending on what we're doing with the salt. I love the various flavored-salts, but only on food, once cooked. It depends on where, in the prep, the salt is applied.


            1. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, they carry a TJ's brand coarse sea salt. It's kind of a greyish color and has large crystals that work great in a grinder.

              5 Replies
              1. re: gmm

                Thanks, gmm. I was planning a trip to TJ's within the next week or so, so I'll look for it.

                1. re: phoebek

                  I caution you against using the TJ brand. I bought it to put in my salt mill, but it was sticky and did not grind well at all. Maybe gmm lucked out. I'm a big fan of Hawaiian Alaea salt, which is not cheap (about $8/8oz here in NYC), but is worth the cost, in my opinion.

                  1. re: small h

                    I never had any problems with the TJ's brand, but my salt grinder has a ceramic grinding mechanism, so maybe that makes a difference.

                    1. re: gmm

                      That could be. My grinder is not the greatest, but it's never given me any trouble grinding salt that wasn't TJ's. It could also be that I got a bum batch of salt.

                2. re: gmm

                  The TJ salts tend to be Sel Gris, or gray salt. They have irregular granular crystals that harbor varying amounts of residual moisture, making them an almost sure-fire bet to gum up the works in your grinder, making it jam within minutes. You need a specialty grey salt grinder such as the Vendome Guerande style mills made by Peugeot for Sel Gris. You need to use a rock salt such as Tidman's, Alaea Volcanic Coarse, Himalayan Salt, Brazilian sal grosso, etc. There is no point in using something cheap--spending an extra couple bucks will give you greater pleasure for months.

                  The Meadow
                  3731 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227

                3. Hi phoebek,

                  I am an avid "collector" of salt, and I literally own like 40, 50 kinds of salts in different textures and from different origins (by country and by region). Logically I also have a lot of salt containers, salt shakers, and salt mills. One thing that I like to use my salt mills for is to maked my own blended salt. Just buy coarse salt and spices that you like (of course the whole version, not ground). My favorites are my anise seeds + salt or my fennel seeds + salt. They are great on pizza, pasta, or butter!

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: kobetobiko

                    I'm green with envy! I thought my collection of about a dozen was impressive!

                    1. re: kobetobiko

                      Kobetobiko, since you are such a salt aficionado, perhaps you can guide me to a source for a large-holed salt shaker, one that I can use for kosher salt. I currently keep the retail container on the counter where I cook but it's not very elegant to bring to the table.

                      1. re: BobB

                        BobB I use Kosher salt at table and stove. I use glass "cheese" sprinklers with large holes and have them in both small and large sizes. Perfect for KS though you need to warn guests it comes out fast.