Ceramic grindy bits. I approve.
I was just going to ask about the grindy bits, glad to hear they are ceramic.
Metal or ceramic are the best but are harder and harder to find. plastic bits are the most common these days, unfortunately they only last a year tops and you end up eating plastic…yum! Makes the wooden grinder practically disposable when the grindy bits are plastic.
Mama mia, that’s a pricey meat-a-ball!
Hey, if you didn’t win a Hugo Award, you can buy one of these for not much more than the cost of a supporting membership in the next Worldcon!
Just a note. Using any grinder like this for salt is a pretty bad idea. Freshly ground salt is indistinguishable from any other salt with the same grind. It can help avoid problems with humidity and caking. But the salt is gonna corrode out the metal shank and any metal fittings. I can tell you from experience it’s a great way to burn through grinders at an alarming pace.
I’ve always found it to be much saltier. Salt loses its saltiness when exposed to air, the larger pieces reduces air contact.
Not if they are a quality stainless right? I can see the cheap chrome plated steel corroding and rusting though.
I love freshly ground sea salt and being able to adjust the coarseness is crucial to various food applications.
I have rocket shaped valve stem covers on my road bike.
That makes me happy.
My see-through plastic salt grinder has metal blades and I use it grind pepper. When I first got it from a garage sale I saw salt jn it and thought, who the hell grinds salt?, and emptied the salt out and put pepper corns in instead.
I don’t add salt to foods anyway.
Are you telling me that salt… what? Oxidizes? Man those oceans must have started out so much saltier than they are now…
I was primary referring to the flavor. Various salts like waters have complex flavor profiles, something most people probably never notice.
I’m really not sure the chemical reaction or the cause of the flavor shift resulting in them tasting less salty (not containing less salt), but it is distinct in most sea and earth salts. when exposed to air (aka humidity) for any length of time. Larger blocks or crystals are less susceptible to flavor shifts and remain more stable, I assume to decreased surface exposure. I’ve never noticed it with pure salt, but pure salt is hard to find these days, it is all high end mineral and sea salts, or low end salts with anti caking agents and iodine added. So maybe it is a function of the other components? How our taste receptors detect saltiness? I don’t know, but if you use salts enough you’ve experienced this unless you are really good about storage.
Do you have any idea why the flavor shift occurs or what could make salt tastes less salty?
Is this a joke or serious? As far as the oceans, isn’t that a factor of the amount of frozen fresh water on the earth, and the amount of dissolved solids in runoff reaching the oceans, and the way the currents mix the water? I know certain areas of the ocean are super salinated and that it affects the life that can live there.
Salt resolutely does not lose its saltiness when exposed to air. Sodium cloride is not particularly reactive in air (water + other things is another story), and I couldn’t think of a mechanism that would leave it salt but make it less salty. We’re not talking about complex organic matter with volatile chemicals that can off gas. We’re talking about a pure molecular compound. Any reaction that would change its saltiness would be breaking it down or combining with it to render it some other substance entirely. More over any salt you’re going to encounter has been exposed to air, oxygen, water, etc for months if not years after processing. And likely for millions (or billions!) of years as it shifts around the earth. And remember all sea salts are produced by evaporating sea water. However you accomplish that they’re exposed to air extensively as a matter of course. And often for extended amounts of time. In fact the peculiar structures and textures of sea salts are down to the particular ways in which their crystals form and pile up in open air.
If your ground salt tastes saltier than the stuff in a box its because the grind is inconsistent. How salty a given salt tastes is entirely down to the size of the grains. There are two things happening. First smaller pieces dissolve more quickly on the tongue, meaning more of the salt contacts your taste buds before you swallow it. Second is the more important one. The smaller you grind salt the more salt there is in a given volume (less air/negative space). More salt = more salty taste. Pushing salt through a pepper grinder produces a varied grind, lots of little grains and powder amid all the larger pieces. Makes it taste saltier. This is flaw not a feature. It means you have less control over salt levels. Any shift in saltyness of ground salt you’re seeing is likely in your head
Yeah that’s what I thought too. Next thing I’m watching the expensive salt grinder I bought mom fall to pieces. Stainless steel isn’t perfectly corrosion resistant, constant contact with salt is one of the things that defeats it, just like with chromed anything. That’s why brass is to this day still preferred on any marine fittings that don’t need steel’s strength. More importantly all the metal bits in the grinder would have to totally stainless. All the screws, all the brackets and mounts. Mostly they aren’t. Salt also has a tendency to damage wood, and doesn’t seem too nice on plastic either. I had one of mom’s wooden grinders split in two after six months of use. Salt damages, rots, and corrodes things. Its sort of what it does, in the presence of water anyway. If there’s any water in the air at all its typically enough to get the corrosion going. An its all exaggerated in anyplace with a nice base humidity going on. We’re pretty humid, being really close to the coast. Like can’t get dry after a shower dripping. If you’re in the desert it might take years to see real damage. Here we’re talking months to a year tops.
