Salt, a staple in every kitchen, is more than just a flavor enhancer. It's a tale of chemistry, health, and culinary art.
Types of Salt
Table Salt: This common kitchen ingredient is harvested from salt mines and undergoes more processing to achieve fine grains. Additives are often used to prevent clumping, enhancing its ability to bind with food due to smaller grains.
Sea Salt: Harvested from the ocean, sea salt is less processed. It often contains trace minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. In the US, sea salt production is frequently a small business operation.
Kosher Salt: Originating from salt mines, its coarser grains aid in the Koshering process, which involves removing blood from meat and poultry. Kosher salt might have slightly less sodium per teaspoon compared to table salt due to its larger crystals.
Health and Nutrition
The recommended daily intake of sodium is 2300 mg, roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of salt. Sodium chloride (NaCl) is a major electrolyte that regulates fluids outside cells. However, excessive salt intake can adversely affect blood pressure.
Iodine is often added to salt for thyroid function. This practice began in 1924 with Morton's Salt, following FDA approval. It was a response to the discovery that iodine could reduce goiters, first noticed by a Swiss physician who observed a decrease in goiters among his patients consuming iodine-enriched alcohol.
Is Diamond Crystal Salt Really Different for Cooking?
Among the various options available, Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt has garnered a reputation for its unique characteristics. But is it really different from other kosher salts? Let's delve into the nuances that set Diamond Crystal apart.
Crystal Size and Shape
Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt is distinct due to its pyramid-shaped crystals. This shape is the result of a patented process, leading to a salt that's flakier and has a larger surface area than most. In contrast, other kosher salts, like Morton's, have a more regular, flatter crystal. This difference in crystal shape impacts how the salt interacts with ingredients, both in terms of dissolving and flavor distribution.
Texture and Dissolvability
The texture of Diamond Crystal is notably flaky and airy. This quality means it dissolves more readily in recipes, providing a more even seasoning experience. Chefs often prefer it for its finesse and the subtle way it enhances flavors. Denser kosher salts might not dissolve as quickly, which can lead to uneven seasoning in your dishes.
Saltiness and Volume
Here's where things get interesting: Diamond Crystal's airy crystals mean it's less dense. A pinch of Diamond Crystal contains less salt compared to a pinch of denser kosher salts. So, if you're following a recipe that specifies Diamond Crystal and you use a different brand, you might end up with a saltier dish than intended.
This difference in density and crystal size also affects measurements. When measured by volume, Diamond Crystal and other kosher salts do not have the same weight. This is particularly crucial in baking, where precise measurements are key. Always consider this factor, or better yet, measure your salt by weight for accuracy.
Like most kosher salts, Diamond Crystal typically lacks iodine, a nutrient added to regular table salt. This lack of iodine is a common feature among kosher salts, not a unique aspect of Diamond Crystal.