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SALT

Listed below are some salt types used in Finnish cooking and in the recipes of this site.

Salt consists of the mineral sodium chloride (NaCl) and some small amounts of other minerals. Salt is obtained either from sea water (sea salt) or from salt mines (rock salt).

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Salt

Regular table salt

Regular white table salt is obtained from rock salt, mined from salt mines. Most of these underground rock salt deposits have been formed by the evaporation of ancient lakes and seas. Famous ancient salt mines in Europe are the Wieliczka salt mine in Poland and the prehistoric Hallstatt salt mine in Austria.

Table salt is refined and usually finely ground. Iodine is added to it to prevent hypothyroidism, particularly in areas lacking natural iodine. Also anticaking agents are added to prevent salt from clumping.

Table salt is used to season all kinds of foods. However, it is best to use refined, non-iodized and additive-free sea salt (see below) in salting, preserving or pickling of foods.

Kosher salt is coarser than table salt and usually contains no additives. The large surface area of its crystals allows it to absorb more moisture than other forms of salt, making it ideal to remove the final traces of blood from kosher meats. Like sea salt (see below), it can be used in all cooking. Many prefer its taste to regular table salt.

 
Mineral salt

Seltin mineral salt

In mineral salts part of the salt's sodium chloride is replaced with other, health promoting minerals. This is done to reduce the intake of sodium, which may increase the risk of high blood pressure. These types of salts can be used by anyone and not just by those on low-salt diets.

An example of a good mineral salt is the Swedish patented salt brand Seltin. Half of its content of sodium chloride is replaced with potassium chloride (40 %) and magnesium sulphate (10 %) with added iodine (0,0036 %).

Reducing sodium should not affect the taste of the salt. Mineral salt can be used to season all kinds of food instead of regular salt. Because of its lower sodium content it is not recommended to be used in curing or preserving of foods.


Sea salt

Coarse sea salt
In picture above: coarse-textured sea salt.

Sea salt is obtained through evaporation or distillation of water in seas or salt lakes. It is available both refined and unrefined. Unrefined sea salt is darker in colour because it retains more of the minerals naturally occurring in seawaters than refined sea salt. The colour of unrefined sea salt may vary from dark grey to reddish brown, while refined sea salt is usually white, almost colourless.

There are many different types of sea salts coming from various places around the world, differing in flavour, texture and colour. Some of them are regarded as "gourmet products", favoured by many chefs (see gourmet salts, right). Many think the flavour of sea salt is somewhat lighter and softer than that of regular, iodized table salt. Sea salts contain only a low amount of naturally occurring iodine, unless supplemented with it, which should be noted when consuming them.

Fine sea salt
In picture above: fine-textured sea salt.

Because of its texture and clean flavour, the regular refined, coarse sea salt is perfect to be used in salting, pickling, curing and preserving of foods, as well as in seasoning all kinds of food instead of regular salt. Regular, pure sea salt is very cheap to use even in large quantities. Coarse and medium-coarse sea salt may be replaced with kosher salt (see above).

Gourmet salts

Maldon salt

Some types of sea salts coming from certain areas of the world are regarded as "gourmet salts". These include the English Maldon salt with its pyramid-shaped salt crystals (in picture above), and the caviar of salts, the "Flower of the salt", the finest (and most expensive) of which are the Fleur de sel of Guérande, France and the Flor de sal of Algarve, Portugal.

Fleur de sel de Guérande
In picture above: fleur de sel de Guérande.

Gourmet salts typically contain no additives. The finest of these salts are never cooked with the food, but only sprinkled on top of finished dishes to retain the fine flavour of the salt.


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