CRAFT SALT FIELD GUIDE - Bitterman's Craft Salt Cooking: The Single Ingredient That Transforms All Your Favorite Foods and Recipes - Mark Bitterman

Bitterman's Craft Salt Cooking: The Single Ingredient That Transforms All Your Favorite Foods and Recipes - Mark Bitterman (2016)


Salt is not just a seasoning; it’s a tool for elevating your ingredients. Just as you need more than one kind of knife (paring and chef’s knife) or pan (frying and saucepan), you need more than one kind of salt. There are seven basic kinds of salt: fleur de sel, sel gris, flake, traditional, shio, rock, and smoked/infused, plus special salts used exclusively for curing. The field guide that follows includes some of the more common and most useful salts available today. The more conversant you become with them, the more tools at your disposal for making the most of your food. The chart lists the salt families in order of importance. At a minimum, every kitchen needs these three: fleur de sel, sel gris, and flake salt.

Refer to the linked page numbers.




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Bitterman’s Fleur de Sel

Guatemalan Fleur de Sel

A cross between a jungle, a farm, and a marine sanctuary, the salt farm provides vital ecological protection and economic opportunity in addition to supporting the education of underserved children in the community. Pacific seawater filters through a stunning mangrove forest, where it is evaporated under the hot harvest sun. The crystals are moist and gently crunchy, with a fresh but full-bodied mineral flavor. Pages 55, 74, 105, 129

Black Lava Salt

Bitterman’s Black Lava

Guatemala’s lush yet rugged volcanic landscape is mirrored in these panther-black crystals. Warm, mineral-rich fleur de sel crystals are carefully combined with detoxifying activated charcoal to create a visually stunning, mild but full-flavored salt. Pages 27, 33, 35, 59, 85, 88, 90, 105, 123, 135, 150

El Salvador Fleur de Sel

Mayan Sun

A classic French fleur de sel look and feel, but with a Central American twist. It has an incandescent warm white color; fine crystals with low moisture; and a friendly, silken salinity. Page 74

Fiore di Cervia

See also Dolce di Cervia. This fine-grained, brittle, translucent fleur de sel sparkles with the characteristic mineral sweetness of northern Adriatic salts. Pages 113, 129

Fiore di Galia

Trapani makes precious little fleur de sel. At Galia fleur de sel can be skimmed from across entire ponds thanks to the will, skill, and craft of the farmers. The result is a uniquely delicate, uniquely pristine fleur de sel with a mellow, mineral, almost fruity flavor. Pages 88, 113

Fiore di Trapani

Harvested from the northwest coast of Sicily, this salt comes from a single-estate salt farm in the city of Trapani. This area is a protected historic site from which salt has been harvested since the Phoenician era. Fleur de sel crystals are normally moist and crunchy, but these are coarser and more fiery tasting. Pages 25, 88, 113

Fleur de Sel de Camargue

On still mornings, sauniers, practiced salt farmers at Aigues-Mortes in the south of France rake fleur de sel crystals from the still surface of the salt pans before the wind disturbs the surface of the water. This is unusual because the vast majority of salt is made on an industrial scale, with heavy machinery. This hand-harvested salt is drier, finer, and more glitteringly transparent than many other fleurs de sel. Page 74

Fleur de Sel de l’Île de Noirmoutier

Fleur de Sel de Noirmoutier

From France’s rugged Atlantic coast, this salt is known for its minute, highly irregular grains. It has a clean briny flavor like the ocean itself. It is among the finest of the French salts, with just enough moisture to lend gentle resiliency to every one of its myriad petite crystals. Pages 74, 88

Fleur de Sel de l’Île de Ré

Bicyclists and gourmands alike visit these salt fields in northwestern France. Oysters are grown in abundance, the wine is excellent, and the brandy is better (Cognac is nearby), but fleur de sel is the region’s crown jewel. Impeccably fine crystals with a complex mineral flavor make it one of the world’s best. Page 33

Fleur de Sel Guérande

The Celts first made salt here thousands of years ago. The flavor is slightly more mineral forward than the salts from neighboring Île de Ré and far wetter and slightly coarser than those of Camargue, from the south of France. See also Sel Gris de Guérande. Page 85

Flor de Sal de Manzanillo

Flor Blanca de Manzanillo

Evaporated under the blazing sun of western Mexico in salt farms up and down the coast of Manzanillo, only traditional methods are used here to harvest a spectacularly delicate, balanced, yet somehow vibrant fleur de sel. Pages 73, 88, 143

Flor de Sal do Algarve

Portuguese Flor de Sal

Due to the North African heat of Portugal’s Algarve coast, fleur de sel crystals here form into a solid crust on the surface of the salt pans before they can sink. This crust is then raked off, yielding crystals that are large, almost fluffy, and distinctly fiery tasting. Pages 74, 105

Flos Salis

Made in the natural estuaries of the Atlantic coastline within the Ria Formosa and Castro Marim nature reserves of Portugal, crystals are allowed to grow for only a few hours before they are gathered. They are among the world’s finest. This salt has a minute, fractured, scintillating, impeccable mineral balance. Pages 33, 74

