October 2020


This is our discussion on salt choices and why you should add salt to food

Adding salt choices has a purpose and why

SALT CHOICES- HOW MUCH AND WHAT KIND?

This article was born from a question which was recently forwarded to SmokinLicious® to answer. “Why salt choices are necessary in food despite adding different ingredients even for sweet dish need(ing) salt”.

I realized just how important salt is to the style of cooking known as barbecue.

Salt Choices- Why the Need to Salt?

Our salt box is a great storage unit for any saltSalt is a mineral found in crystalline form that is used as a seasoning for food. Simply put, salt brings out the flavor or natural essence of food. Salt choices draw out the natural juices in raw meat and dissolves with the liquid forming a brine that gets reabsorbed by the meat. This results in the meat’s ability to hold on to more of its own natural juices during cooking.

Salt Choices- Types

Over the past 5 years, salt choices have become a very hot commodity in the food industry. There are hundreds of kinds of salts but for simplicity sake, I will discuss those that are commonly found in grocery and food specialty stores.

These are our four salt types that we discuss in our blogTable Salt:

Decades ago, this was simply known as iodized salt. This is the most refined salt that is known to have a metallic taste due to the grinding process and high-heat process to produce it. It is almost pure sodium chloride and has the highest per-granule sodium content of all salts. When used in cooking, the cook generally will use too much due to this refined grind size. I recommend you never cook with standard table salt.

Sea Salt:

This salt type is made by the evaporation of seawater which results in the retainment of natural micronutrients. Unlike table salt which uses a high-heat process, sea salt provides minerals of iodine, magnesium, calcium, potassium and bromide. There are many different grind levels in sea salt and each of those, affect the taste, color, and mouthfeel of the salt itself.

Kosher Salt:

Known for its ability to distribute evenly on the surface of food, kosher salt is harvested by mining dried up ocean and sea beds. It has a much coarser grind than table salt, which is considered flaky (For cooks, it is reliable, consistent, inexpensive, and pure).

Finishing Salt:

Just as the name implies, this type of salt is used only when a dish is finished, for instance, sliced tomato with mozzarella and basil, grilled to perfection steak, and even watermelon. Therefore, it is considered a very light tasting salt.

Tamari and Soy Sauce:

I am including tamari and soy sauce as these are very common substitutes for salts in sauces used for barbecue. Sometimes, soy sauce is used in addition to salt or garlic and onion salt for these items, making them much higher in overall sodium content. On average tamari has 700mg sodium per serving while soy sauce comes in at a whopping 1000mg per serving.

Salt Choices in Relation to BBQ Rubs & Seasonings

Hopefully, you’ve learned how to read an ingredient list on any label. The first ingredients listed make up the largest amount of the contents, while the last few ingredients make up the least. I looked at five (5) popular BBQ rubs and seasonings sold on Amazon.com to see what ingredients made up the bulk of these items and where salt rated on the ingredient list. Here are my findings:

McCormick Grill Mates Montreal Steak Seasoning coarse salt, spices, garlic

17th Street Magic Dust All-Purpose Seasoning & Rub salt, sugar, dextrose

Killer Hogs The BBQ Rub – brown sugar, sugar, salt

Stubb’s Beef Spice Rub sea salt, spices, cane sugar

John Wayne Rubs salt, garlic, sugar

As you can see, salt is a primary ingredient of commercially marketed rubs/seasonings for barbecue. Therefore, I always recommend that you give some consideration to making your own rub or seasoning. When produced in large quantity, you can keep these in the refrigerator for up to a month in an air tight container. Best of all, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing you can control the level of sodium in your meal.

We hope you found this article informative and valuable. We’d love your comments! Don’t forget to subscribe to and follow us so you don’t miss a thing. We’ll continue to bring you tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind all things wood-fired!

More Related reading on "What Wood for Smoking" and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

More Related reading on “What Wood for Smoking” and other great smoking and grilling tips and techniques

Related reading:

-10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD SMOKE

-SMOKING FOODS IN FOIL: PROS & CONS

-JUST BECAUSE YOUR SMOKING (FOOD THAT IS!) DOESN’T MAKE IT ALL BAD!

Purchase products:

Smoking Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chips- Minuto® and Piccolo®

Dr Smoke- "Making the right salt choices. This is the hardest part of cooking- too little or too much are both bad."

Dr Smoke- “Making the right salt choices. This is the hardest part of cooking- too little or too much are both bad.”

Chef Bert and Tom combining hardwoods for smoking flavors

Chef Bert and Tom combining hardwoods for smoking flavors

Learning how to combine Hardwood species to change their smokey flavoring Click To Tweet

Listen to the audio of this blog

There is misinformation out there that you may have been victim to. When cooking with hardwood, you may have been under the impression that only certain woods can be used with certain foods. For instance, hickory is reserved only for pork shoulder and brisket. Cherry for chicken, etc.

But that is hardly the truth.

Hardwood used for cooking must be viewed as another ingredient. As a key ingredient, it needs to be balanced with the food item and other ingredients used in preparation before grilling and smoking.

The intent today is to provide a guide on combinations of hardwood that work well for specific foods. Essentially, the ingredients of a rub, glaze, sauce or marinade will dictate what hardwoods will maximize all the flavors to become a finished masterpiece.

Hardwood Selection as a Compatible Ingredient

The goal when using hardwood is balance of the flavor outcome. You never want the hardwood to produce an ashy or burnt flavor. The essence of the wood should simply add to the beautiful flavor outcome for a memorable eating experience.

Here is SmokinLicious® rating on boldness of flavor for the hardwoods we offer:

When I design wood recipes for specific foods, I like to think about balancing out a medium or bolder flavor with one that is lighter. For lighter fare items like vegetables and fish, two wood combinations are generally used while longer cooked animal proteins can tolerate three hardwoods well.

In the chart that follows, reference is provided to various foods that benefit from exposure to the specified hardwoods. Use the color blocks indicated under each food group to guide you on combinations. Find the same color blocks in that group, and you have the balanced combination of hardwood. For instance, under Fruit, there are two red squares for an alder and cherry combination. Under the Fish column, there are 3 options: Alder and Maple represented by the pink square, Beech and Cherry represented by the orange square, and Ash and Maple represented by the gray square. These combinations are balanced by the essence they produce in the smoke vapor. Just use equal parts of each wood and remember, always start with a small quantity of hardwood as it does not take much to produce great flavor.

TIP: if you are using a spicy rub, default to combinations that includes mild to moderate flavor intensity. Using sweet ingredients, include a bolder hardwood flavor.

Our Guide

Experiment to find your favorite combinations of hardwood and soon you’ll have your own personal, detailed guide!

Do you have a favorite combination of hardwood? Leave us a comment and subscribe to get our latest tips, techniques, recipes and the science behind the fire and smoke, for all live fire cooking methods. That’s SmokinLicious!

Products discussed in this Blog:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

 

More Related reading on this subject- More Related reading on this subject of cooking & Grilling with wood

More Related reading on combining wood species and sizes to change their smoke profile and more!

Related Reading:

-COOKING WOOD WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

-WHAT WOOD TO USE FOR SMOKING: A PRIMER

-10 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE PURCHASING WOOD FOR COOKING, GRILLING & SMOKING

Dr. Dr. Smoke- Combining hardwoods by mixing different species and sizes increases your smoking results!

Dr. Smoke- Combining hardwoods by mixing different species and sizes increases your smoking results!