Grocery Guide

No-Nonsense Sea Salt

"Why is there a date on the bottom of the box?" asked my son, as I self-scanned the Hain Sea Salt. It was one of those astute kid questions, from a mind uncluttered by logic.

"I have no idea," I conceded. The salt had been flowing around the oceans for the last 250 million years, so why would it suddenly expire in March of 2013? An inspection of the label revealed calcium silicate as an ingredient, so that may have something to do with the time limit. But with anti-caking agent in the salt, I saw no reason to pay more for it than regular Morton table salt.

I was searching for a compromise salt to replace the oversize grains of kosher salt that I tossed by the handful into boiling cooking water, for vegetables and pasta. I also wanted a sea salt I could sprinkle on food. The grains of the Hain were the size of regular table salt.

I'd tried a fancy sea salt, settling with the first one I'd sampled--Maldon Sea Salt--and I loved the taste, but the flakes are too large for anything but steak and pork chops. The seasoning has become more exotic since then, with Himalayan Pink, Hawaiian Black Lava, French Grey Sea Salt, and Galveston Bay Brown (okay, I made that last one up). Most of them are too coarse and "gourmette" for my purposes.

As could be expected, Morton Salt finally stepped into the category. The company's in Chicago, which bases its culinary pride on hot dogs, pizza, and beer, and it takes a similar practical approach to sea salt. The grains are coarse enough to toss by the handful, without clinging annoyingly to the skin, but just small enough to fit through the holes of a salt shaker. It has no caking agent, so there's none of that chalky taste when I salt half the rim of a margarita, yet it doesn't clump much, even in torrid Houston summers. I reckon it'll be good for the next 250 million years.

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John Kiely
Contact: John Kiely