Every voyage needs a map, and your journey through the world of Beyond the Shaker is no different.
For a downloadable version of this Salt Guide, click here.
For this reason, we have created a comprehensive guide to the wonderful world of salt to aide you in your culinary travels. After all, we hope not only to enhance your food with the delightful flavors of our premium salt, but also to enrich your knowledge of earth's most timeless, delicious mineral with a fascinating account of the life of salt. Enjoy the journey!
Salt has an unparalleled timelessness—it has existed as long as there has been water and rock on this earth to create it, and it will continue to exist well beyond our lifetimes.
Salt—or sodium chloride—is an inorganic mineral, meaning it does not come from plants or animals but rather from our earth's most abundant element—water. Salt forms in our oceans from the erosion of rocks upon which it ebbs and flows, and it is one of the earth's greatest resources.
Can you imagine life without salt?! Neither can we. Nor do we want to—bland, mediocre, and utterly lackluster. Luckily, an entire world of salt is available to us—as vast and varied as the bodies of water that create it.
We at Beyond the Shaker will guide you through your journey in to this world of salt—the history, benefits, and sheer wonder of it—and we know you will grow to appreciate life Beyond the Shaker as much as we do.
The two main types of salt that we use the most at Beyond the Shaker are sea salts (that are usually harvested) and mined salts—both of which are used as bases for our blended salts.
You'd be amazed how many varied forms salt can take! Whether harvested or mined, using salt really is like bringing a little piece of earth's history into your life and your cuisine—and who knew history could be so delicious!
Harvesting salt is the oldest form of collecting salt. This salt—sometimes referred to as solar salt—comes from our current water sources and is separated from the sea water by evaporation. Harvested salt is nurtured, grown, and harvested much like a traditional farm crop.
The crop beds, though, consist of water instead of earth and can take years to reach the desired maturity for proper harvesting. The evaporation process for harvested salt may also occur with a little help from modern technology to hasten the evaporation without compromising the integrity of the salt.
Mining excavates the rock salt—salt formed naturally in underground and sometimes above ground deposits that have remained after ancient oceans and bodies of water have long since evaporated.
For example, Himalayan Pink Salt, which we feature in our Pure Foundation series as well as utilize as a base in our Garlic Shallot blended salt, is mined from ancient inland seas that have since dried up but left gorgeous, fine salt with a delicate flavor and a pink tint—a result of the iron trapped in the earth from which it is mined.
Sea salt can come in all different shapes and sizes, but it is essentially the salt that remains after sea water has evaporated—and we're so glad it sticks around for us to reap its benefits (and flavors!).
Because of its lack of processing, unrefined sea salt may contain hints of minerals and other elemental particles. Don't worry; this is a really good side effect! These oceanic influences cast marvelous hues to the salt and infuse complex but often subtle flavors into the delicate salt crystals.
Our Pure Foundations series of salts showcase the flavorful rainbow that varieties of sea salts can create. The vibrant pink of our Bolivian Rose. The soft coral of our Red Alaea. The mysterious grey of Sel Gris. The distinctive ebony of our Hawaiian Black Lava. These salts truly are a celebration of salt in its purest and most fundamental form.
Our unrefined sea salts are like sophisticated wine varietals—but unlike a good wine that can only be enjoyed in a wine glass, Beyond the Shaker has freed these salts so they may be enjoyed and used for many purposes—whether it be on your dinner plate, in your soup bowl, or even on the rim of your favorite cocktail!
Kosher salt is mined—that is, it does not come from our current seas but rather is mined from long gone and dried up oceans, sea beds, or other former bodies of water. Unlike most table salt—which is also mined—Kosher salt usually does not contain any iodine or additives. After it is mined, Kosher salt is allowed to dry naturally and without any help from refining processes.
In fact, Kosher salt often is considered the purest type of salt as its main purpose is to remove other impurities. It has a mild taste and large granules that make it easy to pinch for sprinkling.
Because of its size, it's best not to use Kosher salt for your baking recipes that may not contain enough liquid to dissolve its signature hearty granules. For other non-baking dishes, though, keep your Kosher salt handy since—all puns aside—it really is good to use in a pinch!
Kosher salt, also known as Koshering salt or coarse cooking salt, does not get its name from actually being Kosher. Rather, Kosher salt is used in the preparation of meats, according to guidelines outlined in the Torah, by drawing blood from butchered meat to remove impurities. This is Kosher salt's technical purpose, but of course we can use and enjoy it in many other different ways.
To learn more about Kosher salt's many virtues and purposes within the Jewish religion, visit Chabad.org or jewishrecipes.org.
A diverse world of amazing sea salts is available to incorporate into your culinary repertoire, but perhaps the most coveted is the enigmatic fleur de sel.
French for "flower of salt," Fleur de Sel has been referred to as "the caviar of salt" by food aficionados around the globe, and it is by far one of our personal favorites.
As if the history of salt wasn't rich enough, the history of fleur de sel in particular is quite extraordinary.
For centuries, fleur de sel has been a source of pride for those who hand-harvest this French jewel native to the coast of Brittany. Several regions off the coast of Brittany cultivate fleur de sel, such as Noirmoutier and Carmague, but the most coveted fleur de sel comes from the marshy meadows of Geurande, France—a town that has been the cornerstone of fleur de sel production since its inception in France in the 9th century.
As is true with most things in life that are worthwhile, the cultivation of fleur de sel is truly a labor of love. And to this day, paludiers—salt farmers—cultivate this jewel with the same traditions and techniques of their predecessors from centuries ago.
The wind, sun, and humidity all need to be just right. Every minute details counts when it comes to cultivating this exquisite salt, and the paludiers devote their life to capturing that perfection.
The attention, passion, and devotion the paludiers have for harvesting the young crystals is reminiscent of a vintner toiling over his land to ensure his wine grapes are absolutely perfect for the picking. Every gesture the paludier makes with his las—the wooden rake used to collect the crystals—is deliberate, meticulous, and gratifying. And just as a skilled vintner produces exquisite wines with a marvelous spectrum of flavors and tastes particular to that season, so too do the paludiers produce harvests of fleur de sel infused with unique flavors of the elements and environment that created it.
Fleur de sel has a powerful delicacy and an unbridled white hue, and it is an absolute delight when it graces your dinner plate.