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Salt Brand -- How Important is the Brand?

It will be very difficult to debate against the importance of salt in any culinary cooking. It is very basic, but very essential. Maybe because it is so basic (just NaCl) that it does not really matter the source is.

So in your experience and your opinion, do you prefer a particular salt brand? Do you think it matters who or where you buy your salt from? If so, what is your favor brand of salt? Or do you just buy the cheapest ones on the shelves?

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  1. In my experience the only difference between generic & branded (Morton's) salt is the packaging. Sometimes the metal spout on the cheapo brand will collapse into the cardboard top when you push it closed. I buy the cheapo product unless the branded is on sale for the same or lower price.

    (I'm just talking about differences between branded & generic,basic table salt, not how that compares to Kosher salt, or other variant types of salt).

    5 Replies
    1. re: masha

      <the only difference between generic & branded (Morton's) salt is the packaging>

      I am also thinking about the anti-caking agent. You know. The stuffs to keep the salt grain separated. I wonder if the more expensive brand does a better job about it. In all honesty, I have not noticed this, but I am not very sensitive to these things.

      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

        In AZ, we do not have that issue, as we normally have about 7% Relative Humidity.

        Back in NOLA, we would add Long Grain White Rice to our salt shakers, to absorb moisture. In AZ, well not so much.

        Hunt

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          When growing up and into my 20s, we used to put uncooked rice into the salt shaker to prevent crusting. Wow, nice memory of the "olden days."

          Living in Las Vegas now, it's not an issue, but I wonder if others in more humid climates do this?

          1. re: blaireso

            Still happening at the finer greasy spoons here in central Florida.

            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

              And at all the seaside joints on Long Island.

      2. There's a big difference between Diamond Crystal and Morton's for kosher salt. Morton's crystals are smaller meaning that if you measure volumetric-ally, instead of with a scale, your recipe could end up being too salty if the recipe was written using Diamond crystal and vice versa.

        For that reason I generally use Diamond crystal which was used in all the kitchens I cooked in (most likely because it's cheaper).

        1 Reply
        1. In cooking I only use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt. I also have smoked salt I made myself from the Diamond Crystal that I use for cooking. I don't usually have a salt shaker on the table. On the rare occasions I do, during holidays, I have a spice grinder with Hawaiian red salt. I used to have several types of colored and sea salt, but can't be bothered anymore. I don't use iodized table salt at all. I think it tastes metallic. Cheap and more expensive brands alike.

          12 Replies
          1. re: JMF

            In all of these replies, no one has mentioned the method I use. I buy plain old five of ten pound bags of 'ice cream maker' salt and put it into a pepper grinder for the table. I bought two sets of crystal salt shaker and pepper grinder. Usualy, I jut put the shakers away in the cupboard and use only the two grinders on the table. Because they are crystal, they can't be mixed up. The salt that comes out of the grinder has all of the advantages that are claimed for flakes, powder, larger, irregular crystals and so on. The colours in the mined salt are the various minerals that were in that original ocean or sea. Most of the mined salt in the US is from the mid-continental sea that roughly corresponds to the Mississippi and Ohio River systems (under Lake Erie near Cleveland and the salt domes in Louisiana, Utah, and the Dakotas. It is naturally iodized and has a 'brighter' flavor than plain old generic table salt, to my tastes. The comment about being adulterated or 'polluted by rust, volcanic ash, silt, or will not fit through the average salt shaker.' is the whole point of using sea salt. So why not just use mined ice cream maker salt to start with?

            1. re: DeeDee_AZ

              I did not realize that was "food grade"! Makes me wonder about the stuff they use to melt snow.

              1. re: Shrinkrap

                Same stuff the highway department keeps in big sheds to put on roads. Why would you make a distinction about 'food grade'? Do you believe that herbs, spices and other vegetable flavorings are sterilized or otherwise made 'food grade;? How would you make a nutmeg 'food grade' without ruining the essential oils in it?

                1. re: DeeDee_AZ

                  I wasn't thinking "sterilized", but in the example you use, herbs you eat are treated differently than those meant as ornamental. For one thing, they aren't sprayed, or treated with certain fertilizers. After I read about "food grade plastic" I figured that I shouldn't store food in any old plastic, so now I check that it's "food grade". When I was a kid, I seem to remember the salt we put in the ice cream makers didn't look "clean". By that I mean, it looked like it might have dirt in it. That's what made me think of the de-icing salt. That stuff looks "dirty" to me too.

                  Since I read your post, I looked it up, and learned that "ice cream maker salt" is actually "rock salt", which was a little easier to find out more about.

                  Here is an old thread;
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/283372

                  Apparently there are different....wait for it....grades!

                  http://homecooking.about.com/od/spice...

                  "Rock salt: Less refined and grayish in color, this is the chunky crystal salt used in ice cream machines. This type is generally not used as an edible flavoring mixed into foods, but in cooking methods such as to bake potatoes or to encrust or embed meat, seafood or poultry for baking. Rock salt makes an impressive bed for oysters on the half shell. When using rock salt for cooking, be sure it is food-grade. Some rock salt sold for ice cream machines is not suitable for cooking. "

                  I live and learn!

              2. re: DeeDee_AZ

                I think salt grinders are pretty useless, and your story sort if confirms that . Sorry.

                And what in the heck is ice cream maker salt ? Certainly a low grade product

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  If you don't kinow what I'm talking about, I'd guess that your comment about salt grinders being pretty useless is sort of an indication that you don't know what you're talking about, or as my daddy used to say, 'you don't know your @$$ from your elbows on this subject. Of course your mileage may vary.

                  Oh, by the way, the salt used in ice cream makers is just plain old mined salt that hasn't been washed or refined.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I use a salt grinder for sea salt, I like it because I can adjust the grind from coarse to fine for different applications. Ice cream maker salt is kind of like pickling salt, it's the size of the particles more than anything else. Ice cream salt is quite large, and it works well in salt grinders as do many others.

                    1. re: blaireso

                      Exactly. Thank you for verifying that I'm not off my ancient rocker!

                      B- )

                    2. re: C. Hamster

                      There isn't a "low grade" when it comes to salt. Salt is salt is salt. The only distinction is when stuff is added to salt.

                      1. re: ferret

                        Salt will contain impurities until processed to remove them. "Food grade" generally means (for anything) that impurities are analyzed and reduced to safe levels for consumption.

                        1. re: ferret

                          Guess you have never bought rock salt at the hardware store - in 50 lb bags.

                          1. re: paulj

                            Holy cow! I could boil pasta and potatoes AND fill up my grinder practically forever! And I thought a ten pound bag lasted almost forever! No snow to speak of in Arizona, and I only make kimchee a couple times a year. Just don't have a lot of other uses for rock salt.

                  2. CK, I am basing my response on the supposition that you are talking about North American table salt. As opposed to the sodium chloride that has been polluted by rust, volcanic ash, silt, or will not fit through the average salt shaker.

                    I can usually taste the difference between iodized and pure in my recipes. Be warned that I use more then is currently considered healthy as I like the way it impacts other flavors.
                    I have not noticed the presence of anti-clumping agents. I have also used chemically pure salt from labs and could not tell any difference. (Used during lunch.)

                    The pound I bought at Aldi's last month set me back 35 cents.

                    1. I too use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt in the kitchen. The exceptions are for pasta or boiled potatoes, for those I use iodized salt. On the table we have a small ramiken of half salt.