Ilocano Asin

Pangasinan Star

The sea salt season in the Pangasinan region of the Philippines lasts six months, from the end of December to the end of May, when the rainy season resumes. Seawater is evaporated throughout the intensely hot day and then raked into baskets in the afternoon sun, yielding crystals that are an exaggerated version of fleur de sel. Lush, almost billowy, they goad the senses to explore beyond the safe boundaries, to use them boldly. Pages 85, 129

Piran Fleur de Sel

Piranske Soline Fior di Sale

This is the legendary Slovenian sea salt first documented in the 13th century, reaching its heyday as a centerpiece of the Venetian salt trade in the fifteenth to eighteenth centuries. It is the most blissful of fleurs de sel—a festive glitter of the finest confetti, with a unique, shimmering sweet flavor. Page 33

Sal Rosada de Maras

Peruvian Pink, Peruvian Warm Spring

Ten thousand feet up in the Peruvian Andes, a warm saline spring feeds an unlikely system of step-terraced salt ponds. Salt has been made here for two thousand years. The crystals glow a stunning pale flamingo pink color, and every gentle crunch delivers a rich, faintly sweet salinity. Page 129

Sugpo Asin

Sugpo Asin, which translates to tiger prawn salt, shines a pale pink color from the pink carotenoids produced by the shrimp that live in ponds that feed the salt works. Its crystals are large for a fleur de sel. The flavor is bright, rich, and agreeably aggressive. Pages 35, 105, 129




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Piran Sel Gris

See also Piran Fleur de Sel. This salt takes a certain degree of spirituality and imagination to fully appreciate. The flavor is sweet and mild, yet the crystals are solid, almost hard—the shape and color of raindrops on a mirror. Pages 25, 32, 35, 53, 102, 113, 115, 136

Sal de Ibiza Granito

Granito de Ibiza

Granito (“small grain” in Spanish) is made exclusively using solar evaporation. These coarse, spangly, hard translucent crystals deliver a big wallop of fresh, slightly hot, faintly briny flavor. Pages 25, 53, 102

Sel Gris de Guérande

Celtic Salt, Gray Salt, Gros Sel, Bay Salt

At high tides, seawater from the swift Atlantic currents south of Brittany is collected, allowed to settle, and then channeled into the shallow salt fields dug in the porcelain clay. After the combined effect of sun and wind evaporates the seawater to a dense brine, it crystallizes to form crystal hunks with bold oceanic flavor. Trace amounts of silicates from the porcelain clay give the salt its characteristic color. Pages 25, 27, 32, 53, 55, 131, 136

Sel Gris de l’Île de Ré

Gray Salt, Gros Sel, Bay Salt

The west coast of France boasts one of the longest-lived salt-making traditions on earth. Paler than its cousins in Guérande and Île de Noirmoutier, the crystals are also milder, though still clearly expressive of the North Atlantic’s briny soul. The salt has the same unctuous crunch as its brethren. Pages 25, 27, 32, 53, 88, 131, 136

Sel Gris de Noirmoutier

Bitterman’s Sel Gris, Gray Salt, Gros Sel, Bay Salt

See also Fleur de Sel de l’Île de Noirmoutier. Cold, saline North Atlantic seawater is collected at high tide and allowed to settle in a silt pond before continuing its course to the shallow salt fields dug in the native clay. The sun and wind evaporates the seawater to a dense brine before it is flowed into salt pans to crystallize. This coarse, moist salt has the vibrant mineral flavor of a cold rainy day at sea and a surprisingly satisfying crunch. Pages 25, 27, 32, 55, 85, 131, 136




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Achill Island Sea Salt

Achill Island Flake

The O’Malley family is reviving an industry that existed up until the 1820s on Keel Bay, Achill Island, in Ireland. Seawater is boiled over a gas fire in high-grade, stainless steel, open pan vessels, then the salt is dried in dehydrators. Pillow-fluffy flakes alternate between yielding and popping for a syncopated salinity bursting with briny effervescence. This salt is exceptionally high in minerals, and it shows, nicely. Pages 75, 95, 118, 145

Alaska Pure Sea Salt

Alaska Pure Flake

Jim and Darcy Michener make this salt in their back yard in Sitka, Alaska, from icy north Pacific seawater. Their first batches, back in 2007, were studies in the seasonal changes in ocean ecology, with spring, summer, winter, and fall, each tasting wildly different. Perfecting their process, the salt is now consistent in all the right ways: impossibly fragile crystals with impeccably balanced flavor. These are the first folks in North America to make a flake-style sea salt, and every crystal is proof of their mastery of the craft. Pages 40, 118, 145

Bitterman’s Flake

Marlborough Flaky Sea Salt

This is a uniquely frothy, three-dimensional crystal unlike any other finishing salt on earth. It is harvested from the clear waters of the great southern oceans. Currents sweep up the east coast of New Zealand and into the solar salt field located right at the top of the South Island. These waters are evaporated using the natural processes of the sun and wind. This salt acquires its impossibly complex and light anhedral crystal structure by being very slowly evaporated in an open pan, allowing the formation of very light sea salt flakes. Pages 95, 96, 148

