One ingredient we almost cannot do without in the kitchen is salt. Almost every delicious dish, even the sweet options, uses salt to an extent. You might want to stretch a little bit more and add more savoury complexity to your dish, which is where smoked salt comes in. Is smoked salt healthy though?
The smoked salt phenomenon has grown popular in recent years among world-class chefs, foodies, vegans and vegetarians. As a gourmet salt, its richness enhances your dishes’ natural flavours with a savoury smokiness right out of the grill, even if it isn’t. But it shouldn’t stop you from taking it in moderation no matter how savoury it is, it is still salt.
Shortly we will be discussing the variety of smoked salt flavours and textures that gives your dish a smoky finishing touch, their uses and health benefits.
Before digging into smoked salt’s effects on health, particularly for people with diabetes and high blood pressure, let’s define what we mean by smoked salt.
What is Smoked Salt?
Smoked salt is a sweet-scented edible salt, smoked with select bark-free woods between 2 to 14 days. Smoked salts impart a smoky taste while enhancing the natural flavours of a dish.
It can be used by anyone, from meat-lovers who want to beef up their barbecue to vegans and vegetarians especially since it usually acts as a stand-in for bacon crumbles.
The smoked salt can either be used alone or mixed into other spices, on the barbecue. It is not limited as a barbecue flavour to barbecue dishes alone, but can be used in several other types of dishes, except baked food.
Smoked salt is a natural salt product and cannot be classified to be the same as smoke flavoured salt, which contains a smoke-flavoured additive.
What is Smoked Sea Salt?
Smoked salt is actually Sea salt or Rock salt that has gone through a smoking process for an added flavour. In choosing salt for smoking, the salt with larger granules or more surface area is selected. The smoke will adhere and cling to the surface of the salt, so using table salt is not an option.
Some folks also smoke Morton kosher salt (flake salt), apart from coarse sea salt, because the smoke infuses rather well with it also.
You may wonder if Himalayan salt can also be smoked. Well, it can, but it not a recommendation because the naturally unique flavour of the salt may be overwhelmed by the smoke.
This is our broadcast about Himalayan Pink Salt.
Types of Smoked Salts
Smoked Hickory Salt
This salt has been cold-smoked with Hickory wood which imparts a blend of sweet and savoury flavour and a strong smoky taste.
This flavour mimics Southern U.S. cooking, which is just perfect for red meat, pork, ribs, turkey, burgers, maple syrup, bacon, ham, honey and even prawns.
Smoked Applewood Salt
Sweet applewood is used to cold smoke this type of salt which gives it a gorgeous sweet, fruity and woody flavour.
This can be said to be the most delicate type of smoked salt perfect for fish, shellfish, roast veggies and poultry.
Smoked Alderwood Salt
This salt is slow-smoked over red Alderwood, it is versatile and robust and can be added to a wide range of dishes. Red Alderwood is known as the traditional smoking wood of the North American Indians.
Smoked Chardonnay Oak Salt
The wood used in smoking this salt is from old oak barrels already used to age French chardonnay. The salt is cold-smoked over chipped pieces of old oak barrels, in small batches.
It comes out with a gentle smoky flavour and a delicious hint of wine, more delicate than the others.
This salt is perfect for delicate soups or sauces, and seafood.
Smoked Mesquite Salt
Mesquite wood is used to naturally cold smoke this type of salt, which gives it a unique distinctive Texas flavour. It is fantastic for poultry, red meats or every other thing cooked on the grill.
Extra Bold Smoked Salt
A blend of 7 carefully selected wood is used to naturally smoke salt for about 14 days to create a satisfying smokehouse flavour. The salt comes out with a rugged intense taste that is rich just as it is enticing.
It is used in stews, sauces, chilli, marinades and soups. And can also be sprinkled on top of a chicken, pork, steak, salmon or tuna for that BBQ flavour.
