Throw Out Your Salt and Pepper and Do It Now!
There a several reasons to get rid of the Salt and Pepper in your cupboards and pantry. The main reason is that those condiments were old when they arrived at your local grocery store, and they were even older when you bought them and took them home.
We will cover Salt first and then move on to Pepper.
Types of Salt:
There are many different types of salt including “flavoured” ones. The type of salt that most people are familiar with is good old Table Salt, Non-Iodized and Iodized. This salt is ground very finely ground and has no other taste than salt, and Iodine. Table Salt isn’t used in very many, if any commercial kitchens, one reason for that is Table salt in addition to enhancing the flavour of foods, also makes the food salty. Most Professional Chefs and a large number of Home Chefs use Kosher Salt as it is coarsely ground and contains in most cases fifty percent of sodium than table salt. What is kosher salt? Hold up: Before we get to that, what the hell is “iodized salt,” the stuff that is not kosher salt but is in basically every salt shaker ever? Well, after consulting with my friend Wikipedia, I have learned that iodine is the heaviest stable halogen element, and was discovered by my other good friend Bernard Courtois in 1811. Cool. What I definitely do know is that iodine doesn’t taste great, and nobody wants bad-tasting things mixed into their salt. OK, but other than not having iodine in it, what is kosher salt, anyway? Is it blessed by a rabbi? Is it actually kosher? Well, it can be. But really, kosher salt is called kosher salt because the size of its crystals is ideal for drawing out moisture from meat, making it perfect for use in the koshering process. That’s also why we love to use it for cooking almost everything. Kosher salt is the MVP of our breakfast, lunch, and dinner seasoning game.
Crystal size isn’t something you normally think about when looking at a finer salt like kosher (or even finer table salt). But you should. We also steer clear of iodized table salt because, in addition to that unpleasant iodine flavour, the crystals are tiny and extremely compact. That means there is literally more salt in a pinch than there is with kosher salt. Smaller crystals dissolve almost instantly, making over-salting food a lot easier to do.
Kosher salt, on the other hand, has slightly larger crystals and therefore a more pinch-able, easy to control texture. We use it any time there’s a seasoning moment while cooking, whether it be salting pasta water or seasoning a whole chicken pre-roast. That means that you can sprinkle Kosher Salt in preparation increasing the layering of flavour without making things salty.
The majority of Kosher Salts contain more minerals than does your ordinary Table Salt, and that makes them healthier for you, in addition to their lower Sodium content.
The most commonly used Kosher Salt is Diamond Crystal Pure and Natural Kosher Salt, it is a very high-quality Kosher Salt and at a price that fits most budgets. There is one important caveat to know when using any Kosher Salt; that is the majority of them have no additives including Iodine, an essential element that your body needs.
While Kosher Salt is great for cooking it isn’t usually used at the table as the large crystals don’t dissolve very fast, and most people don’t want to be crunching on crystals of salt while enjoying their Sour Cream and Chives Mashed Potatoes. There is a caveat to that and we will get to that in a bit.
Yes, there is a plethora of Kosher Salts on the market and which one you use will depend upon your taste and your budget. Some of the other most common Kosher Salts that are available are Selina Celtic Sea Salt Light Gray Kosher Salt (Mom uses this one), Himalayan Pink Salt (only a third less Sodium, but more minerals than Table Salt. Mom tried this one only so-so), and yes good old Morton Kosher Salt (only as a last resort). There are many other ones available depending upon where you live and the stores in your area. While Amazon has a large variety of Kosher Salt, I don’t recommend trying new ones from there is unless you buy only a small amount. While most Kosher Salts due to their size won’t pour out of a standard Salt Shaker, if necessary you can grind them smaller to fit in a Salt Shaker. However, you can store your choice of Kosher Salt in an airtight container and only open it while cooking. Mom does have some of the Selina Celtic Sea Salt Light Gray Kosher Salt in a ceramic Salt Grinder. A sprinkle of Sea Salt goes a long way.
Now on to that caveat I mentioned, there is another style of Kosher Sea Salts and that is the flake variety. Hands down the best of that lot is Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, the description from their website: “The unique pyramid shape of our flakes is our company trademark and is as distinctive as the taste of the salt itself. Chefs and cooks everywhere love the tactile texture of Maldon Salt. Always a pinch of inspiration. Our soft, crunchy sea salt flakes contain the perfect balance of natural minerals, offering a fresh intensity and clean taste to enhance any dish.” They also have a Smoked Variety. Since their flakes have a soft crunch to them Mom uses them at the table as well as in cooking. Once you try these flakes you will be hooked.
Mom is sure that once you start using any Kosher Salt in cooking you will never go back to ordinary Table Salt again.
So, to summarize Table Salt with Iodine bad taste, extra Sodium. Kosher Salt any variety more flavour, less Sodium, and more Minerals!
If you have ever watched a Cooking Show on TV, and were aghast at the amount of sat that the Chef was using. Now you know why their food didn’t taste like a spoon of salt, Kosher Salt allows you to layer the flavour without massive amounts of Sodium. Try some, you just might like it.
There is a lot more to know about the different types of salt, I have tried to open the door to more flavours and less Sodium in your kitchen.
Throw Out Your Store-Bought Ground Pepper ~ Now!
Mom can’t understand a very perplexing thing, people love getting fresh cracked pepper when they eat at restaurants, yet they use stale, flavourless, store-bought ground pepper at home? Mom wants to know why?
