Salt – the worldwide staple in cooking and baking and the king of all seasonings. There are many forms of salt, such as kosher salt, which is coarse in texture, does not contain iodine (a mineral that is important to obtain from the diet), and is used during the cooking process. (1)
It is called kosher salt because it is used when making meats “kosher” by helping to draw blood from the animal quickly. Kosher salt got its official name in the early 20th century after many Jewish individuals migrated to the United States. (2)
Morton Salt Company began packaging these large salt crystals as “Kosher Salt” in order to contribute to the market for Jewish people who were strictly kosher.
Kosher salt is especially popular amongst chefs alike because unlike table salt, kosher salt does not have any processing involved and retains naturally occurring minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, and calcium, which provides a more natural flavor. (3)
Table salt is different in that it is extracted from salt deposits, processed to give it its fine and grainy consistency, and has additives added in order to keep it from clumping together, leaving it with little to no minerals.
The additives found in table salt often gives it a more metallic taste, which can ruin the complex flavor profile of most dishes.
Due to the large size of its crystals, kosher salt, by volume, has fewer sodium ions than table salt, due to the fact that it takes more table salt crystals to equal the size of one kosher salt crystal.
This does not mean that it is healthier, however, for most dishes and recipes call for a quantity of kosher salt that still provides high amounts of sodium ions, which contributes to increased blood pressure, dehydration, and other ailments.
As many Americans are moving to a more health-conscious perspective, salt is becoming less popular in many households, for the health consequences of its consumption far outweigh the benefits. This is why many people want to and should steer clear of added salt and find just as delicious and actual healthy alternatives.
If you don’t have Kosher salt in your kitchen, or if you are looking for a good replacement, here’s what you can use instead:
Himalayan salt is becoming more popular in kitchens all across America and the West, for its off-pink coloring makes it an excellent choice for food presentation. This salt is halite (meaning rock salt), which is mined from the Salt Range mountains found at the southernmost part of the Himalayas, bordering Pakistan.
Himalayan salt is similar to table salt, for it contains around the same percentage of sodium chloride, but it does lack iodine. The flavor of this salt is quite potent, for it contains less minerals than its salt counterparts, making the sodium chloride content more sharp and flavorful.
This salt is phenomenal for curing meats, can be used to make ice cream, and to add a burst of flavor to any dish, being mindful of how much is used of course.
Table salt, the king of the kitchen and the most used seasoning in kitchens and restaurants, found everywhere around the world. It is 97% sodium chloride and if found in America, is fortified with iodine to prevent the development of goiter.
It has fine crystals, making it easy to dissolve, which adds more flavor to any dish it’s added to. Table salt can literally be used for anything, from cooking to baking, and is the preferred salt to use when baking cakes, muffins, cookies, and brownies.
The ratio of kosher salt to sea salt is 5:4. This means if you need 5 teaspoons of kosher salt in your recipe, you would need to use only 4 teaspoons of sea salt. In other words, you’ll use a little bit less salt than you would with kosher salt.
Celery salt confuses many people, for some believe that it is salt extracted from celery. It is actually not “salt,” but a seasoning made from grinding up dried celery seeds, giving it the potency and consistency of table salt.
Typically during production, calcium silicate is added to prevent clumping, which does add to the flavor. It is rich in potassium, so diabetics with kidney issues should steer clear from this powerful seasoning. Its uses include bloody mary cocktails, chicken seasoning, on salads, coleslaws, in stews, and in salads.
Fleur de Sel
Fleur de sel (French for flower of salt) is a salt that is hand-harvested and extracted from the seawater around the Guerande area in France, for it crystallizes and forms the thin surface found on top of seawater. (5)
It receives no refining and due to the amount of work that goes into harvesting such an exquisite salt, it is one of the most expensive salts on the market, running about 100 times the cost of regular table salt. It is not typically used during the cooking process, for it is used to sprinkle on food just before presentation.
