Salt & Pepper - What do you use?

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Kelly Walker
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Salt & Pepper - What do you use?

#1 Post by Kelly Walker » May 7th, 2018, 6:41 pm

Over the recent years I have given much more consideration to the seasonings I use. Particularly Salt & Pepper (S&P). As someone who grills over a 100 days a year, S&P is so important, particularly the quality and style of both.

One of the greatest flaws in food preparation, IMHO, is the improper use of salt and the quality and type of salts used. Now I am no salt aficionado and chuckle at some of the esoteric salt sources and types. For grilling though, my go to is coarse sea (not mined) salt. I don't think you have to go specialty and find that Mortons Kosher coarse sea salt in the blue box fits the bill for every use. The grains are big enough to stand up to olive oil or any other liquid on a food surface. I have yet to find a coarse sea salt that performs any better. Otherwise, as a mineral, to me fine ground cooking salts are all the same.

Now finishing salts are a whole other world and application. I have tried some pretty cool salts like black volcanic that where a perfect match for certain meats and fishes but their limited use keeps me from keeping them in the pantry. Maybe I need to explore these further. Have not yet figured out the craze for pink Himalayan salt.

Beyond salt, pepper is my most beloved seasoning. For so long I did not give it much consideration beyond McCormicks or Kirkland black peppercorns. Fresh ground is obviously light years better than pre-ground. But the quality spectrum of available peppercorns is wide. I stumbled upon a purveyor of the highest quality black Tellicherry peppercorns imported from Wayanad India. The power and complexity is amazing. It adds such complex flavor to any dish demanding pepper. I could never go back as it would be like drinking 2 buck chuck.

As with all food ingredients I believe the best quality results in superior results. I have now stepped up my S&P game.
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#2 Post by Randy Bowman » May 7th, 2018, 7:11 pm

I don't grill much any more and I fell in love with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Pepper way back in 1971, when the salt contained MSG. Food I found to be boring came alive with flavor. Still use Lawry's though it's not the same/as good. Trying to determine the appropriate amount of MSG to add or use.
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#3 Post by Sarah Kirschbaum » May 7th, 2018, 7:57 pm

They may all be the same in terms of quality, but they are not the same in terms of saltiness. You have to be careful if you ever use recipes, for instance, because Mortons Kosher (blue box) is much saltier than, for instance, Diamond Kosher (red box), which is what most restaurants use (to my knowledge) and what most cookbooks use as their reference. Some very good cookbooks will point out that quantities need to be adjusted if you are using the blue box as opposed to the red. Nothing wrong with blue box, you just need a different quantity than with red.

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#4 Post by alan weinberg » May 7th, 2018, 8:32 pm

Fleur de sel sparingly, Tellicherry pepper after grilling so the pepper won’t burn.

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#5 Post by Chris Blum » May 7th, 2018, 9:07 pm

Morton’s Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. My palate is yak like, I guess.
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#6 Post by Dave McIsaac » May 8th, 2018, 4:37 am

For pepper, I love Penzey's Extra Bold Black Tellicherry - imported from India, and only 10 pounds out of a ton make this grade.

As an aside, the owner is a maniacal liberal, and his emails are way over the top IMO. Just a warning, not taking a position.

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#7 Post by David K o l i n » May 8th, 2018, 4:59 am

I use the same penzey’s. And it’s good to see a mania level liberal once in a while. And Bill’s been giving a lot of free stuff away as well
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#8 Post by Craig G » May 8th, 2018, 5:32 am

I totally agree with Sarah. We use Diamond kosher and have occasionally subbed Morton’s. You have to be careful with it. We also keep a box of regular salt for stuff like pasta water, and we have a few finishing salts that we serve at the table, mostly just the regular and smoked Maldon. We have fleur de sel as well but I really like the thin Maldon flakes.

For pepper we have Telicherry. I also use Piment D’Espelette in addition to black pepper in many cases where I would grind pepper into oil. At the table I use shichimi in some cases instead of or in addition to pepper.
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#9 Post by Kelly Walker » May 8th, 2018, 6:11 am

I was not aware of the difference between Mortons blue and Diamond red. I wonder what makes for the difference given the amount?

Yes, Maldon has a unique texture and flavor that I need to keep in the hutch.

