Why do we need to taste salt?
Doesn’t all salt taste the same?
In fact, different types of salt have subtly different flavours, and there are a number of factors that influence the taste of salt: the mineral content of the salt, its method of production, the size and shape of the crystals, and whether it has had any flavourings added to it.
The only way to truly gauge the unique flavours of different salts is to taste each of them individually, to compare them with other salts, and to try them with a range of different foods to experiment with how the flavours change.
How to taste salt
Before you begin tasting, make sure you have some unsalted crackers and some water with a little lemon squeezed in it to ‘cleanse’ your palate between tastes.
Tasting dry salt
The easiest method of tasting is to put some salt in the middle of your palm, pinch a little between your fingers and then taste it with the tip of your tongue. This will give you an idea of both the flavour and the texture. Cleanse your palate then move on. Each salt will have a different effect, and it may help to keep notes as you go, so you remember what you tasted.
Tasting salt in solution
The next method is tasting in a solution. By weight, measure out equivalent amounts of each salt. Measure by weight and not by volume because the different grain size and shape in the various salts result in different amounts of salt per unit of volume.
You won’t need much, so use the smallest measurement you can. Mix each kind of salt with enough hot water to make a 2–3% solution. Let the solutions cool and taste them. This will give an idea of the ‘pure’ salt taste, unaffected by the crystal size which governs the way the salt dissolves on the tongue.
Hosting a salt tasting
The final method, and no doubt the most enjoyable, is to prepare a range of different foods and to try them with a variety of different salts. A good selection would be:
- Hard-boiled egg
- Rare beef
- Cut each of the foods into small pieces and lay them out on plates.
- Put all of the salts you have into small dishes—make sure you know which one is which!
- Put a little of two different types of salt on the same type of food, and ompare the difference. You will be surprised with the result.
- Cleanse your palate with a piece of cracker and some water, then try two further salts on the same type of food. Remember to write down your thoughts.
- Then try the same type of salt on two different types of food.