Alaea salt (also known as Hawaiian red salt) is a salt found around the volcanoes in Hawaii and is rich in iron oxide, a compound found in volcanic clay (alaea), providing the rich red color that sets this salt apart. (6)
Due to the potent nature of this salt, it is typically used for curing salmon, octopus, and pork and is used as a tenderizer for other meats and for adding depth to Poke bowls.
Here are 8 herb, spice, and vegetable alternatives to salt in the case that salt is not appropriate for your diet.
Mrs. DASH Seasonings
Mrs. DASH is a brand of salt-free seasonings that were designed for people who had hypertension and other heart diseases. DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, and is a diet that promotes an eating behavior that controls high blood pressure by limiting salt intake.
These seasonings can be found at most grocery stores and come in a variety of flavors, including garlic, herb, fiesta lime, Italian medley, lemon pepper, steak, table blend, and extra spicy to name a few.
Lemon or Lime Juice
Using lemon or lime juice in any recipe will make your dish pop, adding tartness and acidity to every meal. The juice from a lemon or lime is bold and adds flavor that salt simply never could.
It pairs well in stir-fries, on vegetables, in dressings, on meat, in desserts, and in so many other dishes, the possibilities are almost limitless. It is the most affordable and one of the healthiest ways to boost up the flavor in the kitchen.
Fresh herbs are underutilized, yet overly abundant in gardens, backyards, fields, and grocery stores. I never understood why people do not incorporate these flavorful plants more often, for they are easy to grow, bursting with flavor, are packed with vitamins and minerals, and can be used for more than cooking.
Fresh herbs, such as thyme, basil, sage, rosemary, mint, cilantro, oregano, and parsley, are incredible on their own or in dressings, on vegetables and meats, in stews and soups, in marinades, in bread and other baked goods, and in sauces.
Garlic has been utilized for thousands of years in cooking by everyone from the Ancient Chinese, to the Romans and Greeks. It not only serves in cooking, but was actually used by the Americans fighting in Vietnam to prevent infections from developing in open wounds, due to its ability to act as an antimicrobial and antifungal. (7, 8)
Garlic, with its earthy, pungent, and spicy flavor that when cooked, brings out a slightly sweet and mellow taste, making it the perfect addition to any savory dish or dressing.
Onion is a phenomenal vegetable with a complex flavor profile that is loved by virtually everyone. It is incredible to eat on its own, in salads, in sandwiches, in stir-fries, grilled, sauteed, and many other ways. It adds depth, a slight sweetness, and a touch of savory goodness to any dish it touches!
Black pepper, the best friend to salt and the queen of the kitchen. It is used all over the world and it is one of the most used spices. It is not as hot as white pepper, but has more flavor than green peppercorn.
Most recipes you obtain include black pepper, for it adds boldness, body, spice, and a sharp, pungent kick. This spice goes great in dressings, on vegetables, in marinades, as a garnish, and even in some cocktails. The boldness of black pepper is enough to be able to ditch the salt.
While nutritional yeast has been incorporated into vegan cuisine for years, it is gaining in popularity amongst meat eaters and health-conscious individuals alike, making its way into the pantries of millions of Americans and people from around the globe.
Nutritional yeast is deactivated (does not assist in the leavening of baked products) yeast and can be sold either as flakes or as a yellow powder, depending on the method by which you are cooking with it.
The flavor of nutritional yeast is complex, for it has a nutty, cheesy, and creamy flavor. It can be used as a garnish for popcorn, in cheese dips, as a cheese substitute in macaroni and cheese or in dips, in cream-based soups, or in eggs.
If you don’t mind the spice and heat, chili peppers make for an excellent alternative to salt. Chili peppers are not just hot, but depending on the type, they can taste sweet, nutty, smoky, citrusy, earthy, or fruity.
You can use chili peppers in salsa, you can grill them, eat them raw, add them to dressings and sauces, use them in chili, stews, and soups, and you can add them to curries. They are rich in capsaicin, the world’s top anti-inflammatory compound, so by incorporating more of them into your diet, you can help to decrease any chronic pain you may experience due to inflammation! (9,10)