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 4)

Category: Kosher Salt

Taste: 6.91

Appearance: 4

Packaging: 5

Total: 15.91

Serving Suggestion: To brine or kasher meat, great on fries, good for baking. A great all-purpose salt, and at $0.06 per ounce, a great value.

In my past life as a restaurant cook, I used kosher salt exclusively. It's cheap, and it's got a good texture. Still, I was surprised to see it perform so well—perhaps people are accustomed to its flavor because it is widely used. It scored the highest of the salts in the pasta round, where it yielded a "rich, complex, delicious" sauce. It was also a notable fry-coating favorite, where its "organic shapes sparkled."

On its own, this kosher salt looks a bit sickly—grayish and translucent. On fries or the rim of a margarita glass, however, it glistens. The packaging: I was pleased to reunite with my beloved Morton Salt Girl. Unfortunately, she's reduced to a minor character on this box, playing second fiddle to a still-life of vegetables. One note: The canister's spout can be treacherous—best to pour into the hand before sprinkling on food.

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M. Gilles Hervy Fleur de Sel

, $14.00 for 16 ounces ($0.88 per ounce)

Category: Fleur de sel

Taste: 7.11

Appearance: 8

Packaging: 9

Total: 24.11

Serving Suggestions: The SaltWorks Web site suggests, "It is a natural complement to fresh raw vegetables, salads, or grilled meats. A truly fulfilling moment is fresh trimmed radishes dipped in Fleur de Sel and served with sweet butter and sliced baguette." Yum.

A light, crunchy crystal, this winning fleur de sel comes from Brittany (near the town of Guérande, renowned for its fleur de sel harvesting marshes) and true to suggestion, was best on a piece of freshly sliced cucumber where its "smooth flavor" provided a "nice crunchy burst" that finished "amazingly clean—like a clean shave."

Similar to the Camargue fleur de sel, Gilles Hervy's moist square crystals occasionally stick together. In the package, the salt has an amber-gray hue that suggests its natural, hand-harvested origins. $14 seems like a lot for a bag of salt; but I've certainly spent $14 in far less gratifying ways—take that last U2 album, for example.

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Maldon Sea Salt

, $5.50 for 8.5 ounces ($0.65 per ounce)

Category: Sea Salt

Taste: 7.31

Appearance: 10

Packaging: 7

Total: 24.31

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