Black Diamond Flake Salt

Cyprus Black Lava Salt

See also Cyprus Silver Flake Sea Salt. Massive pyramidal crystals are darkened with detoxifying activated charcoal for big bold crunch from a dramatic black crystal. The flavor is very faintly tannic, which tames astringent foods like asparagus. Pages 27, 59, 90, 95, 105, 123, 150

Bulls Bay Carolina Flake

See also Bulls Bay Charleston Sea Salt. This flake variety boasts dry, medium-size bright white crystals with a big, bold flavor.
Page 118

Cornish Flake Sea Salt

Cornish Flake

From Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, England, seawater is filtered, concentrated into a saturated brine, then poured into vats, where it is gently heated until salt crystals gradually start to form on the surface. As the crystals grow, they sink to the bottom, where they are collected by hand. Flat, crispy crystals combine with jumbled wads and bits, creating faint savory seaweed flavors shining through assertive salinity. Pages 75, 99, 135, 145

Cyprus Silver Flake Sea Salt

Cyprus Flake, Falksalt

Hand-harvested by family-owned salt farms on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, this solar-evaporated sea salt boasts distinctively enormous pyramidal crystals. Their structure is so sturdy that they don’t crunch but explode, yielding a sharply pungent flavor. Pages 75, 99, 118, 145

Hakanai Flake

This Japanese sea salt is made by pre-evaporating seawater in greenhouses using traditional methods. The concentrated brine is then simmered at just the right temperature to create beautiful flakes of Hana Flake Salt (see below), but then, right before that happens, these ephemeral crystals form. Impossibly delicate crystals, more a glimpse of a flake than a true flake, impart superb mineral flavor. Pages 95, 96

Halen Môn Silver Flake Sea Salt

Halen Môn Pure White Sea Salt

Water from the frigid ocean currents of the Welsh coast is collected and simmered until complex, gemstonelike structures grow. And they keep growing, in layers, one upon another, until a stratified geometry forms, a filo dough crust of crunchy mineral brilliance. Pages 40, 75, 99, 118, 145

Hana Flake Salt

Hana No Shio

A miracle of Japanese salt-making craft, these icy white, semitranslucent crystals glimmer like moonlight in sunshine, and like sunshine in moonlight. The medium-size compressed pyramid-shaped crystals are unusual in how perfectly they hold together—until they are bitten. Then they pop and fragment and vanish as if they were never more than an illusion. The flavor is refined, silvery bitter sweetness. Pages 40, 75, 95, 99, 118, 135, 145

Havsnø Flaksalt


Michael and Arves Øverland use only renewable energy in their sea salt production and in their facilities and adhere to sustainable production practices. The process begins by first freezing the seawater to naturally concentrate the brine—an ancient method that was used in Norway in the 16th century. The crystals are a profusion of tiny, immaculate flakes with a texture and flavor as light as sea spray. Pages 40, 95, 96

Icelandic Flake Salt

From a small bay in the peninsula of Reykjanes, this is perhaps the world’s only salt produced using only geothermal power. Seawater is evaporated using the heat from natural geysers, and all electricity used at the facility comes from a nearby geothermal power plant. The crystals are a fresh and clean-tasting tumult of nuggets and grains stacked into pinnacles and spires, an explosive landmass formed from the living sea and the Earth’s ancient energy. Pages 40, 59

Icelandic Lava Salt

This salt is produced in a small bay in the peninsula of Reykjanes (an aspiring geopark applying for membership in the European Geopark Network). The salt is infused with activated charcoal. Rich dark color, crispy sparkly texture, and clear fresh flavor are its calling cards. Pages 27, 35, 85, 90, 105, 123, 135, 150

Jacobsen Flake

Seawater from Netarts Bay on the Oregon coast is boiled down over propane fire to make a concentrated brine that is then crystallized in open pans. Medium-size, diaphanous flakes pop to produce intense salinity. Page 75

Maldon Sea Salt

Naturally concentrated brine from England’s Blackwater River estuary is evaporated in stainless steel salt pans mounted on an intricate system of brick flues fired by natural gas. This proprietary heating pattern gives birth to large yet parchment-fine pyramids and flakes that have become the salt maker’s trademark. Their dazzling geometry snaps instantly into flickers and flashes of clean salinity. Salt has been produced in the area for millennia, and the saltworks stands on what is believed to be the site of a medieval saltworks. Pages 75, 99, 118, 135, 145

Murray River Salt

Murray Darling

This Australian salt gains its pale pink color from carotenoids produced by algae that live in the underground brine from which it is made. The color is matched with a cotton candy texture and a sweet note that imparts a sense of ineffable lightness. Page 95




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Amagansett Sea Salt

Steven and Natalie Judelson pull seawater from the Atlantic Ocean off Amagansett, at the far eastern edge of Long Island, New York. Sun, wind, patience, and a strong back form the base of their recipe. Coarse, clunky crystals deliver the unbridled flavor of an angry Atlantic squall. Page 27