Fresh Cracked Pepper has a lot more flavour, and aroma than any store-bought Ground Pepper could ever think of emulating.
There’s a rainbow of peppercorns out there just waiting to be ground and sprinkled. (Photos: Paul Harrison.)
The following text is from Paul Harrison’s COOKING CLASS
What Are The Different Kinds Of Peppercorns? From the Food Republic Website. The information presented is clean and informative much better than I could do. Mom even learned a lot from this article.
Pepper is a pretty amazing spice. It was one of the linchpins of the ancient spice trade and the source of a lot of flavor-based fighting. With that considered, we sort of take it for granted. Even the trashiest diner has a little shaker of ground pepper on every table. But did you know that there’s way more to pepper than those flat-tasting black bits? Please note: I love diners, just not their crappy pepper shakers. Let’s fill our mills with something a little better.
This is the stuff you know and recognize: little black pellets. They’re the dried fruit of a flowering pepper vine. To produce black pepper, the unripe berries are harvested, cooked and dried — and sometimes just dried in the sun without cooking. This plant is originally native to southern India, but it now grows in many places throughout the tropics, and depending on where it’s grown, you’ll get different varieties.
Tellicherry (at left in the photo above) is probably the best-known variety. It comes from India and typically has larger specimens than other black peppercorns, with a very complex flavor profile. Malabar pepper comes from the same area as Tellicherry, but they’re picked less close to ripeness and are a bit more pungent in flavor. There are also other varieties of many origins, including but not limited to Sarawack (Malaysia), Lampong (Sumatra), Vietnamese (take a guess) and Talamanca (Ecuador, above right). These all have different nuances based on terroir, climate and harvesting practices.
These begin the same way as black pepper, except the fruit is soaked in water after harvest until the skins soften and are removed. These taste similar to black pepper but lack some of the pungent flavor. They are usually used in cream sauces, mashed potatoes or any other uniformly light-colored dish where black pepper would visibly stand out. Like black pepper, there are different varieties of white peppercorns, and many share names and regions.
These fruits are picked while immature and unripe (hence the green color), then either air-dried, freeze-dried or brined. They’re aromatic, with a fresher, fruitier flavor than white or black pepper, but not nearly as sharp and astringent as black. This is the original pepper used for steak au poivre and other classic peppercorn sauces, and brined green peppercorns are popular in French cuisine.
These don’t come from the standard pepper plant that produces the above three varieties, but from either the Peruvian (Schinus molle) or Brazilian pepper tree (Schinus terebinthifolius). They’re similar in flavor to black pepper, but milder, a tiny bit sweet and highly fruity. Pink pepper adds great color to whatever you’re making — I’ve recently become a regular user of these in my cooking for both flavor and aesthetic reasons. These are actually more closely related to cashews than black pepper from the standard vine (science!), so be wary if you suffer from tree nut allergies. If you like to live dangerously, however, take note: These lack the “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) label from the FDA.
These are an essential ingredient in a lot of Chinese Cuisine (and that of surrounding areas such as Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet), including the legendary five-spice blend. They are not at all related to the other peppercorns, and the flavor lacks the pungency and bite of black, white and green pepper. It’s more citrus-forward, with gradually mounting heat that leaves your mouth feeling deliciously tingly.
The first thing you notice about long pepper is it’s powerful sweet-spicy fragrance. Not a peppercorn, the usable part of this plant is actually a flower spike coated in tiny poppy seed–size fruit. They taste a lot like black pepper, with some extra heat. You’ll see them called for in many Indian, Nepalese, North African, Malaysian, and Indonesian recipes.
Grains of Paradise
These are also not peppercorns, but the seeds from a plant in the ginger family, though they are sometimes referred to as Melegueta or “alligator” pepper. Grains of paradise have a peppery flavor that’s a bit citrusy and are often used in North and West African cuisine. It’s also a popular flavoring agent used to flavor craft beer and spirits.
Mom uses several different types of Peppercorns in her kitchen. Mom uses Black Peppercorns, White Peppercorns and Mélange/Mixed/Rainbow Peppercorns. The Rainbow Peppercorns are usually a mix of Black, Green, White, and Pink Peppercorns and have a lot more subtle flavours as well as the usual pepper heat. (Blend will vary by locale.) While lots of folks both professional and home based love Tellicherry Peppercorn, while they do have a complex flavour profile Mom found them way too mild for her taste. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try them, Mom just like her food a little bit spicy!
Mom uses the Rainbow Peppercorns for every day use, the Malabar Black Peppercorns for Steaks, and the White Peppercorns for Chowders, Cream Soups, and Mashed Taters.
Freshly ground Peppercorns of any variety allow you to experience their whole flavour profile as well as their intoxicating aroma. You will also get Ground Pepper without any additives or fillers. When ordering Mélange Peppercorns always check the ingredients as some mixtures contain All Spice and other spices. The mixture with Allspice is great for Jamaican or Caribbean Cooking.
Mom uses a High Grade Ceramic Grinder for both Mom’s Sea Salt and Peppercorns, the grinders that Mom uses are easily refillable allowing easy switching between the different types of Salts and Peppercorns. They are also easily adjustable, allowing just the perfect coarseness that the food requires. Ceramic Grinders unlike Metal and Plastic Grinders do not put unwanted particles into your food. Also, make sure that the lid to your Grinders is Air Tight to preserve the freshness of your Salt Crystal and Peppercorns.
Until next time when Mom will teach you how to properly stock your refrigerator and everything you ever wanted to know about Mustard.