Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are Exotic Salts Worth It?

Harold McGee finds that, unless you have a very sensitive palate, they're probably not worth it in a flavor sense:
The Hyde Park team used kosher salt and several French sea salts to make different batches of five foods. They served the batches side by side not to a trained taste panel in a lab, but to staff members, students and visitors in several different settings, including a food conference and a restaurant during lunch service. These everyday tasters then rated their liking for each batch.

The tasters significantly preferred chicken broth and bratwurst made with an inexpensive white sea salt over the ones made with kosher salt. Batches of those two foods made with gray sea salt, or sel gris, and fleur de sel fell in between.

For fresh tomato juice, mashed potatoes and lima bean purée, the tasters had no clear favorites among the salts.
But if we're just talking about a sprinkle to finish a dish at the end, then obviously the different colors and textures can have an impact as a garnish.