I source my Tellicherry from The Reluctant Trading Experiment. Good to know about Penzey's.
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#10 Post by Craig G » May 8th, 2018, 6:19 am

Kelly Walker wrote:I was not aware of the difference between Mortons blue and Diamond red. I wonder what makes for the difference given the amount?
I guess you would say Diamond is “hollower.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/food52.com ... rystal/amp
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#11 Post by Kelly Walker » May 8th, 2018, 6:36 am

Thank you Craig. Your response was worth its salt! I salute you :)
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#12 Post by Siun o'Connell » May 8th, 2018, 7:37 am

I use Tellichery from The Spice House here - their selections are superb overall. I also use a variety of salts rom them, leaning towards the Pink Himalayian most frequently but my son and daughter swear by their Vulcan Salt mix which I have to ship to them on a regular basis.

https://www.thespicehouse.com/buy/salt-and-peppercorns?

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#13 Post by David Wright » May 8th, 2018, 8:23 am

Re measuring equivalent amounts of salt, a gram of Diamond should be as salty as a gram of Mortons. The discrepancy arises when measuring by volume.

That Pink Himalayan salt was formed (precipitated from seawater) in a shallow sea on the margin of Gondawanaland about 500 million years ago. The pink color is from iron impurities. About 100 million years ago the Indian tectonic plate started moving northward, carrying what is now the subcontinent of India and this salt deposit northward. The Indian Plate eventually ran into Asia, creating the Himalaya Mountains. In a broad sense you can think of this as "Gondwanan sea salt."

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#14 Post by Corey N. » May 8th, 2018, 8:42 am

David K o l i n wrote:I use the same penzey’s. And it’s good to see a mania level liberal once in a while. And Bill’s been giving a lot of free stuff away as well
A little OT but they are the same family as the Spice House, which was recently sold in a private transaction. My friend is the new CEO.
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#15 Post by Scott G r u n e r » May 8th, 2018, 9:41 am

Randy Bowman wrote:I don't grill much any more and I fell in love with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Pepper way back in 1971, when the salt contained MSG. Food I found to be boring came alive with flavor. Still use Lawry's though it's not the same/as good. Trying to determine the appropriate amount of MSG to add or use.
I hear change in smoking habits also changes taste for salt. Chef's that smoke tend to over-salt more commonly, etc.
//Cynic

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#16 Post by Anton D » May 8th, 2018, 9:43 am

Randy Bowman wrote:I don't grill much any more and I fell in love with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Pepper way back in 1971, when the salt contained MSG. Food I found to be boring came alive with flavor. Still use Lawry's though it's not the same/as good. Trying to determine the appropriate amount of MSG to add or use.
I will be interested in seeing if this aspect of your palate will change after stopping smoking! [cheers.gif]
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#17 Post by David K o l i n » May 8th, 2018, 9:46 am

Corey N. wrote:
David K o l i n wrote:I use the same penzey’s. And it’s good to see a mania level liberal once in a while. And Bill’s been giving a lot of free stuff away as well
A little OT but they are the same family as the Spice House, which was recently sold in a private transaction. My friend is the new CEO.
I think that was right, but I had heard they were feuding cousins. I like them both.

And I use Morton’s as my regular salt. I used Diamond for a while, but the boxes didn’t fit in my shelves. I also use fleur de sel and Maldon frequently for finishing
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#18 Post by Anton D » May 8th, 2018, 9:51 am

Nanny lives with us and has some heart issues, so it has been quite a while since I got to play with salt.

I like to shop at Spice Ace in SF and Local Spicery in Tiburon...

https://www.spiceace.com/

http://www.localspicery.com/store/

We like the Chardonnay Oak Smoked Fleur de Sel, Danish Viking Smoked Sea Salt, Applewood Smoked Sea Salt, and the basic Fleur de Sel - Ile de Re.

Murray River Salt from Local Spicery is good, as well.

For peppers, we are all over the place.
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#19 Post by Jay Miller » May 8th, 2018, 10:36 am

Craig G wrote:
Kelly Walker wrote:I was not aware of the difference between Mortons blue and Diamond red. I wonder what makes for the difference given the amount?
I guess you would say Diamond is “hollower.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/food52.com ... rystal/amp
Wow, that was interesting. I always use Diamond simply because that's what my mother used. I'm still annoyed that they changed the packaging though at least the box is still red.

Penzey's Tellicherry here for black pepper. I found an old bag of white peppercorns while unpacking after getting my furniture but it's been so long I have no idea where I sourced it.
Ripe fruit isn't necessarily a flaw.

