Extra Helpings: A Salty Adventure


Deb asks: I have a huge problem. I’ve always been faithful to Mr. Morton… dull, white and iodized. But lately I’ve wanted to break free and try something more exotic, like Himalayan or Black. Help! I am eager for a salty adventure!

I understand your lust for something new, so don’t feel bad about being unfaithful to Mr. Morton. 

I know I’m always harping about Americans having too much sodium in their diets, and I really believe this, but I also think that when you cook at home, you need a little salt to accentuate the other flavors in the dish. Without salt, some recipes taste especially bland. You just have to keep in mind, a little salt goes a long way, and non-salt blends are a flavorful alternative.

Now, back to your quest for adventure—the salts you use in the kitchen come in two basic categories: sea salt and mined salt. Sea salt is evaporated from ocean water and can have a different flavor and color. Contrary to popular belief, sea salt is not a low-sodium version of table salt. Mined salt comes from deposits found in dry seabeds. Mr. Morton is a mined salt that has iodine and anti-caking agents

Gourmet salts are really popular now, but most people can’t tell a difference in taste, it’s more a texture thing. Chefs like using Kosher salt because it doesn’t cloud clear liquids, can be crushed with the fingers before it is added to dishes and dissolves faster in food.

The good thing about salt is that because it is a mineral and not a spice, it doesn’t lose its flavor over time. So if you spend a little extra on a gourmet salt for a dish you’re making today, you know the salt will still be good in a year or two. Here’s a little primer on some of the more popular salts, many of which can be found at The Spice House.

Murray River: A flaky peach-colored salt with a delicate mild flavor from Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin in southeastern Australia. Great for finishing dishes.

Maldon Sea Salt: A pure soft, flaky crystal salt from Essex that has a bright white color. Dissolves quickly.

Tidman’s Rock Salt: This all-natural mined, coarse crystal salt is perfect for salt mills and grinders.

La Baliene: This white sea salt comes coarse or fine. This salt, found only in a protected area in Camargue, France is what remains after the sun has evaporated ocean water.

Malandel Fleur de Sel: This flower of salt is hand-harvested in Paludier, France in limited quantities. Some say this white salt has the aroma of violets and that it draws out other ingredients when used in a dish.
Esprit du Sel Fleur de Sel: The people in Re, France, where this white salt is hand harvested, say this is the most intense sea salt produced in France. I’ll admit, it does smell just like the ocean.


Himalaya Salt: There is a lot of argument as to where this salt is actually mined, some say Nepal, others say Pakistan. The packages always say “from the foothills of the Himalayas.” Whatever. I like it because it has a delicate pink color and is perfect for finishing dishes.

Ittica d’Or Sicilian Sea Salt: Hand harvested from salt pans between Trapani and Marsala on Sicily’s west coast. This salt tastes like the sea, with briny, mineral qualities.

New Zealand
Marlborough Flaky: This flaky, white salt is harvested from the ocean waters in salt fields between New Zealand’s North and South Islands.
Pacific Natural Sea Salt: This is also harvested in salt fields between New Zealand’s North and South Islands and is a certified organic salt.

Sel Traditionael de l’Ocean Atlantique: This is a lot like France’s wet grey sea salt, but is lighter in color and a whole lot cheaper, even though it is also hand harvested.
Flor de Sal, Saltcream Sea Salt: This crumbly, wet white salt is called “Salt cream” because, like cream, it rises to the top of the salt beds before it is harvested. Like it’s counterpart in France, Fleur de Sel, Saltcream is raked from the top of the drying pile so it has a fluffy texture. Saltcream comes from the Algarve region of Portugal.

United States
Hawaiian Black Lava: Also call Hiwa Kai, this coarse grained salt is harvested on the tiny island of Molokai. Charcoal is added to the salt for color and is believed to help in digestion. This salt has a nutty flavor.

Maine Sea Salt: Based on Bailey Island, sea water is simmered over a hard wood fire and then evaporated in shallow pools in green houses. Great for seasoning seafood!

Try any of these…and, no disrespect to Mr. Morton, salty adventure awaits!




I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com