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Salt/Pepper Shaker Question


jpschust
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On the mainland we usually find that our salt shakers have more holes than our pepper shakers, but as we honeymoon in Hawaii we keep finding that it's the other way around here. What gives? Any thoughts?
"Western" black pepper comes from the piper nigrum plant. In Hawai'i (and most of the western Pacific Rim), piper philipinensis is easier to come by. It goes through a different drying process, which results in a peppercorn that is much less potent than its nigrum cousin. Hence, more holes to let more through (since you need more to get the same level of flavor).

Most of the salt in the lower 48 comes from "brine" mining where water is pumped into Silurian salt deposits for extraction and evaporation of the water. The whole process is very "industrial" and results in very uniform crystals, so you get even pours every shake. Most salt in Hawai'i comes from (you guessed it) the ocean. More variation in the crystal size. Thus, fewer holes give you more control in case you get a very fine batch.

The entire distribution of salt and pepper shakers vis a vis number of holes is controlled by an organization called SPICE: Salt and Pepper International Control and Enforcement. They have thousands of offices around the world that distribute salt and pepper shakers through multiple channels like Mortons. All of these various SPICE channels report directly to the President, who is himself controlled by a race of reptilian cyborgs from the Moon who rely on salt and pepper to fuel their intergalactic sex pods, which look like giant Segways and landed on Earth soon after Julius Caesar's resurrection (approximately forty seven months ago).

And by all that I mean I have no fucking clue. Why in Caesar's name are you on DR.com on your honeymoon in Hawai'i?!?!?! Go find a sex pod on the beach and go to town!!!

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"Western" black pepper comes from the piper nigrum plant. In Hawai'i (and most of the western Pacific Rim), piper philipinensis is easier to come by. It goes through a different drying process, which results in a peppercorn that is much less potent than its nigrum cousin. Hence, more holes to let more through (since you need more to get the same level of flavor).

Most of the salt in the lower 48 comes from "brine" mining where water is pumped into Silurian salt deposits for extraction and evaporation of the water. The whole process is very "industrial" and results in very uniform crystals, so you get even pours every shake. Most salt in Hawai'i comes from (you guessed it) the ocean. More variation in the crystal size. Thus, fewer holes give you more control in case you get a very fine batch.

The entire distribution of salt and pepper shakers vis a vis number of holes is controlled by an organization called SPICE: Salt and Pepper International Control and Enforcement. They have thousands of offices around the world that distribute salt and pepper shakers through multiple channels like Mortons. All of these various SPICE channels report directly to the President, who is himself controlled by a race of reptilian cyborgs from the Moon who rely on salt and pepper to fuel their intergalactic sex pods, which look like giant Segways and landed on Earth soon after Julius Caesar's resurrection (approximately forty seven months ago).

And by all that I mean I have no fucking clue. Why in Caesar's name are you on DR.com on your honeymoon in Hawai'i?!?!?! Go find a sex pod on the beach and go to town!!!

OK, it took me entirely too long to see where this was going. Very funny!

But, I do have a salt question for our esteemed ersatz expert et. al.

I've been seasoning/cooking with kosher salt for years. Couldn't go back now. Recently, I bought some nice Hawaiian pink salt and another black salt. I'd like to use them for finishing dishes, but the chunks are too big and I feel that they would need to be ground down a bit before using.

Does anyone have rec's for a salt grinder...or a pepper grinder that's great for these chunky salts?

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OK, it took me entirely too long to see where this was going. Very funny!

But, I do have a salt question for our esteemed ersatz expert et. al.

I've been seasoning/cooking with kosher salt for years. Couldn't go back now. Recently, I bought some nice Hawaiian pink salt and another black salt. I'd like to use them for finishing dishes, but the chunks are too big and I feel that they would need to be ground down a bit before using.

Does anyone have rec's for a salt grinder...or a pepper grinder that's great for these chunky salts?

I'll save you the trouble and tell you right off that I'm not messing with you in this post. :P

Are we talking like one giant ROCK of salt, or are we talking a jar full of pebbles (like bath salt size)?

First off, people who use salt grinders on plain salt are just wasting money. Salt isn't like pepper in that it will taste better freshly ground. What will make salt taste different is texture.

By grinding the (likely expensive) salt you purchased, you're altering the way it's going to "taste."

Texture is a very important component of salt. Whether you've got a tiny powder, a giant crystal, or delicate flakes will affect how the salt dissolves on your tongue and thus how you perceive its flavor (and the flavor of the food you're eating).

If you feel like the pink and black salts as they are will make your dish too salty, I'd recommend simply using less of them. Alternatively, just do what I do when I need to grind large quantities of pepper: put them in a ziploc bag on the counter and go to town with a hammer. That way you still keep something of a novel texture (as opposed to a grinder which will make them dull and uniform, and you probably wouldn't taste what you paid for).

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I'll save you the trouble and tell you right off that I'm not messing with you in this post. :P

Are we talking like one giant ROCK of salt, or are we talking a jar full of pebbles (like bath salt size)?

First off, people who use salt grinders on plain salt are just wasting money. Salt isn't like pepper in that it will taste better freshly ground. What will make salt taste different is texture.

By grinding the (likely expensive) salt you purchased, you're altering the way it's going to "taste."

Texture is a very important component of salt. Whether you've got a tiny powder, a giant crystal, or delicate flakes will affect how the salt dissolves on your tongue and thus how you perceive its flavor (and the flavor of the food you're eating).

If you feel like the pink and black salts as they are will make your dish too salty, I'd recommend simply using less of them. Alternatively, just do what I do when I need to grind large quantities of pepper: put them in a ziploc bag on the counter and go to town with a hammer. That way you still keep something of a novel texture (as opposed to a grinder which will make them dull and uniform, and you probably wouldn't taste what you paid for).

They are like pebbles. I think I'll try giving them a little rough grind with a mallet and see how that goes. On beautiful med/rare bites of steak, that is.

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I was going to recommend mortar and pestle.
I feel like that would leave you with some big chunks but a lot of powder. I think the cleaving provided by the mallet as opposed to the rubbing/grinding of the mortar and pestle will yield a better result.

Put your palate to the test. Try both, see if you can tell a difference. :P

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Does anyone have rec's for a salt grinder...or a pepper grinder that's great for these chunky salts?

Microplane makes a "salt shaver" broad plane for just this purpose. If your black salt is like most, it's dominated by a strong sulfurous odor and best employed in very small quantities. A plane is your best bet here - it produces a fine powder. I haven't used Hawaiian red salt in chunk form; it's a sea salt, and usually harvested in a ready-to-use grain size. But I have seen people use planes on chunks of Himalayan pink salt.

As far as I can tell, the Perfex salt mill is identical to their pepper mill save for the stamped letter.

The texture of salt is normally determined by the monitoring or controlling the crystal growth as the water is evaporated out of the brine, hence the planar flakes of fleur du sel, the tight crystals of table salt, the coarse sandy crystals of grey sea salt, the coarse frangible crystals of "ordinary" kosher salt, and the airy space-frame crystals of Diamond kosher salt. It's not something you can control by varying the way you cleave small amounts off a bigger chunk.

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I feel like that would leave you with some big chunks but a lot of powder. I think the cleaving provided by the mallet as opposed to the rubbing/grinding of the mortar and pestle will yield a better result.

Put your palate to the test. Try both, see if you can tell a difference. :P

I don't have any big chunks of salt to try it on, but I'm sure you're right.
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