Antarctic Sea Salt

This salt is produced where the Antarctic Circumpolar Current brushes against South Africa. Clouded quartz color and minimal moisture pack big flavor into every massive coarse grain. Page 53

Bitterman’s Fine Traditional Sea Salt

Fine Guatemalan Sea Salt

See also Bitterman’s Fleur de Sel. This Guatemalan sea salt is ground to superfine, moderately dry crystals that distribute easily and dissolve instantly. The flavor is mild; with such mineral fullness it comes off as faintly buttery. Page 70

Bora Bora Sea Salt

Fabienne Bratschi captures the pristine seawater coursing past the small, impossibly remote island of Bora Bora in the South Pacific. The solar-evaporated and dried crystals are coarse, crumbly scree of flecks and ingots, but beautifully glistening, with a graceful, refined flavor. Page 64

Brazilian Sal Grosso

Brazilian Coarse

Harvested from the South Atlantic coast of Brazil, this coarse, translucent white traditional sea salt is made by the slow solar evaporation of seawater. Its rock-hard, wonky, melted meteorlike crystals are fresh tasting with a touch of hotness. Pages 29, 102

Bulls Bay Charleston Sea Salt

Rustin and Teresa Gooden began making salt on their South Carolina homestead in 2011. Drawing water at high tide from Bull’s Bay, seawater is pumped into greenhouse evaporating pans, crystalized using solar and wind evaporation, then harvested by hand. The coarse, rubblelike crystals pack a hot, hard wallop. Page 64

Cuor di Trapani Sea Salt

Cuor di Sal di Trapani

See also Fiore di Galia. Coarse traditional sea salt from Galia is ground to fine crystals. Exceptionally rich in minerals, this salt dissolves instantly in a burst of rich, full flavor. Pages 56, 79, 86

Dolce di Cervia

Sale di Cervia

Il sale dolce, which translates as “sweet salt,” is made in the lone remaining salt farm of the once great salt-making region of Cervia, just south of Ravenna, Italy. Solar-evaporated traditional sea salt is ground to a jumble of crystals and shards of all sizes, each with a faint harshness on the tongue that’s accompanied by mild, mineral-sweet undertones. Pages 23, 27, 32, 53, 88, 102, 113, 115, 119, 136

Eggemoggin Reach Salt

Reach Salt

Born of a desire to return to Maine’s rustic heritage, this salt is made by hauling buckets of seawater at the height of the coast’s 11-foot tidal surge. The water is boiled down over a gas flame, then transferred to “baking trays” where low heat and constant stirring create a jumble of moist crystals with fierce flavor as wild as the coast itself. Page 78

Gulf Coast White Sea Salt

In Panama City, Florida, a strategic salt outpost during the Civil War, saltwater is first boiled down by 50 percent and then transferred to shallow pans to continue the evaporation process until all that remains are crumbly, puffy, soft chunks and rubble. The flavor is a strange, enticing combination of warm and savory. Page 129

Haleakala Ruby Sea Salt

Soul of the Sea Haleakala Red Sea Salt

Papohaku Opal (see further down list) is combined with sacred alaea volcanic clay to create a traditional Hawaiian salt with a deep, meaty red color. Hefty, invitingly supple crystals offer rich, refined flavor with an extraordinarily smooth, balanced finish—buttery and lush, outgoing and friendly. Pages 35, 85, 88, 123

J.Q. Dickinson

J.Q. Dickinson Heirloom Salt

Nancy Bruns and her brother, Lewis Payne, established their saltworks on the site of the family salt farm dating back to 1817. Where salt used to be made by pumping brine up from deep underground and boiling it off over fires, today it is put into sun houses where it evaporates and crystallizes. Firm, dry crystals deliver full, balanced saltiness with every satisfying crunch. Pages 48, 95, 115, 136, 147

Kilauea Onyx Sea Salt

Soul of the Sea Kilauea Black

In Kaunakakai, on the tiny island of Molokai, seawater is solar-evaporated to create an exceptionally mineral-rich salt (about 16 percent trace minerals) that is then combined with activated charcoal for color and to add detoxifying benefits. The thick, easily crunched crystals have a deep black color, a moist and silky texture, and a rich, almost buttery flavor. Pages 27, 35, 59, 85, 90, 105

Kona Deep Sea Salt

Kona Sea Salt

On the island of Hawaii, seawater from 2,200 feet below the surface slowly evaporates in a greenhouse to form crystals. The bluish and moist jumble of erratic nuggets and slivers crunch easily to reveal an exhilarating, mild, sweet flavor. Pages 25, 136

Maine Sea Salt

Maine Coast Sea Salt

Pioneers in the resurgent craft salt movement, Sharon and Steve Cook make this iconic salt by evaporating North Atlantic seawater in greenhouses. Its bold, intense, briny flavor and coarse, jagged crystals fill the mouth and the mind. Pages 53, 64, 78, 136

