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Oct 10, 2008 09:31 AM

Everyday Sea Salt

I use La Baleine (fine) sea salt in my salt shaker for everyday use, but it's getting more difficult to find. I'll use the Maldon's, but certainly not everyday considering the price.

Can you recommend a great, affordable everyday sea salt? Thank you!

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  1. I really like the sea salt from Trader Joe's as an every day salt. I have the crystals in the disposable grinder; I would assume you could buy refills for it.

    1. l would avoid Baleine, from the French camargue estuary, thus drains off the Mediterranean. Lots of boats in Med, lots of muck. Maldon great flaked product, but as you say expensive.
      Would get salt from Atlantic ocean, leading one is sel gris de Guerande, here in France about $6 per 5 kilos, When l sold in NY cost about $8 per kilo; Get this for cooking and small container of fleur de sel for finishing. The fleur is the same salt but with no clay, thus white not grey, and has great texture. Not of the french salts can be used in grinder as 'wet' salt and corrodes everything thus the french use a 'saltbox' for theirs. Many similar products from Spain and Portugal, but more ' refined ' and played with, so l use the french. Under no circumstances get any iodized product. If you eat shrimp 3-4 times a year, you have enough iodine in your system

      10 Replies
      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

        There are special salt grinders made for moist sea salt. I don't have one, but they are available. For the only "moderately discriminating," Spice Islands offers a disposable grinder filled with not-too-moist sea salt crystals that is adjustable to whatever fineness you prefer. For cooking, if I add salt at all, it's kosher salt, with Malden's and the Spice Island grinder available for finishing.

        1. re: Caroline1

          There are indeed salt grinders for 'wet' salt, but do not grind as well as normals. Been using a salt box forever and works just fine. Have two perfex salt grinders for other salts, as Hawaiian and Korean baked, and they work just great for those. Kosher salt, Alton Brown notwithstanding is manufactured salt. Straight sodium chloride, sea salt with all the zillions of minerals, feels better, tastes less salty, and is better for you as has less sodium. Regardless of how expensive it is, an item that lasts forever and adds so much to your cooking, on this one get the good one

          1. re: Delucacheesemonger

            I have no idea what you mean by, "kosher salt is manufactured salt." Makes no sense. As someone who grew up a couple of miles from huge sea salt "manufacturing," where ocean water was let into salt beds, evaporated, then the salt was gathererd, cleaned, packaged and sold, are you saying that sea salt is NOT manufactured? Ridiculous.

            If you do a taste test with kosher salt against "table salt" that comes in those round boxes, you will likely find the same result as my taste buds do. Kosher salt is much gentler and softer in flavor. And Alton Brown not withstanding, kosher salt has been used by chefs in America for longer than he has been salting his porridge.

            Nothing wrong with sea salt. Nothing wrong with kosher salt. Nothing wrong with those abominable round boxes of table salt, if that's what kick starts your taste buds. To each his own. I would not presume to sit in judgment of others for their taste choices. But I do have fun when a new housekeeper enters my life and asks why I have so many different kinds of salt. The amazement in their eyes when I take their taste buds on a salt tour is sheer fun! Do they change the kind of salt they use at home? I don't ask.

            EDIT As an afterthought, you recommend avoiding sea salt from Beleine, because of pollution. Well, fact is there are NO oceans left on the planet that are pollution free. Some may be less polluted than others, but none are pristine. However, mined salt IS pristine. It is untouched by our modern polluted atmosphere until it is mined. There ARE mined salts that have ancient sea mineral content as good or better than any sea salts of today without the pollution risk. Am I recommending rock salts over sea salts. Not at all. But I do prefer a reality check every once in a while. '-)

            1. re: Caroline1

              A fantastic comment - one of the best in recent years!

            2. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Actually, 'straight' sodium chloride is by definition free of other minerals.

              The fact is that all edible salt is sodium chloride (except for salt substitutes like potassium chloride), whether it comes in a box or a pretty pouch or whatever. And it all comes from the sea, originally.

              The shape of the crystals makes a difference. If you take a teaspoon of Kosher salt and a teaspoon of Diamond Crystal salt, you will find that the latter tastes a lot more salty. That's because there is more salt in the spoon. If you weighed them, you'd see. And that's because the Diamond Crystal crystals pack together more densely (because of their shape) than the flakes of Kosher salt. Otherwise, they're chemically exactly the same.

              Because there's less actual salt in a teaspoon of Kosher than in a teaspoon of DC salt, it would, in fact, be "better" for you--if you have some sort of health issue with salt. But if you used equal weights of the two salts, they'd contain the same amount of sodium. Actually, sodium chloride. Salt.

              Some fancy salts have other ingredients, like traces of clays and algae in them, thus they have different colors and bits that you can see. These have no nutritional value whatsoever and if you combine them with food, or heaven forbid cook with them, you may not even be able to taste the difference. But the FDA requires food-grade salt to be 97.5 percent pure sodium chloride. Even ocean water evaporated by the sun will leave behind 99 percent pure sodium chloride. The zillions of minerals get left behind, and any resulting trace elements are nutritionally insignificant.

            3. re: Caroline1

              Why do people grind salt? I was under the impression that salt has no oils or aromatic compounds that would be liberated by grinding and I was always told that grinding salt is an affectation because it's friend, pepper, is ground.

              1. re: filth

                That may (or may not) be part of it, but the thing I like about my salt mill is that it gives me control of how fine or course I want the salt. And it's easy to readjust for different purposes. A super fine dusting on some veggies is excellent. A fairly course grain on avocados draws out their flavor. It this is "affectation," so be it. Or maybe I'm just a control freak. '-)

                1. re: filth

                  Grinding Morton's is an affectation. But some other salts are sold in crystals that are too large for sprinkling on food, so a grinder is necessary if you want to use them at the table. I like red Hawai'ian alaea salt for its earthy flavor (the color comes from red clay), but the crystals in the bag I have are pretty huge. Thus the grinder.

                  Of course, you could certainly do the grinding ahead of time; doing it at the table certainly doesn't add any flavor. It does have one practical advantage, though - the salt doesn't have a chance to sit around and form clumps between grinding and consumption.

              2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                Thanks for the tips all!

                I'm going w/the Guerande. Though it's a bit more than I wanted to spend (I was thinking < $5/pound), $20 (w/shipping) for 16 oz is doable:

              3. Here are several dozen salts, some of which might make a good everyday choice:


                2 Replies
                1. re: fullbelly

                  Most, if not all of these, are super product. Himalayan is now used for lamps, candles, and God knows what else, but really is a pretty good salt

                  1. re: fullbelly

                    thanks for the link fullbelly, interesting source.

                    1. I buy a fine sea salt from my organic co-op that is $1.50 a lb. It doesn't contain anti-caking agents iodine, but I prefer it over kosher for baking and table use.