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#20 Post by Victor Hong » May 8th, 2018, 11:15 am

An otherwise black-and-white matter gets so complicated.
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#21 Post by Peter Metzger » May 8th, 2018, 11:21 am

I know I'm a Neanderthal, Luddite and cretin, but I'm waiting for a thread to inquire as to the best air to breath when cooking ..... I assume someone has already covered the question of the best type of water to use.
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#22 Post by M.Kaplan » May 8th, 2018, 11:52 am

For most cooking, I grind large grain sel gris from Ile de Re by Esprit du Sel in a mortar and pestle.
For finishing, Matiz Flor de Sol flakes, alder smoked sea salt from the San Francisco Salt Co., or Maldon flakes.
For pepper, high quality whole Tellicherry ground in a brass Turkish spice grinder

In addition, I've picked up varieties of pink and black Hawaiian, pink Himalayan, sea salt with piment d'Espelette, and a few others that caught my eye.
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#23 Post by Alan Rath » May 8th, 2018, 12:56 pm

Another Penzey's users here, for both salt and pepper. I get the shaker grind in the bottle for cooking, and the Tellicherry peppercorns for a couple of grinders I use (coarse and fine). Then their coarse sea salt to go in the grinder, which is what I use for almost everything, both cooking and seasoning, unless a recipe requires quite a lot of salt.

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#24 Post by Todd F r e n c h » May 8th, 2018, 1:19 pm

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#25 Post by Rob Isaacs » May 8th, 2018, 1:31 pm

Sarah Kirschbaum wrote:They may all be the same in terms of quality, but they are not the same in terms of saltiness. You have to be careful if you ever use recipes, for instance, because Mortons Kosher (blue box) is much saltier than, for instance, Diamond Kosher (red box), which is what most restaurants use (to my knowledge) and what most cookbooks use as their reference. Some very good cookbooks will point out that quantities need to be adjusted if you are using the blue box as opposed to the red. Nothing wrong with blue box, you just need a different quantity than with red.
Next time you see both boxes side by side it's clear why the Mortons is more salty. The Diamond Kosher is about a third larger box but they are both three pounds. Measuring by volume will not give the same results. I completely over salted some pasta at my brothers house because I wasn't used to using the Morton salt. He held up both boxes and said "both are three pounds", I never forgot that lesson.

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#26 Post by Magnus Solhjell » May 8th, 2018, 1:46 pm

I can't recommend Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat highly enough, and its chapter on correct salting in particular. I have way to many cookbooks, but that book has completely changed the way I cook.
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#27 Post by Chris Foley » May 8th, 2018, 2:43 pm

I like Seneca Salt Company Grapevine Smoked Sea Salt and Spice Islands Tellicherry Peppercorns.
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#28 Post by Craig G » May 8th, 2018, 7:06 pm

Siun o'Connell wrote:my son and daughter swear by their Vulcan Salt mix
That seems logical.
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#29 Post by Randy Bowman » May 8th, 2018, 7:15 pm

Scott G r u n e r wrote:
Randy Bowman wrote:I don't grill much any more and I fell in love with Lawry's Seasoned Salt and Pepper way back in 1971, when the salt contained MSG. Food I found to be boring came alive with flavor. Still use Lawry's though it's not the same/as good. Trying to determine the appropriate amount of MSG to add or use.
I hear change in smoking habits also changes taste for salt. Chef's that smoke tend to over-salt more commonly, etc.
Funny, Carrie uses a minimum of salt on anything and complains things are too salty. Today, I noticed just how salty the multi-grain crackers are that were just fine 4 weeks ago so it is probably true.
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#30 Post by T Welch » May 8th, 2018, 7:31 pm

Grecian Formula
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#31 Post by Jay Miller » May 9th, 2018, 7:14 am

Craig G wrote:
Siun o'Connell wrote:my son and daughter swear by their Vulcan Salt mix
That seems logical.
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#32 Post by Chris Blum » May 9th, 2018, 7:19 am

T Welch wrote:Grecian Formula

[welldone.gif]
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#33 Post by Siun o'Connell » May 9th, 2018, 9:40 am

Craig G wrote:
Siun o'Connell wrote:my son and daughter swear by their Vulcan Salt mix
That seems logical.
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#34 Post by P. Willenberg » May 9th, 2018, 10:00 am

I cook with Fleur de Sel https://bittermansalt.co/collections/bi ... l-sea-salt

and finish with flake https://bittermansalt.co/collections/si ... e-sea-salt

good info on that website too. he's got shops in Portland and the West Village, natch.
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#35 Post by Mel Hill » May 9th, 2018, 10:04 am

i’ve noticed quite a discrepancy between diamond crystal and Morton kosher when measured in volume and that is why I use a scale for measurement when baking.
Penzy’s extra bold pepper
and a variety of finishing salts including a grenache salt that my wine importer sister sends me every year. my favorites are the malden and the malden smoked