Molokai Red Sea Salt

Palm Island Premium Red Gold

Seawater sourced from the ultrapure waters around Molokai are solar-evaporated and combined with red alaea volcanic clay to achieve a mineral-rich sea salt with the clear, refreshing flavor of deep Pacific waters. The salt is used in Hawaii for both seasoning and preserving foods. Hawaiians believe that the baked alaea clay, which is composed of over 80 minerals, provides a variety of benefits including detoxifying and healing powers. It comes in both coarse and fine grinds. Pages 35, 85, 123, 148

Muoi Bien

Traditional Vietnamese Sea Salt

This Vietnamese salt has terrifying, gargantuan, irregularly shaped pale cloud-gray crystals. Grown naturally using only solar evaporation, it is hand-harvested and often ground down to size before use with a mortar and pestle (often in the company of chiles, herbs, and spices). In its raw state, however, every daring crunch imparts a terrific explosion of salinity. Page 74

North Fork Sea Salt

Seawater off the coast of Long Island is collected by hand and evaporated over flame in open pans, carefully monitoring water temperature while salt crystals are in the blooming stage. The crystals are then scooped into a tray to be dried in the open air. The crystals crunch plushly, tossing out flavors that are at once sweet, harsh, briny, and slightly bitter—in an agreeable way. Pages 78, 136

Oryx Desert Salt

This salt is harvested in the Kalahari Desert. Saltwater is pumped from an underground salt lake sustained by underground rivers flowing over sedentary Dwyka rock strata dating from 250 to 300 million years ago. Huge, hard, pebbly, semiopaque crystals deliver vivid but restrained salinity. Page 136

Outer Banks Sea Salt

John and Amy Gaw were inspired by centuries-old traditions of salt making on the Outer Banks. North Atlantic seawater is collected in buckets and evaporated in large pots over fire to yield jumbled crystals that are then dried in an oven. The crystals remain moist and deliver vehement, in-your-face pungency. Page 78

Popohaku Opal Sea Salt

Soul of the Sea Papohaku White

In Kaunakakai, on the tiny island of Molokai, waters as pristine as any on the planet are solar-evaporated in mini greenhouses until crystals form. Packed with trace minerals (upwards of 16 percent), its rich, buttery flavor is peerless, complemented by a sumptuous opalescent white color, gregariously coarse crystals, and a pliant crunch that dissolves to a silky mouthfeel. Pages 79, 115, 136

Pure Sea Salt Co. Solar Sea Salt

Newfoundland Sea Salt

Bucking tradition, this salt is evaporated from seawater off the Newfoundland coast using only solar energy, rather than the wood fires used in the past. The crystals are a miniature rock slide of slivers and crags, with round flavor backed by a faintly tannic pungency. Page 48

Saltwest Naturals Sea Salt

The waters of the Pacific Northwest are among the world’s lowest in ocean salinity. This salt is made by employing a reverse osmosis desalinization process, pumping water at high pressure through a set of semipermeable membranes to separate fresh water from seawater, creating potable water and concentrated brine that is evaporated over a fire. The crystals are superfine splinters and flecks with plenty of magnesium-rich moisture and a balanced mild but sparkly flavor. Pages 61, 101

San Juan Island Sea Salt

Brady Ryan offers one of the few examples of responsible salt making on the West Coast, evaporating filtered seawater in greenhouses, where the air reaches 135°F. The process takes between three to six weeks and captures abundant magnesium and potassium salts. The salt is dried using electric heaters, then ground to a medium-coarse jumble of splinters, spires, and nuggets with savage briny flavor that contrasts with its sunny, loving origins. Pages 55, 61, 70, 123

Sel Marin de Noirmoutier

Coarse, moist Sel Gris de Noirmoutier is ground up into superfine, silken, blue-grey crystals, making it easier to distribute evenly over food and quicker to dissolve. Grinding does nothing to mute the full, rich flavor of the original salt. Pages 79, 86, 101

Trapani e Marsala Sea Salt

Harvested in Sicily’s sweltering summer heat, the “saline” (salt farms) of this region still follow salt-making traditions begun in Phoenician times. The salt, ground up into innocuous, cloud-white crystals, tastes hard and immovable, flat and impenetrable as the August sky. Pages 48, 56, 86, 113

Vancouver Island Sea Salt

Andrew Shepherd makes this salt by boiling seawater to a concentrated brine and then turning the heat way down (sometimes off) to allow the salt to separate from the water on its own. The superfine crystals have a pitched, full flavor. Pages 55, 70, 101

Wellfleet Sea Salt

In 1837 there were 658 saltworks on Cape Cod, producing 26,000 tons a year. A combination of railroads and ships delivering salt from less expensive locales, the advent of refrigeration, and other factors wiped it all out. Hope Schwartz-Leeper and Zachary Fagiano founded Wellfleet to revitalize the tradition of salt making in the area, pumping seawater into a large greenhouse about 300 gallons at a time. The crystals are a rubble of gravel and splinters and specks, contrasted with a distinctly sweet minerally flavor. Pages 64, 136