Other smoked salt types are
- Cherrywood smoked salt,
- Irish Whiskey smoked salt,
- Maple smoked salt,
- Chipotle smoked salt,
- Beechwood smoked salt and
- Bourbon smoked salt.
Is Smoked Salt The Same as Black Salt?
Black salt used in cooking comes in three types – Hawaiian Black sea salt, Cyprus Black flake salt and the Indian Black salt (also Himalayan black salt or Kala Namak).
The Hawaiian black salt
The Hawaiian black salt comes from the waters of the Pacific Ocean surrounding the remote Hawaiian Islands but gets its black tone, smokiness and earthly flavour from activated charcoal. It is fantastic for removing impurities from the body and for digestion.
The Cyprus Black flake salt
It comes from the Mediterranean Sea off the Cyprus coast, and carbon gotten from activated charcoal.
It is much like the Hawaiian black salt but has its own exotic texture and savoury flavour.
The Indian Black salt
The Indian Black salt or popularly known as Kala Namak or Himalayan black salt is the most revered of black salts. It is made from crushed Indian volcanic rock salt harvested from volcanic mines in Northern Pakistan and India or salt lakes in the Rajasthan area.
It isn’t actually black but a beautiful pinkish brown colour.
Smoked salt is not the same as black salt, although they are both gourmet salts perfect for finishing, coarse and crunchy in texture, and add smokiness to your dishes. One obvious distinction can be found in their flavour.
Tip: Did you know the health benefits of Himalayan salt walls, caves and spas?
The Indian black salt imparts a flavour similar to the egg yolk and a mildly sour taste, it may smell like hard-boiled eggs, but it quickly disappears once in food.
Both the smoked salt and Indian black salt are loved by vegans and vegetarians for their unique flavours and taste.
Is Smoked Salt Vegan?
Every once in awhile, vegans and vegetarians crave that savoury smoky flavour of meat, seared at high heat. Smoked salt has become one of the ideal ways vegetarians and vegans add a hearty BBQ flavour to their dishes without resorting to animal products.
How is Smoked Salt Different From Other Types of Salts?
Every salt crystal is made from harvesting salt from either seawater or rock-salt deposits found in salt mines. What differentiates these salts is the harvesting and processing techniques used to produce various shapes and density.
This is a natural salt that has been superheated to 1200 o F, which destroys just about any beneficial compounds it may have possessed. It is fortified with Iodine, bleached and without any trace elements.
Also contains additives that slow moisture absorption and makes it easy to sprinkle from your salt shaker. This is definitely not the healthiest salt you can shake.
This salt comes from the ocean and goes through an evaporation process to get rid of the water.
Trace minerals and elements can be found in sea salts depending on the source of the water. These minerals add distinctive flavour and colour to the salt.
It contains less refined, but small amounts of iodine compared to table salt, and many potential health benefits.
Some types of sea salt are – Himalayan pink sea salt, Maldon English sea salt, Celtic or Grey Sea salt, Fleur De Sel (or Flowers of the sea), Dead Sea salt, Hawaiian Black salt, Hawaiian Red salt, Persian Blue and Italian Sea salt.
This is a natural salt that has been processed under kosher compliance.
The original purpose of the kosher salt was to kosher meat, a Jewish practice which used the salt to remove blood from animals. But it has now evolved to become the most common ingredient found in the kitchens of self-taught foodies and world-class chefs.
There is no real significant difference in nutritional benefit between smoked salt and sea salt.
Smoked salts are simply sea salts that have been smoked at low temperatures which adds a savory smoky flavour to the salt crystals, and a tanned or grey colour.
And so apart from the smoky flavour which adds dimension to certain dishes, there are no real health benefits beyond those related with regular sea salt.
What is Smoked Salt Good For? Health Benefits
Sea salt is mostly used to make smoked salt, that means it still contains the health benefits that come with sea salt and some more.
Smoked salt is a great source of micronutrients which comes from the trace minerals and elements found in sea salts.
