“Do I have to get rid of my salt shaker?” No, it’s your kitchen and you can season it however you’d like. However, have a rainbow of salts at your fingertips and you’ll be giving that white plastic cylinder its final shake.
All salts that are derived from briny water are essentially produced the same way: the water is heated, the liquid H2O evaporates, leaving the NaCl and other trace components behind. (That’s sodium chloride, for you non-chemistry buffs.)
Photo courtesy The Great Salt War
Fleur de Sel
Originally harvested from the shores of Brittany in France and now in production all over the globe, the famous Fleur de Sel translates literally as “flower of salt.” Sea water is collected, poured into drying trays and as the water evaporates, a thin layer of salt “blooms” on the surface. Before it has a chance to sink, the fine grain salt is skimmed and packaged for use.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Traditional in parts of the world where both seawater and sun are plentiful, the method for collecting most commercial sea salt allows salt crystals to sink to the bottom of shallow, outdoor evaporation ponds over a few hours or days. Depending on what the crystals come in contact with, they may pick up color from sand, red clay, grey mud, or be pristinely white. The coarse crystals are raked to the edges of the ponds or pans, and allowed to dry.
Photo courtesy HealthFree.com
Black "Lava" Salt
Harvested from various places around the world, “lava” salt is misleadingly labeled. In most production, there’s no actual lava. Instead, white sea salt is combined with activated charcoal to create beautiful, stark garnish for a white fillet of fish or deviled egg yolk.
Photo courtesy The Nibble
Pink Sea Salts
Pink salt can also start out life as one of the above sea salt production methods and become home to a tiny algae called Dunaliella salina. Rare is the organism that can survive in such a saline environment, but this tiny plant creates carotenoids during photosynthesis. Well-known for their anti-oxidant properties and for making carrots orange, carotenoids are used in dietary supplements and skin care cosmetics. You can get a dose sprinkled on your Caprese salad.
Photo courtesy DrGranny.com
Pink Himilayan Rock Salt
Carved from high in the Himalayan Mountains and The Salt Range, a hilly area on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, this rock salt owes its purity to 200-million years of protection from pollution under the Earth’s surface. While the dinosaurs were walking around, sea beds in this part of the world were drying up and were subsequently sealed away in caves until enterprising miners started carving out blocks for Top Chef contestants. Buying a block means having a presentation platter that can be chilled to serve lox or salads, or heated to 500º in your home oven and used as a centerpiece for guests to satay their own shrimp. This pink salt is also available in every grind imaginable from very chunky to super fine for sprinkling.
Photo courtesy Salt News