Yellowstone Natural Salt

Saline spring water in the Bridger-Teton National Forest is sealed in greenhouses and warmed gently by a geothermal hot spring. This unusual, carbon-free process yields firm, translucent crystals with clear, freshly sweet flavor followed by a tangy umami note. These are simple crystals packed with complex flavor. Pages 32, 64, 86, 101, 115




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Aguni No Shio

Aguni Koshin Odo

On the remote Japanese island of Okinawa, hundreds of miles away from the big islands to the north, fresh seawater is filtered through bamboo branches, slowly evaporating it. The crystals made according to this ancient tradition are remarkably similar to a classic French fleur de sel, but with a hint of lovely bitterness peaking out behind a veil of fresh, clean flavor. Page 85

Amabito No Moshio

Moshio is the earliest known sea salt produced by the Japanese, dating back nearly 2,500 years. (Its name translates literally as “ancient sea salt.”) It is made by evaporating brine with seaweed on the tiny island of Kami-Kamagari. A distinctively umami flavor lurks in its superfine café au lait-colored crystals. Pages 28, 55

Full Moon Shio

Made only in small batches, this Japanese salt follows the somewhat mystical tradition of harvesting seawater only during the evening of a full moon. This practice is said to maximize the mineral content and improve the flavor of the salt. Pages 56, 70, 79

Jigen No Moshio

Harvested in very small batches from the protected waters of a national park in Japan, this salt is slowly evaporated for eight days in a fire kiln to ensure a high mineral content. Fine, milk-white crystals surge with fierce yet balanced salinity. Pages 70, 79

Shinkai Deep Sea Salt

Suzu Shio

Shoji Koyachi brought back centuries-old salt-making traditions to Japan’s Noto Peninsula, reanimating a craft that otherwise would be lost to time. Seawater from two thousand feet beneath the surface of the ocean is sprayed over bamboo mats suspended from the ceiling of a greenhouse. A week later, the resulting concentrated brine is boiled over a wood fire and then simmered until a mound of salt slowly emerges from the steaming cauldron. The resulting salt is 16 percent trace elements and moisture. Microfine fronds and flakes the color of glacial-core ice shimmer with an ecstatic bitter sweetness. Pages 55, 70, 79, 123, 124

Takesumi Bamboo Sea Salt

Icarus-like, this salt is hatched from bamboo segments that have been packed with Japanese deep sea salt and incinerated. The result is not so much a salt as a carbonated topping that, upon contact with the mouth, instantly dissolves into the sweetness of fizzled Pop Rocks. Pages 33, 146

Tsushima No Moshio

Although Japan is surrounded by seawater, the country’s humid, rainy climate has never been well-suited for large-scale production of dry salt. It takes 10 tons of seaweed-infused water to make just 200 kilograms of the powder-fine, tawny-colored, savory salt. Pages 28, 54, 56, 70, 123, 124




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Himalayan Pink Salt

Pink Himalayan, Pink Rock Salt

This rock salt is mined by hand from the purest seams of 500-million-year-old salt deposits deep under the rugged Punjabi landscape. (Contrary to popular belief, the mines are a good 200 miles south of the Himalayas.) The salt is pure and unadulterated, ranging from 97 to 99 percent sodium chloride, depending on which particular part of the deposit you test. The salt is mined in large boulders and then ground down to the desired coarseness. Hard pink crystals deliver assertive, almost spicy pungency. Pages 29, 56, 65, 87, 101, 102

Kala Namak

Black Salt, Sanchal, Bit Lobon, Kala Noon, Bire Noon

Widely used in Ayurvedic medicine for over two thousand years, this salt is made by heating rock salt to more than 140°F in clay pots and mixing it with Indian spices, including the seed of the black myrobalan tree called harad (part of triphala, an Ayurvedic herbal elixir). Kala Namak is used in the treatment of everything from weight loss to hysteria to good dental hygiene. As a rock, its color is deep purplish black; ground, it becomes pinkish brown; on your food, it takes on the hue of oxblood. It has the taste of savory-eggy sulfur dug from the belly of a slumbering volcano. Pages 48, 83, 104, 140

Persian Blue Salt

Prussian Blue Salt

From an ancient mine in Iran emerges one of the strangest feats of geological ingenuity: a pure, natural salt that’s shot through with flecks and fields of dazzling peacock blue color. The pyrotechnic mystery of the color’s origin (Is it trace amounts of metallic sodium? Is it an optical illusion created by irregularities in the crystal lattice? Is it neither? Both?) contrasts with the jovial elegance of its sweet, mild flavor. Pages 29, 56, 101, 102, 137

Redmond Real Salt

Red Rock Salt

An ancient sea once covered what is now much of North America, then retreated, and, eventually, evaporated, leaving the salt in undisturbed deposits in central Utah. Silts and volcanic ash sealed the salt, forming deposits that were eventually discovered by Native American Indians and finally were opened up to large-scale mining in the 1800s. The rock salt crystals are a speckle-work of translucencies, reds, and pinks. The flavor is big, brash, and as rugged as the West. Pages 29, 101, 102




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Alaska Pure Alder Smoked Sea Salt

