Is Salt Just Salt?

Not when you’re using salt with cheese and other dairy products according to Rex Infanger who led a Culture Workshop for the Guild in March.

As part of the workshop Mr. Infanger tasted cheeses that some of the workshop participants brought in to share, and he offered his feedback. On one cheese, while he praised it’s texture and overall appearance, he noted a slight “medicinal” flavor to the cheese which he couldn’t place at first until the cheese maker said that they dry salted the wheel with SEA SALT. “Ah,” Infanger nodded. “Any salt with trace amounts of iron in it, like SEA SALT, can produce an off flavor that is the result of fat oxidation reaction with the iron. Infanger recommended using plain salt for all cheese, avoiding all the gourmet salts that contain additional trace minerals, usually iron.

Infanger also talked about the grain type of salt to use for dry salting, and that there were three types to choose from: crystal salt (like table salt), flake salt (like Kosher salt), and Alberger salt which is “cup shaped” and did not dissolve as quickly as crystal or flake salt on the surface of a cheese wheel. He said that many cheese makers prefer the Alberger salt for dry salting because it reduced the risk of introducing too much salt to the surface of fresh curds that it creates a hard seal on the exterior of the wheel preventing salt from quickly reaching the center of the wheel. However, Infanger said that the best choice of salt grain was based on the make process and the cheese maker preference through their own experimentation.

(Alberger salt is typically available through Cargill and distributed in bulk by many food service supply companies — it comes in many sizes of grains, as well as in many mixtures with and without iodine, anti-caking agents, and/or other additives which cheese makers tend to avoid. Diamond Crystal brand would be one example of it in the grocery store, although it may only be available in an iodized version.)

Posted in Learning.

4 Comments

  1. I had been told (before Rex) to avoid salts with anti-caking agents, as well as Iodized salts. Therefore I’ve never used them for that reason.

  2. thanks for the info. i’ve always hated the mortons kosher and only used it in a bind. to me it imparts no flavor to the cheese. the mortons canning is great.

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