Salt is one of the five basic flavors we taste and crave.
When baking bread, salt plays a critical role in the outcome of the final product. You might know salt by its chemical compound name Sodium Chloride.
Kosher salt is the best salt for bread baking because of how salty it is and how clean it is of impurities. You could use many other salts as well. What I look for in salt is for it to be none-iodized.
Salt strengthens the gluten network and helps the dough keep the carbon dioxide gases that are formed during fermentation and proofing, contributing to the volume of the loaf.
In this post, we will discuss 4 types of salt and we will look at their characteristics, pros & cons.
- Himalayan Pink Salt
- kosher salt
- Sea salt
- Table salt
How Salt is Made?
Salt is usually produced from salt deposits left on land after the withdrawal of seawater that has been covered and pushed off by land movement. In this production process, the salt is separated from the soil and the rest of the minerals by gradual dissolution, filtration, and refining until crystals remain almost entirely composed of chlorine sodium.
Sun-drenched and windy countries also produce salt by evaporation of seawater, which contains about 3 percent of salt in normal seawater or much more in saline lakes. If mining salt, shallow pools of seawater are steamed and the remaining sediment that contains crystalline salt in its solid form is collected. In other parts of the world, salt is also found in deep underground deposits, like in the salt mines of the Himalayas.
Different Kinds of Salt you should know
Since salt acts as a reinforcer for all flavors and aromas in the bread, a loaf that is salt-free may end up flat, bland and colorless.
The type of salt you use, which have different shape and texture, may affect both the final taste of the bread and its nutritional values. These are not major differences, and yet you should familiarize yourself with the following types of salts and their differences:
Himalayan Pink Salt
This rather popular salt comes from a mine not very far from the footsteps of the Himalayan mountains in Pakistan.
Himalayan salt contains tiny residues of minerals and oxides such as copper, zinc, calcium, potassium, chromium. The iron is responsible for its reddish color, similar to that of the iron oxide known as rust.
Although some of these minerals are important for body function, their contribution from the Himalayan salt is extremely marginal, as they are tiny.
A certain advantage of using Himalayan salt is that it may be a “cleaner salt”. It has been buried in the center of the earth for many years, and therefor remained isolated from contaminants that may affect other sources of salt – for example, micro-plastic particles and other waste products found in seawater these days.
Basically it was there before mankind was around to spread pollution in the seas so that’s something.
Plus the pink color is pretty and a nice touch too!
You can find Himalayan pink salt on Amazon here.
Himalayan Pink Salt is naturally mined and is therefore not as polluted as sea salt.
It doesn’t bring any extra value baking wise and can give a slight pink-ish color to your bread. Be warned. Your call.
You see it everywhere, on TV shows, chefs use and recommend it in many recipes as well it on your supermarket shelves. But what is it?
When producing Kosher salt the raw salt undergoes cleaning and otherwise a “koshering“ process that also includes looking through it to pick out any bugs that may have made their way in (which if they have then the salt will not be kosher).
Kosher salt is also ground into different thickness granules, unlike table salt that is only finely ground.
The reason for the large granules is that these make this salt easier to use when training meat and poultry -a process that includes salting in order to soak up any blood from meat or poultry because it is forbidden from consumption by the Jewish law- large granules are easier to spot and wash off so that makes the training process easier.
Nowadays, the overwhelming majority of meat sold in the market has already been trained. However, many people like to use salt for training – or “kosher salt” – for various cooking purposes and so it is still popular.
Coarse salt benefits for bread baking lie mainly in its slow dissolution.
Personally I like to use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt, there are no additives in it and it gets the work done every time. If you want the flakes to be more even or small you can always grind it in a pestle and mortar or in a spice or coffee grinder.
For kosher salt, you can click this link to amazon and check out the prices. Click here.
Kosher salt will slowly dissolute in your bread.
It usually contains far fewer additives and anti-caking agents.
Its not really bad just look out: the size of the flakes makes kosher salt it harder to meaure. When the recipe calls for one table spoon- be aware that kosher salt weighs far less then it lets so you need to make adjustment here.
Sea salt is produced by evaporation of oceans or salty lake water, usually with little processing. Depending on the body of water the salt comes from, it embodies other minerals and substances that add flavor and color to it. Sea salt also comes in a variety of coarseness levels.
Celtic sea salt or southern France sea salt is extracted from the water of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is easily recognized due to its light gray color with moist texture.
The upside of using sea salt is that it is usually non-iodized, where as iodized salt can give your bread an unpleasant flavor and we don’t want that.
The downside of using sea salt is that these days the seas are polluted and flooded with man-made waste. These wastes reach the sea salt in the form of small plastic particles, no larger than 5 mm, these are found in many types of salt sold in supermarkets all over the world.
That being said, if you choose to use sea salt my recommendation is Redmond ancient sea salt. It’s subtly sweet, unrefined, unprocessed has no additives and is mined in Utah, from an ancient seabed protected from modern pollution.
Sea salt is usually a non- iodized salt so there is non of that bitter after taste in your loaf.
Say it with me: pollution, pollution, pollution! It comes from the polluted sea, and usually contains small plastic particles in it, no larger than 5 mm, not very healthy overall.
Table salt is usually produced from underground mines. Table salt is heavily ground and is more processed. This process means it is usually stripped from most of its natural minerals.
It usually contains the additive calcium silicate to prevent crystallization and anti-caking agents.
In addition, most table salts, in a lot of countries worldwide add iodine to it to help keep the thyroid healthy.
Table salt is ground to a fine crystal. Due to this fine grinding it makes it easier to measure especially when using teaspoons or tablespoons.
Table salt is usually used for last-minute seasoning but when considered for bread baking I suggest staying away. That’s because iodized salt can leave an aftertaste of bitterness in your loaf and you don’t want that. If you have none iodized salt in your pantry, I say go for it.
A lot has been said about iodized salt. It is one of the most discussed subjects I know of when it comes to the key ingredients of bread.
Iodine is a natural chemical element, similar to oxygen, hydrogen, and iron that is found naturally in certain foods, enriched with other foods and also available as a dietary supplement. Iodine is a nutrient and is critical to proper health in all stages of life. It is essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, especially before and during pregnancy. As well as lactation and the proper development of the fetal and neonatal brain.
Experts say the best way to avoid iodine deficiency is to replace regular salt with iodized salt, without increasing the amount of salt consumed. In many countries of the world, the addition of iodine to table salt has been found to reduce the iodine deficiency in the public.
Still, it is worth saying that iodized salt can leave a bitter aftertaste in your bread. Some people may notice it more than others. I usually stay away from it for baking purposes.
Salt is an important and essential bread ingredient. However, since it is used in a minuscule amount I believe that you should choose the salt you prefer based on your pallet. I personally use Kosher salt when I bake bread, but you can really use whatever salt you have in your pantry, but keep in mind the different salts and their characteristics. Happy baking.