Alaska Alder Smoked

See also Alaska Pure Sea Salt. The Micheners cold-smoke their Alaska Pure Sea Salt flake salt with alderwood from their native Alaska. The crystals dissolve or crunch to release voluptuous, rich smoke that hovers somewhere in the olfactory hinterland between bacon and Fourth of July at the beach. Pages 38, 147

Bulls Bay Bourbon Barrel Smoked Flake

See also Bulls Bay Charleston Sea Salt. This smoked version gives off generous aromas of brown sugar, baking spices, and mild vanilla. Pages 27, 147

Danish Viking Smoked Salt

Danish Smoked Salt

Seawater from the Danish coast is boiled over fire until jumbled salt crystals form. These are then smoked with a variety of hardwoods, including cherry, beech, and juniper. The result is a bold campfire smokiness in dark, crunchy crystals. Page 38

Gulf Coast Pecan Smoked Salt

See also Gulf Coast White Sea Salt. The puffy white crystals are cold-smoked over pecan wood to a cozy golden brown. The aroma is rich and mapley with a pungent, woodsy flavor. Pages 115, 137

Halen Môn Gold Sea Salt

Pure Sea Salt Smoked Over Oak

See also Halen Môn Silver Flake Sea Salt. This salt is cold-smoked over oak to impart full-bodied smokiness. The golden nuggets of layered flakes boast an invitingly rich, gold color and vivid aromas of vanilla, oak, and campfires. Pages 27, 31, 137, 147

Icelandic Birch Smoked Sea Salt

See also Icelandic Flake Salt. This cold-smoked version brings gentle but still rustic aromas of a hearth fire. Page 147

Maine Apple Smoked Sea Salt

Coarse, mineral-rich Maine Sea Salt is painstakingly cold-smoked by hand over seasoned wood from apple trees. Coarse, intensely saline pebbles burst with intense bonfire aromas and traces of applewood sweetness. Page 27

Maine Hickory Smoked Sea Salt

See also Maine Apple Smoked Sea Salt. This version is cold-smoked with hickory wood, for nutty, slightly peppery, almost oily opulence. Page 114

Maldon Smoked Sea Salt

See also Maldon Sea Salt. This smoked version is cold-smoked with mixed hardwoods. The aromas are subtle, refined, with light astringency and sweetness. Pages 31, 48, 143, 147

Mesquite Smoked Sea Salt

See also Maine Apple Smoked Sea Salt. Cold-smoked with mesquite, these birdshot-size ochre crystals harbor aromas of a high plains fire pit the day after a buffalo hunt. Page 38

Oryx Desert Smoked Salt

See also Oryx Desert Salt. This version is cold-smoked with French oak. The crystals are hard, with mild aromas of diesel, peat, and oak. Pages 29, 53, 147

Red Alder Smoked Salt

Salish Alderwood Smoked Sea Salt

This pebble-textured Pacific sea salt brandishes intense aromas of alderwood smoke combined with the smoke of half a dozen other trees in the vicinity. The flavor is not unlike putting your tongue to an extinct campfire, and it kindles an urge to light it up and cook some more. Pages 31, 38, 48

Sugar Maple Smoked Sea Salt

See also Maine Apple Smoked Sea Salt. This version offers plenty of smoke backed by gentle notes of spicy-sweetness. Pages 76, 115

Vancouver Island Smoked Sea Salt

Tawny-colored, fine crystals are cold-smoked over alder, apple, and maple woods for a mild bonfire aroma and a remarkably balanced, sweetly smoky flavor. Pages 27, 38, 147




■ = Fleur de Sel ■ = Sel Gris ■ = Flake ■ = Traditional ■ = Shio ■ = Rock ■ = Smoked ■ = Infused ■ = Curing

Korean Bamboo Salt

Jukyeom, Amethyst Bamboo 9x Salt

Coarse sea salt is put into a canister of giant bamboo, capped with yellow clay, and baked. This ancient Korean process can be repeated, with the intensity of the eggy, umami flavor increasing each time. Bamboo 1x is baked once. 9x is baked nine times. 9x versions, called Jukyeom, are heated to 1,400 degrees and melted in the last step. Depending on the variety, colors can vary from amethyst to oyster, and pale beige to salt-and-pepper. The flavor ranges from mildly titillating to medievally punishing aromas of eggs cooked on a bed of lava. Pages 47, 49

Black Truffle Salt


Sun-evaporated Sicilian sea salt is infused with Italian black summer truffles. The opulent aroma that pervades and fills the room with just a single sprinkle expands even bigger in the mouth, a potent, feral umami mushroominess that quickens the mind and swells the soul. Pages 100, 111, 113

Blue Lavender Flake Salt

Lavender Salt

Flake sea salt crystals are expertly infused with natural lavender and aroma. Lavender is a beautiful scent but can be tricky to use with food. Its heavy camphor notes can overwhelm or make food taste decidedly unfoodlike. Excellent lavender salt fixes this, delivering elegant floral notes that entwine effortlessly with sweet and savory flavors alike. Pages 40, 130, 134, 137

