The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Sea salt, can you taste a difference?

SDbaker's picture

Sea salt, can you taste a difference?

Hello everyone, I was wondering if anyone has made test batches comparing various salts?  It would make sense sea salt would have a more earthy, less chemical taste than iodized or kosher salt.  Are there any objective/blind taste tests out there in the community? 

Also, if you use sea salt, do you crush it first, or use the large crystals?



(SD=San Diego not Sourdough, although that isn't a bad idea) 

SDbaker's picture

Thanks.  Do you crush the large crystals first? Do they disolve in the dough easily if not?


sphealey's picture

In french-type breads (flour, water, yeast, and salt) I can detect a bit of bitterness with iodized salt, so I use sea salt for these. For soft breads with fat, and more flavourful breads such as caraway rye, I can't detect any real difference so I use the iodized salt there.


caryn's picture

For what it is worth, I don't think you can validly decide what is better unless you test blind.  That is the scientist bent in me coming out!!  It is really impossible to keep your prejudices out, if you do not.  Of course, what matters is your personal taste, not that of others, but if you really want to find out what you like, or if you can even detect any difference, then you need to test blind!!!  I find that my breads come out very well with plain table salt, so I have not tested myself.  I think if bread baker's want to know, they need to bake multiple breads of the same kind with different types of salt, measuring the salt by weight, of course (since the density of salt varies greatly from one type to another.).  Then you need to get someone to give you several tastes of each bread whithout your knowing which type you are eating!!  I guess it could be a fun experiment, since you get to eat a lot of good bread!!!!

chiaoapple's picture

He's the famed food writer, who wrote The Man Who Ate Everything and It Must Have Been Something I Ate.

In the second book, he enlisted some scientists, and they conducted blind taste testings of different salts (from Morton's to the most expensive and obscure sea salts). The chapter is called "Salt Chic".

The results did not clearly favor the "better" salts. The mineral content of different salts may affect the end food product (ex: in tuna tartare and salt cod). I don't know if this will translate to bread baking, but it seems that the high value placed on certain salts is based on myth.

But I personally don't ever use Morton's for my bread, I use sea salt (but not an expensive brand).

subfuscpersona's picture

Iodized salt in the US usually also has other additives to prevent it from caking. I don't like the taste this gives the salt, so I don't use it in cooking.

Kosher salt is just salt - sodium chloride. Nothing else. I don't think it tastes bitter.  Its the standard, all-purpose salt in my kitchen. When I use it in bread dough, I increase the amount the recipe calls for slightly, since the crystals are bigger.

 I like sea salt too, but in my experience there's more variation in the perceived "saltiness" of the salt. I bought a salt in a natural foods store that was labeled as "mineral salt" (eg - it was supposed to have a higher % of other trace minerals besides sodium chloride) and, while the grind was similar to supermarket-variety iodized salt, it actually tasted saltier. I had to slightly *reduce* the amount called for in a bread recipe or the bread would taste too salty



maggie664's picture

Hi sphealey et al,
Iodine is a trace mineral required in tiny amounts in human nutrition. It is converted to iodide in the intestine. it is requred by the thyroid hormone which regulates body temperature, metabolic rate, reproduction, growth, the making of blood cells, nerve and muscle function. This hormone enters every cell of the body to control the rate at which the cells use oxygen. In New Zealand, soils are very low in iodine (and selenium) so years ago iodised salt was mandatory to use to avoid outcomes of deficiencies such as goitre (enlarged thyroid gland) and at worse, cretinism as such conditions here were not rare. Since those days iodine has been more readily availalble from others sources such as from milk from cows exposed to iodide-containing medications and disinfectants, kelp powder, food from plants from other countries, and an increased use of sea food. Even though lower salt in food is recommended, apparently the incidence of simple goitre in NZ is now very rare and cretinism is non-existent. I do agree that iodised salt is not as palatable as sea salt, so I use the latter in everything except vegetable cooking and baking,as, being a New Zealander who, as a child, had a goitre (lump in the neck front due to the enlarged thymus gland) use some iodised salt because of my apparent predisposition to iodine deficiency.