No they don’t. Sodium chloride is sodium chloride. And it will always taste exactly the same. With very few exceptions the other trace elements that may be present occur at a levels that are nearly immeasurable or imperceptible to the human tongue. (And really when you get right down to it all salt is or was at one time sea salt. Rock salt just evaporated and got compressed millions of years ago.) The purpose of finishing salts, and the major differences between them is down to texture. Different grain sizes, flake structures and moisture contents cause the salt to dissolve at different rates and in different ways on the tongue. As mentioned they also effect the raw amount of salt in a given volume. Larger chunks feel crunchy, flakes are crispy, smaller pieces disappear entirely etc. The only exceptions that are plausible as far as I’m concerned: Lo-salt and salt substitute, have a non-trivial amount of potassium chloride added to them (50-100% by weight). So they taste like potassium chloride. They taste metallic and weird and I hate them. Black volcanic salts can have a non-trivial amount of volcanic ash or rock (usually basalt I think) coating or contained in the grains. It makes them taste sort of ashy, metallic, and generically minerally. But the effect is pretty subtle to non-existent in my experience. Red clay salts (like alaea) are coated in a pretty noticeable layer of red clay, so they taste like clay. They also have a cool sticky texture unless they’re totally dried out. Flavored salts like smoked salt, or lemon salt are likewise coated in a flavorful layer or otherwise combined with pretty large volumes of something flavorful. That’s about it. The idea that all these special salts have distinct, identifiable flavors that are as varied as wine. That they go bad. They you can cook with them to impart these flavors to food. And all that noise. Is marketing nonsense. Its largely been pushed by certain less than reliable food celebrities and large lifestyle brand style home goods retailers (think Williams Sonoma). Its got no basis in chemistry, no practical explanation for any of the effects claimed and really no application in the kitchen.
Specialty salts are for garnish. They can provide a visually arresting presentation, and a really really nice textural element. Its why they’re called “finishing salts”.
Sarcasm seems lost on you. The oceans are where all of our salt lives (or lived). Even that rock salt is really just sea salt that evaporated out of ancient oceans and then got compressed below the surface of the earth. The ocean tends to have this thing in it called “waves”. One of the many things “waves” do is aerate the ocean. Forcing gasses from the atmosphere to dissolve in the waters. Where it would do whatever magic you seem to think its doing to your salt on a mass scale, and probably faster. Because salt is a lot more reactive in water than it is in air.
It’s just that salts don’t really degrade, the ionic bonds are very strong, and the nature of how you taste it has to do with ions binding to taste receptors. If you look at the composition of something like sea salt- it’s still mostly sodium chloride by a wide margin. Salt is hygroscopic and there are sulfates in sea salt and theoretically they could absorb humidity from the air to form hydrates that waters down the mixture slightly, but realistically they’re already likely to be partially hydrated and it’s not really going to absorb the moles and moles of water to get watered down. If it were that easy, people would dehumidify their basements with it. There may be an argument that the crystal structure changes subtly and affects solubility, but if you’re already dealing with smaller crystals, I have real doubts that effect is significant, especially because a lot of food is already ■■■■■ when you add salt.
As with most things related to taste and food, it’s probably mostly in your head. If you’re really that sensitive to taste and subtle ionic interactions, then you probably have an incredibly high sense of bitterness in food, since those are also the receptors responsible for salt-tasting (it’s also why bitterness is best masked by salt, not sugar; sorry Mary Poppins.) Are you a supertaster? Maybe, maybe not, but hot dang if the subtleties here are probably not perceptible to them either.
Half joke, half serious. If ionic salts were that susceptible to exposure to air or moisture, then a lot of things would be very different.
ETA: When saying you taste salt through bitterness receptors… It’s slightly more complicated than that because salt is mostly detected through ion channels, but the more subtle flavors you can attribute to sea salt are likely not coming through those. Sodium iodide tastes metallic most likely due to bitterness receptors and less likely because of ion channels, which are receptive to the metal ions, but not the counter ions, in my understanding.
Sorry your mom’s salt grinder disintegrated so quickly, that is too bad. I’m glad my has held up perfectly for 12 years. I personally attribute that to the quality of material rather then luck. All the parts in my salt grinder are stainless and glass. The stainless isn’t even showing any pitting anywhere, which is the first sign that stainless is reacting.
You claim that salt is a pure chemical substance, which is true, but not the salt we eat. Himalayan salt has 84 other minerals, Celtic sea salt has 76. Both have very different mineral profiles. Both average around 84% sodium chloride. refined table salt is closer to 98% sodium chloride with the remainder being mostly the anti-caking agent sodium ferrocyanide and iodine.
I didn’t claim that salt oxidizes, in fact I specifically say I’m not sure why the flavor changes. I’d argue that it isn’t a result of the salt breaking down of changing chemically but more likely a factor of how the salt is crystallized with the other minerals or how it is interacting with the other minerals and substances in the salt. Also, taste is much more complex then raw chemistry, it is more about how things are combined and perceived then a straightforward chemical equation.
