The 10 Best Salt Grinders
To Salt Or Not to Salt?
We all need salt. It's a necessity of life for humans. As such, the limits are boundless when it comes to presenting the precious dietary staple. Salt is used as a preservative in food, a flavoring agent, and for pickling foods as well. The versatility of this commodity is not to be understated.
In recent years, the salt grinder has risen to prominence, rivaling the classic salt shaker. A salt grinder is designed to process coarse salt into smaller pieces for dressing a meal. It's functionality is very similar to that of a pepper mill and it is often paired in a set with its companion.
Although some salt grinders are operated manually with a burr grinder as opposed to a blade mill, our list does include several electric models as well. Whereas a pepper mill is used to break the husk of the peppercorns, and release the fresh aroma and flavor of the pepper, the salt grinder may not have such an obvious function. There is no such thing as a salt corn, so one might ask if the salt grinder is essential when one can simply buy a smaller grain of salt.
You would be hard pressed to find a culinary expert insisting that a salt grinder is a necessity. Usually it's a product of luxury and personal taste. Its pairing with a pepper mill makes it aesthetically pleasing. Also, if you like chunkier salts, the grinder will be able to customize the grain size as opposed to pre-ground flakes or iodized salt.
The Nitty Gritty
If you are a Type A personality who likes order and symmetry, then I suggest you buy a pepper and salt combination set. They are cosmetically pleasing and they give you some peace of mind knowing that they will both operate in a similar fashion.
If you are interested in multiple uses for your salt grinder, ensure that the one you choose can accommodate other herbs and spices. Do not assume that every grinder will accommodate other ingredients; they may have a tendency of getting stuck and jamming your burr grinder.
Grinders come in a variety of materials. Plastic models are cheap and prone to wear easily as opposed to glass, ceramic, or stainless steel. The steel and ceramic models are durable options of course, yet some might yield to glass if only for the fact that you can see the level of salt left in the grinder, eliminating the guesswork. I would suggest glass if you are working in a high volume kitchen and cannot afford the time to replace the salt.
The biggest reason that the salt grinder has come into fashion is the grain size. A chunky cube of salt topping a dish is seen as an enhancement and consumers prefer the texture of a larger grain over its standard table salt cousin. The grinder will ensure a standard grain size. The salt grinder can be used as a regulator to make sure a pre-measured amount of salt is added to a dish.
The possibility of different grain sizes is simply a matter of personal preference. If the salt is going to be dissolved in a liquid, the grain size does not matter. The general rule, however, is that larger crystals of salt are more aesthetically pleasing and savory as a finishing touch on dishes.
The History of Salt
Salt was a valuable commodity in ancient times, so much so that Roman soldiers were even paid in salt, making it their salary. The demand for salt worldwide became so high that salt roads were developed to bring the precious commodity to regions that lacked the natural resource.
Salt comes from two sources: salt rock and ocean water. As early as 8,000 years ago, cultures in what is now Romania were boiling spring water to collect the byproduct of the evaporation, salt.
Salt at the table was established in Roman antiquity by the salt cellar. An open vessel designed to hold salt, it enjoyed popularity until the salt shaker arrived in the twentieth century. The new anti-caking agents added to salt made it easy to flow from a shaker, eliminating the need for a cellar. The anti-caking agents in table salt are still used today along with iodine to replenish minerals stripped in the purification process of the salt.
Salt and pepper shakers rose to popularity in the 1920's and became a staple on dining tables in the Western hemisphere. The salt cellar became obsolete and the novelty of a matched salt and pepper set became the standard. Collecting pairs became a hobby for consumers.
The future of seasoning rests on the shoulders of the salt grinder. I personally believe a pepper mill and salt grinder will replace the salt and pepper shaker very soon, given the public attitude of personalization of food and the demand for customization and health consciousness.