All salt is created equal, or mostly equal. That is because salt in all forms—whether white, gray or pink, fine or flaky—is almost entirely sodium chloride. Some people claim they can taste a difference in vegetable cooking water when using, say, gray sea salt instead of iodized table salt. At Milk Street, we think it’s more valuable to focus on the shape and size of the crystal.
Simply put, the smaller the crystal, the more it weighs in a given volume, and therefore the more salt you are getting. For example, because of differences in crystal sizes, 1 teaspoon of table salt weighs as much as 2 teaspoons of coarser Diamond Crystal kosher salt. The largest crystals—and therefore the lightest—are Maldon sea salt flakes. Table salt, with its compact, sand-like crystals, is the smallest and heaviest.
At Milk Street, we don’t use table salt; it’s too difficult to pick up by hand. We also disagree with the conventional wisdom that table salt is best in baked goods. Our testing found little difference between it and coarser salts.
Our go-to choice is Diamond Crystal kosher salt. The crystals are easy to handle and attach well to the surfaces of meat, fish and vegetables.
Fine sea salt weighs just a tad less than table salt, so the volumes are almost equivalent. Add it to stews, sauces, soups, batters and doughs.
For a last-minute sprinkle, we prefer a large, flaky crystal, such as Maldon. Maldon makes for a more dramatic taste experience—an intense burst of salt with a crunch instead of simply a salty background.
Gray sea salt has a slightly enhanced ocean flavor but, in general, different-colored salts don’t deliver unique flavors when used in cooking. But flavored salts—smoked or truffled—do, if that is to your liking.