Take a can of Campbell’s soup, that sucker has a ton of salt in it. take the low salt version and add 1/4 the difference of the full salt version just before you eat it. it will taste much much more salty then the full salt version despite having less salt. any chef knows that salt added early on to a dish imparts a much lower “saltiness” then salt added towards the end. Some of that is that salt added at the end stays on the surface of certain food and hits the tongue better, but in soup adding salt at the end makes it taste saltier and the salt isn’t staying on the surface of the soup when mixed in, there is more to it then surface tongue exposure. Perceived saltiness isn’t a 1:1 with the amount of salt, far from it, this is common cooking knowledge. I get that you are arguing chemistry and against something that I’m not even claiming in the first place but i also think you aren’t considering the big picture or really comprehending the mechanisms of taste and huge number of factors that affect it.
Contrary to your claim I’ve never heard any salt marketing ever. not once. I’ve only discussed this with other chefs, read personal anecdotes in cookbooks, and experienced it myself directly. Again I don’t know the cause, nor am I claiming to, but most high end chefs discuss this, and they can almost all taste the differences.
I can absolutely taste different salts, I can almost always tell you to the ingredient every ingredient in a dish just from tasting it. That is one of the things that makes me such a good cook. I realize that only a small percentage of the population can taste this way to this degree, but to me the difference is huge and contrary to your allegation it isn’t in my head.
You claim to not be able to think of a mechanism that could make salt taste less salty, yet in the very next paragraph you contradict that by describing how the grind effects how salty salt tastes which is true. You then attribute that to volume and air space which is false. You can take two different grinds and measure by weight and they will absolutely taste different in the same quantity. They dissolve differently on the tongue at different rates for starters. Same goes for sugars.
I know that rock salt came from evaporated seabeds a long time ago, but different rock salt deposits have very different mineral profiles, colors, tastes, and crystal size and structure. Again I think you are oversimplifying for the sake of arguing without recognizing the actual differences.
The taste differences are HUGE in my experience, they impart a very strong taste to dishes. but that is the magic of taste, not everyone can taste to the same level of sensitivity. I’m guessing you aren’t a super taster and that to you salt is salt and it is all the same…
must resist…must resist…
I am that sensitive to taste, and think that likely whatever change is affected is altering how the taste receptors perceive the taste, how the salt interacts with the receptor. I don’t think the salt is reacting into another substance, what you are saying makes perfect sense on the chemistry side. I appreciate your reply.
I also know that this is a commonly perceived phenomenon in natural salts and not so much in refined salts, AND that this is from a taste/chefs perspective not a chemistry perspective. (although i did quite well in organic chem 1 & 2 in university and can follow your reasoning.) I’ve experienced the taste change first hand several times, at times i wasn’t expecting to. I’d add that it is the sharp part of the taste profile that changes (what is referred to as “the bite”), but that is probably subjective and not at all helpful.
I’m not claiming to know the answer, in fact I’d really like to know. Google just keeps throwing bible verses about salt losing saltiness (as in salty flavor) which make me frustrated and stop looking through results. uggghhh
I just checked that out… funny.
I’m not saying there isn’t some hitherto unaccounted for mechanism by which salt tastes less salty. But I know two things 1.) There’s a ton of folklore in cooking and people are very susceptible to suggestion and bias when it comes to subjective things like taste. 2.) The chemistry described above.
That being said, I’m fascinated by gustatory transduction, and I’ve been doing a lot of research into sweetness on my own time. It started as a response to various claims that artificial sweeteners are basically poison. This is the first time I’ve had to consider saltiness, but I admit that I’m back-of-the-napkining it. I don’t know that our perception of taste isn’t sufficient;y powerful to pick up subtle solubility differences. I know that Lays (or some other chip company) found a crystal geometry that tastes twice as salty as regular salt, but that was engineered that way.
wow, that is cool, I had no idea. that would at least indicate to the that there is a possibility that the same amount of salt can be perceived as more or less salty. It isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
I agree fully. I know this is true. If I only experience this at times I was expecting to I’d be more inclined to say, ah just the ol brain playing tricks on me again. I won’t rule that out as a possibility, but from my first hand experience I’d be inclined to say it is a real thing. I’ve been taking a homeopathic that is supposed to help with susceptibility to suggestion!!! heee heee
You’ve probably read all about miracle fruit then (synsepalum dulcificum) that after being eaten change the tastes and temporarily make most foods taste sweet. they are pretty cool. i’ve tried them a few times, it is weird.
Luo Han Guo or Monk’s Fruit is another interesting plant worth reading about and trying.
I can’t stand most artificial sweeteners and many natural ones. They are like an a-bomb on the tongue for anyone with a good sense of taste. i can’t get the flavor out of my mouth for a long time. bleck.
Yes! Weirdly, I’ve not really had the inclination to try it. Irony is that I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I mostly stumbled on sweetness because of people believing weird things, like Sweet & Low kills ants.
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