I’m typically pretty cheap at the grocery store doing the bulk of my shopping at WinCo, I can’t stand buying something at Safeway knowing I can get it for half the price – and yes, I have most prices memorized like a geek. Whole Foods is a bit easier to take because there are so many different products and brands that I can’t even begin to compare, most of what I’m buying there you can’t find at WinCo. But that was a bit daunting when I first started buying ingredients for raw recipes, the insanely expensive groceries – like $10 for a small container of organic dried dates and twice the produce price to get organic.
The first raw class I went to, the Living Light trained instructor stressed the importance of only using Himalayan Pink Salt, specifically Himalania brand. When I went to Whole Foods and saw the $8 price for a 10 oz. jar compared to $1 for salt containers twice the size, I decided to hold off until I researched the salt further. The Wikipedia page states it’s rock salt from Pakistan that contains minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium,copper, and iron, that cheaper, refined salts do not. Gourmet Voyageurs has a much more romantic history to it stating the taste is like no other, I almost didn’t mind spending so much after reading it. Consumer reviews seem to agree with the improved taste part. But, not every health nut is buying it. “The ‘trace’ amount of other minerals are not in meaningful enough amounts to make any impact on health”, according to David Grotto. Yet, according to this report (PDF), it does.
What about taste, is it better? Time has an interesting article about various salt flavors and made me look forward to trying this and other more pricey salts. I found it tastes stronger, I needed less of it, and the grainier texture added a little crunch to squash we first tried it on. But, for the most part it tasted like salt, maybe more so than what I’m used to. Perhaps I don’t have the taste pallet or experience to truly enjoy all the varieties of gourmet salt. I have no doubt cheap table salt is lacking in the flavor department and wouldn’t be surprised if the refining process removed much of the good stuff while adding bad stuff. In it’s natural form, salt is not a fine, white, uniform powder of crystals and the process to get it there is brutal.
On my dinning table is a Costco-brand salt and pepper grinder set we purchased awhile ago, over 2 years. We use them a lot and the crystal salt grinder is just now nearing empty. If I can get that kind of life from this jar, $8 is pretty reasonable and cheaper than most fast food value meals I see co-workers eat daily. Now I just need one of those cool salt holders like Alton Brown has. For now, I will continue using it with a variety of recipes and hopefully pick up the flavor improvements. Maybe I need to try volcanic black salt from Molokai next.