Balances fluids and prevents dehydration
Too much sodium intake causes water retention in the body, on the other hand, loss in sodium causes loss in water. Both extremes are unhealthy, which is why moderate consumption of sea salt daily ensures that your body maintains sufficient sodium levels.
Electrolytes help in regulating the heartbeat and in muscle contraction for better movement.
Digestive health support
A diet that lacks salt leads to low stomach acid, which throws the digestive system out of balance. This can contribute to problems like stomach pain, heartburn, constipation and vomiting.
By consuming the required amount of smoked sea salt, or regular sea salt, it will help your body produce necessary amounts of HCL.
- Supports Muscle, Brain, and Nervous system function
Sodium has a role to play in regulating the body’s fluid balance, as well as the transmission of electrical signals within the body. Too little and too much sodium causes cellular malfunction. So as much as we try to cut down our salt intake, it is just as important to ensure we get enough.
Supports nutrient absorption
Consuming the right amount of high-quality smoked salt regularly can help your body produce stomach acid. The stomach acid helps our bodies to absorb minerals and vitamins like zinc, calcium, folate, iron and vitamin B12.
Tip: Here are the health benefits of Himalayan Salt Inhalers.
Common Smoked Salt Uses
If you think your dish could use a little more aroma and richness, then smoked salt is perfect for your kitchen. The creative possibilities to explore is infinite with the wide range of flavour options available, a few of which will be mentioned here.
You can use it as a salt rub for your meats
Take your meats to another level with some smoked salt, or smoked salt mixed with herb and spice rub. Burger patties, chicken, tuna, salmon, steak, or simply anything will benefit from the rich boldness of smoke.
Use it on your sweet dishes
Looking to try something new? Have you explored adding smoked salt to your sweet dishes? A taste of some salted caramel ice cream will have you wanting more. How about a sprinkle on some fresh fruit? Or a Smoky bourbon syrup.
Sprinkle it on your breakfast
You can sprinkle some smoked salt on your avocado or eggs, if your breakfast seems bland.
In lieu of grilling
Just in case you want some flame-grilled flavour without the trouble of actually grilling the dish, or perhaps you can’t access a BBQ or grill at all, then smoked salt is the friend you need.
Anything from meat to seafood to veggies, can benefit from a smoked salt’s touch.
You can garnish your drink with it
Enjoy a cocktail experience with some smoked salt on the rim of a Tommy’s margarita or bloody mary.
Used in stews, sauces, soups and marinades
If your dishes are in need of smokiness, add some smoked salt.
Use it to season a snack
An awesome way to beef up your snack is with some smoked salt. Add it on some grilled cheese and sandwich. Sprinkle it to a salad, and fresh veggies like cherry tomatoes or cucumber. Or onto some melon to enjoy some salty-sweet snack.
Is Smoked Salt Bad for Diabetics?
Even though salt does not affect blood sugar levels, it is important to limit the amount you consume as part of your diabetes management, this is because too much salt intake can raise your blood pressure.
Tip: This is why Chinen Salt is a better option for diabetes.
Is Smoked Salt Healthy for High Blood Pressure?
It is a known fact that excessive sodium intake is closely related to the risk of heart disease. And increased sodium intake increases the risk of an individual developing stroke, hypertension, renal diseases and stomach cancer.
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academics, recommends about 3.8 grams of salt a day, which contains about 2.8 grams of sodium.
5 Best Smoked Salts
Among all the varieties of smoked salts, the top 5 are:
Alderwood Smoked salt
Applewood Smoked salt
Hickory Smoked salt
Mesquite Smoked salt
Chardonnay Oak Smoked salt
As a takeaway, it is important to regulate the amount of salt you consume, even for smoked salts whose exotic flavours might make you add more than necessary.
No matter the amount of mineral content in smoked salt or any other type of sea salt has, it shouldn’t be used as an alternative or supplement for foods that contain that nutrition.