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#36 Post by c fu » May 9th, 2018, 2:44 pm

diamond all day every day.
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#37 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » May 9th, 2018, 7:25 pm

Mel Hill wrote:i’ve noticed quite a discrepancy between diamond crystal and Morton kosher when measured in volume and that is why I use a scale for measurement when baking.
Penzy’s extra bold pepper
and a variety of finishing salts including a grenache salt that my wine importer sister sends me every year. my favorites are the malden and the malden smoked
Measuring by weight is the way to go, especially for baking.

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#38 Post by Poppy Davis » May 9th, 2018, 8:52 pm

A couple of years ago my grocery store was out of Diamond so I bought Morton. I ended up ruining several dishes by oversalting, so I threw out the box. I'm sticking with Diamond.
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#39 Post by Betty C » May 10th, 2018, 12:37 am

So many recs for Penzy. I’m gonna pick up on this, ooh.
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#40 Post by Rob_S » May 10th, 2018, 6:32 am

Diamond for cooking but I love high quality balinese for finishing. Massive hollow four sided pyramids. Have a hard time melting so provide great crunch and look great.
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#41 Post by P. Willenberg » May 10th, 2018, 11:45 am

Betty C wrote:So many recs for Penzy. I’m gonna pick up on this, ooh.
You do need to have a high flash point for his politics. He's pretty close minded.
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#42 Post by Betty C » May 10th, 2018, 2:57 pm

P. Willenberg wrote:
Betty C wrote:So many recs for Penzy. I’m gonna pick up on this, ooh.
You do need to have a high flash point for his politics. He's pretty close minded.
[snort.gif]
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#43 Post by AlexS » May 10th, 2018, 6:40 pm

Penzeys

Their quality is sooooooooo good and they have 3 stores in close vicinity.
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#44 Post by Lee Short » May 10th, 2018, 8:29 pm

For pepper, I do the Pohnpei from sirspice.com. I used to do the Talamanca del Caribe, but it is gone and will never be back.

Their sampler pack used to have 7 varieties. I bought one, and did a pepper tasting with a root vegetable gratin as the substrate. I'd still recommend the sampler pack: https://www.sirspice.com/collections/sa ... mpler-pack

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#45 Post by Dave McIsaac » May 11th, 2018, 4:12 am

P. Willenberg wrote:
Betty C wrote:So many recs for Penzy. I’m gonna pick up on this, ooh.
You do need to have a high flash point for his politics. He's pretty close minded.
He is everything he rails about as being divisive, etc.

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#46 Post by David K o l i n » May 11th, 2018, 6:00 am

Dave McIsaac wrote:
P. Willenberg wrote:
Betty C wrote:So many recs for Penzy. I’m gonna pick up on this, ooh.
You do need to have a high flash point for his politics. He's pretty close minded.
He is everything he rails about as being divisive, etc.
Bill is an unapologetic anti-Trump liberal and talks about it. He does represent and old line Wisconsin political class that way. If you don't want to read such stuff, Penzey's may not be for you. If you do, have at it. His positions have generally been very good for his business
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#47 Post by Rob Isaacs » May 11th, 2018, 6:35 am

I've never tried Penzey's but I the pepper from The Reluctant Trading Experiment is the best I've had.

https://reluctanttrading.com/collection ... eppercorns

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#48 Post by Bob Kot » June 18th, 2018, 6:02 am

Try the “Applewood Smoked Sea Salt”. Absolutely insane. One taste and you’re hooked.

Can be ordered online form the Atlantic Spice Company, North Truro MA.

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#49 Post by TimF » June 21st, 2018, 6:48 am

Has anyone here tried smoking salt? I figured I'd put a pan of salt in the smoker the next time I've got a cook going.
Tim F@itsch

Lee Short
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Joined: May 30th, 2009, 7:33 am
Location: Portland, OR

Salt & Pepper - What do you use?

#50 Post by Lee Short » June 22nd, 2018, 9:18 am

TimF wrote:Has anyone here tried smoking salt? I figured I'd put a pan of salt in the smoker the next time I've got a cook going.
Haven't tried it, but the melting point of sodium is high enough (801 C) that you shouldn't need to do anything fancy like cold smoke it. I may have to try it next time I smoke something, should be next weekend.

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