Cherry Plum Salt

This salt was inspired by a culinary institution in Japan, the umeboshi, or salt-preserved plum. Packing plums in a jar with sea salt pulls out 20 to 30 percent of the plum’s liquid, which is used to infuse a fine shio. The superfine, pale pink crystals harbor a mild acidity that makes this salt unique. Page 55

Chocolate Salt

Guatemalan fleur de sel is blended with dark chocolate and natural chocolate flavor using a secret recipe. The medium-fine granular crystals are coffee colored, harboring moderate residual moisture and delivering decadent chocolaty flavor. Pages 16, 132, 137

Fleur de Hell

Ghost Pepper Salt

Fleur de sel meets ghost pepper. One of the hottest peppers in the world, India’s legendary bhut jolokia pepper is expertly infused into the glittering crystals of the salt world’s natural-born leader, fleur de sel. Pages 14, 51, 60, 74, 75, 131, 143, 148

Kamebishi Soy Salt

Shoyu (soy sauce) is fermented in one hundred-year-old cedar vats for three years. The resulting shoyu has 14.5 percent salt content by weight and is evaporated off to create dark chestnut-colored flakes and porous, pumicelike granules with rice-cake crunch and rich, purring umami flavor. Page 28

Lemon Flake Salt

Lemon Flake is hand-harvested from the Mediterranean Sea after being channeled through a network of dikes and ponds. Imposing pyramidal crystals provide an extraordinarily satisfying crunch, dappled with sunshine in the form of an infusion of bright, pungent, candy-sweet lemon juice flavor. Pages 74, 75, 134, 137

Orange Flake Salt

Fine flake sea salt is craftily infused with natural orange zest and aroma, yielding a salt with heady orange-forward fragrance and a sunshiny citrus grove taste. Pages 134, 143

Pesto Flake Salt

Parchment fine sea salt flakes are infused with DOP Genovese basil, authentic Parmigiano-Reggiano, earthy pine nuts, and aromatic garlic. Herbaceous, savory flakes transform in the mouth into liquid pesto. Pages 107, 112

Pinot Noir Sea Salt

Hand-harvested sea salt is infused with concentrated Pinot Noir wine. Vinous fragrance and magenta color dissolve into a tamarindlike tart sweetness that reverberates playfully against the salt. Pages 40, 75, 134, 137

Rosemary Flake Salt

Hand-harvested flake sea salt is infused with fragrant rosemary. The fine shards and pyramids crackle to release the opulent perfumes of pine and fresh herbs. Pages 31, 40, 107, 143

Saffron Salt

Saffron is blended with fine-grained Sicilian sea salt to create something greater than the sum of its parts. Elegant yet pungent aromas burst with a complexity that cannot be defined in the grass, hay, grain, and honey notes that attempt to enclose it. No wonder saffron is the world’s most expensive spice. This salt is the most cost-effective way to keep saffron in your diet. Pages 42, 107

Sage Salt

Mineral-rich sea salt heads for the hills where it finds vibrant, heady sage. The crystals are a cacophony of flakes and jumbled grains that burst like a late summer herb garden in your mouth. Pages 31, 107, 143

Sal de Gusano

This traditional condiment from Oaxaca is made by combining Oaxaca sea salt with árbol and pasilla chiles and the dried larvae called gusanos. Gusanos feed on maguey roots, the plants grown to make mezcal, and are sometimes lurking at the bottom of the bottle—a macho and funny gift from the distiller. They are a delicacy in the region and lend crazy savory flavor to the spicy, zesty salt. Pages 28, 51, 69, 73

Scorpion Salt

Hand-harvested fleur de sel from Guatemala is infused with the powdered moruga scorpion chile, one of the world’s hottest chile peppers. The flavor is earthy and sweet beneath the merciless sting of chile heat. Pages 51, 61

Taha’a Vanilla

Halen Môn Pure Sea Salt with Vanilla

The seemingly simple combination of Tahitian vanilla pods and pure Halen Môn Silver Flake Sea Salt yields something that is anything but simple. Opulent vanilla aromas wake up the senses and the filo-flake crunch of minerally crystals whips them into a frenzy. The savory-sweet salt perfume is an untamable but delicious conundrum for the mind and for the mouth. Pages 74, 76, 89, 131, 132, 146

Prague Powder #1

Pink Salt, DQ Cure #1, Instacure #1, Curing Salt

Prague Powder #1 is a curing salt containing sodium chloride and sodium nitrate. The sodium nitrate helps with conversion of food proteins to preserve flavor and color and to provide better texture in cured meats. It is best for shorter cures. This salt is for curing only and must never be eaten straight as a seasoning. Pages 62, 63

Prague Powder #2

Instacure #2

Prague Powder #2 is a curing salt containing sodium chloride, sodium nitrate, and sodium nitrite. The sodium nitrate helps with conversion of food proteins to preserve flavor and color and to provide better texture in cured meats. It is best for longer cures. This salt is for curing only and must never be eaten straight as a seasoning. Page 63

Howard Bitterman, Pisa, Italy, 2015