Crayon-sized pieces of rock salt are often used in home cooking for its ability to absorb and hold moisture. It is mostly available in salt form but it can also be found in baking and pickling food preparations. However, there is a wide array of other varieties of coarse salt, which are better suited for different uses and intended for various culinary purposes. It is necessary to learn more about these various types before deciding which is best for you.
Kosher salt or coarse salt is the most common type of coarse salt commonly found in homes. It is kosher (which means unleavened) salt with no additives like iodine, potassium, iron or other minerals that help retain moisture in food. Typically used at the table and not on the grill, it usually consists mostly of sodium chloride. Although its texture is coarse, its bulkiness is ideal for seasoning and cooking. It is mostly used for cooking and for preparing dough and breads.
Crystal kosher salt is often called pink salt because of its pinkish color and texture. Like kosher salt, this coarse salt has no texture, and is mostly used for cooking and seasoning foods. It is also sometimes used for washing fruits and vegetables since its color doesn’t alter the natural color of the fruits or vegetables.
Pink sea salt, also known as dolomite salt, has a light, earthy color that is quite similar to the texture of regular salt. Like kosher salt, it has no texture, and is mostly used for cooking and preparing foods that have a milder flavor or are lower in sodium content. Its color makes it ideal for use in baking and creating breads, although it is not recommended for sprinkling onto food.
The content of iron, sulfur and other minerals in sea salt varies according to its source, with darker sea salts having higher contents of these substances. Iron, sulfur and other minerals are used for seasoning and preparing foods and are usually not allowed in processed foods because their presence may alter the taste of the product. On the other hand, kosher salt is allowed in all kinds of processed food, including baby foods, sauces, pickles, soups, stews and other salty dishes. Therefore, sea salt and pink sea salt may be used interchangeably for seasoning and cooking purposes.
Iodine is a necessary component of salt, which helps to regulate the body’s salt levels. Most people consume enough iodine each day without experiencing negative consequences. However, the level of iodine in the average salt tray at home is not high enough to provide a daily requirement, and hence it is important to buy a commercial grade salt with the right level of iodine. A commercial grade salt can help ensure that the user gets the correct amount of iodine, which is necessary to maintain healthy functions in the body. A large number of food items contain sodium chloride, which is a by-product of iodine production in the body, and can pose a health risk if consumed in excess.
An additional factor that makes coarse salt different from regular table salt is its color. Irrespective of where it is obtained, whether from the sea or from a mine, coarse salt always has a bright red color, and hence is also known as kosher salt. This coarse salt differs from regular table salt in its molecular structure, as it contains two atoms instead of one for each of the salt crystal lattice, which gives it the two-lattice structure. As a result, each salt crystal particle contains two electrons instead of one, and hence it is shaped into different sized crystals. This property gives this salt its characteristic red color.
Each salt crystal forms a unique three-dimensional structure, and hence the particles are heavier than the surrounding rock salt. This results in the coarse salt becoming stuck on a smooth surface, which causes the individual granules to grow in number until they reach a certain size. The process of growth is called brittleness. Each coarse salt crystallization has a unique color because of the unique paths the light can take through the crystals. Generally speaking, the longer the crystals grow, the lighter they get, whereas the shorter the crystals grow, the darker they become.