Which salt is best?

How to be the best consumer you can be.
April 26 2005 4:38 AM

Worth One's Salt

From fleur de sel to kosher, which salt is best?

(Continued from Page 2)

Serving Suggestions: Baking, salting water for pasta, a helping hand around the house, killing slugs (a childhood pastime of mine, now forsaken).

I tested Diamond Crystal instead of Morton because I couldn't find any Morton at my corner supermarket, but I regret that decision. I've always loved the Morton Salt girl—her cute yellow sundress and matching yellow shoes … she's even had poems written about her. But alas, we tested Diamond Crystal, which was found to be "pedestrian." On the fries, the small grains were dismissed as "too strong." No surprises in the looks department—it looks like table salt. And the packaging, well, like I said, I've got a thing for that Morton girl. Diamond is the cheapest of salts—and it seems you get what you pay for.

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La Baleine Sea Salt

(fine), $3.59 for 26.5 ounces ($0.14 per ounce)

Category: Sea Salt

Taste: 5.38

Appearance: 6

Packaging: 7.5

Total: 18.88

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Serving Suggestions: Sauces, baking. Convenient shaker spout allows for even distribution over meats before grilling.

La Baleine (the whale) is the first "gourmet" salt that I ever purchased, and thus I hold some allegiance to it. The French sea salt fared OK in our taste tests, receiving high marks for its contribution to the pasta sauce: It "brought out the flavor of the tomatoes without overpowering them." In the basic tongue test, one taster suggested it was, "An ass-salt on the tongue! Like a bad one night stand—cheap and sleazy." This is probably because the very fine grains dissolve quickly on the tongue. Given its reasonable price, and its relative success in the steak test, La Baleine would make an excellent addition to your outdoor grilling area.

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Ravida Sea Salt

, $12 for 17.85 ounces ($0.67 per ounce)

Category: Sea Salt

Taste: 5.42

Appearance: 8

Packaging: 8

Total: 21.42

Serving Suggestions: With its crispy crystals, best used where a noticeable crunch is desired, as on grilled meats, salads, fresh tomatoes.

The taste results for this Sicilian sea salt were scattershot. One taster described its large, glasslike crystals as "circus salt from a vendor's pretzel." Ravida didn't satisfyingly latch on to the fries and scored rather low that round: As one taster quibbled, "Does not adhere well to the fry. No impact."

It fared well in other areas—the crystals resemble tiny, gleaming diamond fragments. I particularly like the packaging because it shows photographs of salt mounds cast against a deep blue Sicilian sky. I can almost taste the Mediterranean when staring at the canister, but I'm not convinced that makes it worth the $0.67 per ounce price tag.

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