Host a Salt Tasting
Posted September 3rd, 2009 by Lindsey
Filed under: Alderwood Smoke, Bolivian Rose, Cyprus Black Lava, Fumee de Sel, Hawaiian Black Lava, Himalayan Pink, Pure Foundation Salts, Tasting
Recently, I was asked how to host a salt tasting. In my opinion there are two different ways to stage such tasting- (1) Simply taste the salts, one after another, in their natural form, or (2) stage a multi-course meal with different salts utilized in each dish. This post covers the first type of tasting, and I will discuss the second type at a later date.
I hosted a salt tasting a few weeks ago, and I learned a few important lessons. First, you need a foil to balance out all the saltiness. Second, you can’t taste too many at one time or it burns your tongue (even our premium unrefined salts can be TOO much salt if eaten in excess in a single session).
Here are my tips for a delicious, successful salt tasting.
I prefer a fairly neutral palate for tasting the salt, such as white bread, like sourdough or challah. I offered both olive oil and unsalted butter. This is a great opportunity to try a local or artisanal butter.
Offer as many salt options as you desire, but suggest that guests taste no more than two or three at a time. Recommend a generous break in between every few salts.
To balance the salt, I recommend a smooth beverage. If you are interested in wine, try something that is not particularly dry, acidic or oaky. I think Riesling, particularly from Black Star Farms, is an excellent compliment to salt tasting. For a non-alcoholic beverage, try sparkling water. In addition, snacks like fresh fruit and vegetables (rather than cheese and crackers) will cleanse and refresh the palate for continued tasting.
The Pure Foundation Salts are excellent for tasting in this manner. The subtle differences in salinity and minerality can be appreciated while tasting with bread and butter. Offering a tasting allows you and your guests to study the diverse crystal structures and colors. I love trying salts with similar characteristics, such as color, and really studying their differences. Take, for example, Himalayan Pink and Bolivian Rose. Each is a pink, mountain salt. But they are so different. Compare the pink color and clarity. Let the crystals dissolve in your mouth and note the difference in minerality. Chew a few crystals and feel the difference between them on your teeth and your tongue.
One of my favorite comparisons is the smoked salts. Try to tease out the differences between Alderwood Smoke and Fumee de Sel. See if you can taste the subtle sweetness in Fumee de Sel, compared to the more robust Alderwood Smoke. Note how the size of the crystals affects the flavor.
Enjoy your tasting, share your comments and stay tuned for the next salt tasting installment.