The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

The Salt Thread

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

The Salt Thread

We have threads covering scales and yeast, so, possibly it is time to have one on salt.

RL Beranbaum finds regular salt to be unacceptable and suggests sea salt.  Other writers have different views on the topic.

Given the prices that one pays for a simple container of sea salt, it is possible that one might consider other alternatives.  Will that choice impact taste?

Given the fact also that there is a very considerable number of people here with lots of experience, it is possible they can provide the answer as to the right choice on salt when it comes to taste and cost.

Floydm's picture
Floydm

I disagree with Rose about this. Table salt isn't the tastiest, but it'll work.

A box of coarse Kosher Salt is only an extra buck or two. That is what I usually to bake with and it tastes fine. Perhaps a Supertaster could tell the difference, but I can't.

CountryBoy's picture
CountryBoy

Thanks for the hyperlink on Supertaster .  Very interesting.  I am not a supertaster but my wife comes from a long line of Supertasters..........  Life is not easy.  8-)

handsonleaven's picture
handsonleaven

 

  Table salt will work.

I used it for some years in making and managing natural leaven and its use in bread dough.  The natural leaven of course contained no salt, but when I mix it with my final dough, I add salt. 

  Celtic French Sea Salt that is hand- hand harvested works but not like table salt. I have baked many, many loaves of bread and my experience with using sea salt is a choice because it works in making a difference.  I am not a "Supertaster" but a humble home baker that lives on a dead end road in northern MI and I say, "If you don't want to use Hand Harvested Sea Salt because it is too expensive- and table salt is not---you are okay.  But, I went the extent to buy a 55 # bag of Celtic Hand Harvested Sea Salt for a great price and can have the results of its use in my Natural Leaven Bread.  The result to me is more than the "taste".

 I can't argue a difference, because I don't argue about "bread related stuff" I only know that my use of this kind of sea salt remains my choice for other reasons than just taste-- because I am not a chemist I can't give you the analysis, but it made a  change for the better in my breads. 

-it even produced a remarkable smoking difference in my son's artisan applewood smoked bacon when he decided to glean from the 55# and try it in his recipe---I at the table, as my bread, said, "This is different" It is definately the salt.

Submitted by Hands ON Leaven dcf2005@katlelnet.net

suave's picture
suave

You know,  I have read so many people praising superior qualities of breads made with sea salt that last week I bought a small container.  The salt itself definitely tastes different and better.  Bread - not so much.  In fact, I think I wouldn't be able to tell the difference to save my life.

goetter's picture
goetter

Table salt contains iodide and anti-caking additives.  I can taste those additives, so I don't use it anywhere in my cooking.

Kosher salt doesn't contain iodides.  While the flakes are larger than individual table salt crystals, they are thinner.  Morton and Diamond have different shaped flakes.  Morton (the flatter, flakier salt: think tiny discuses instead of tiny baseballs) dissolves in water more quickly than table salt; I don't know about Diamond (but see here: http://www.mos.org/sln/sem/ksalt.html).  Morton's contains siodium ferrocyanide, an anti-caking agent that appears cloudy when you dissolve it into brine.  Diamond contains neither iodide nor anti-caking agents.

RLB prefers fine (not coarse!) sea salt because it doesn't contain additives that she can taste, and because it is finer and hence dissolves more quickly than kosher salt.  Its fine texture will disperse more evenly through dry ingredients, too.

Cooking in a dry climate, I prefer Diamond.  In a damp climate, I still use Diamond, though I occasionally cuss when it clumps.  If I had fine sea salt at hand I would certainly use it.

In the end, it doesn't matter much.  While I personally can taste the difference between salts in many places, I've never noticed it in baking.  I would use whatever you have at hand and worry no further.

zolablue's picture
zolablue

I highly recommend delicious sea salts for cooking and I found a wonderful company that I love to buy from called Saltworks.  They have a great variety and their customer service is excellent.

 

http://www.saltworks.us/shop/category.asp?idCat=1

  

I usually keep 3 – 4 various sea salts on hand at all times and always use sea salt for cooking with fish and seafood or making any kind of tuna salads to eat alone or in a sandwich.  I love Saltworks Le Tresor salts in both fleur de sel and coarse grey salt.  They might seem expensive but they really do last a very long time as the flavor is so much better and you don’t have to use a lot of it. 

 

They have a fabulous “velvet” very fine grey sea salt I use on popcorn and it is wonderful.

 

http://www.saltworks.us/shop/product.asp?idProduct=134

  

There is another fine grain, not quite so fine as the velvet, that I thought would be fun to try as well here:

 

http://www.saltworks.us/shop/product.asp?idProduct=265

 

I have used this velvet salt in bread many times.  What it does do is melt into the dough very quickly and might be really nice for those who love to knead dough by hand.  Other than that I simple cannot detect any difference in the flavor of my breads no matter what salt I use and I often wonder how anyone else actually can. This goes for pastry baking as well.   I feel I have pretty good taste buds and am very particular about how my food tastes but in bread I just don’t notice the difference.

 

I bake and cook almost exclusively with kosher salt (I always use kosher for meat and poultry), in fact, I did not even purchase table salt for about 3 years until I started baking bread and before I bought my scale.  Often books specify table salt as the accurate volume measure for their recipes but if not for that I would have never used table salt at all. (Another great reason to use a scale.) I just don’t care for the flavor and it is treated with an anti-caking agent so that it can easily be used to sprinkle from salt shakers which I think can make it taste a little bitter.  Even so I can’t honestly tell you that it makes a difference to me when I use it in my breads.

 
Ramona's picture
Ramona

Unrefined sea salt is not only better in taste, but also in nutrition.  The regular salt that is bought in grocery stores does have additives and they will not dissolve in water.  So, they do not just disappear in your body either.  Your body deposits them in your arteries and hardens them and also, in your kidneys.  Natural sea salt will not give you kidney stones, but the grocery store salt will.   I recently came across the Himalayan pink salt.  I am not a salt lover, but this salt is very good.  It is the most costliest salt that I have ever bought, but I enjoy it, which says alot for me, because like I said, I am not a salt lover, although I buy good sea salt.  This salt is stated to be bio-chemically "alive" and contains the same 84 key trace minerals as our bodies, so it is easily metabolized.  I never cook with salt, because I was taught by someone in the health world for over 30 years, that salt changes it's chemical makeup when cooked and should not be used in cooking.  I add salt to my cooking afterwards.  I gave in to using it in my doughs though, because I became convinced by others' advice, that it is needed to make a good bread.  Simple things like salt can make a big difference in peoples' diets, believe it or not.  It may cost a little more, but it is worth it, not only the pleasure of the flavor, but the health benefits also. 

KipperCat's picture
KipperCat

For years I've cooked with kosher salt, simply because it's easier to add with my fingers at the stovetop. It recently occurred to me that this isn't real smart for one with low thyroid function, especially one who doesn't eat ocean fish and seafood on a frequent basis. So I've been using regular table salt again. Once I find a sea salt with nice large flakes that doesn't cost a small fortune, I'll use it at the stovetop.

It's my understanding that while sea salt is not iodized it has naturally occurring iodine, along with several other minerals.

There are plenty of fine grained sea salts available as well, so I'll probably get that for baking purposes.

EDITED TO ADD -  A quick look at Wikipedia indicates that the amount of iodine in sea salt is actually quite low.

Maeve's picture
Maeve

just because of this thread I decided to see if I could detect a difference between table salt and kosher salt.

The kosher salt actually tasted better! 

I've been using regular table salt in my bread (with decent results), but next time I'm going to try the kosher salt.