Sea Salt Like gourmet salt, sea salt is produced from solar heating or thermal evaporation of seawater. Since sea salt is less purified and refined than table salt, it is off‐colored (sometimes gray) with large pyramid‐shaped crystals with sharp edges. Because of the size and shape of the flakes and its expense, sea salt is best used to stick to the surface of a prepared food; its delicate structure will dissolve quickly in the mouth, providing a crunchy, salty sensation. However, there is little evidence to support that sea salt tastes differently or is healthier than other salts. Why might there be a health benefit?
The idea is that there is less sodium per tablespoon in sea salt relative to table salt, due to the presence of potassium and calcium salts. However, both table and sea salts contain about 40% sodium by weight. Moreover, the additional minerals found in sea salt are often included in our diet from other sources. The true benefit of sea salt is the quick dissolving, crunchy mouthfeel that is present when the salt is used as a finishing salt for a dish, added immediately prior to serving. While some argue that salt is a spice, it is not. Salt, herbs, and spices are all seasonings. However, herbs and spices are the products of plants (and you know from our discussion about salt that salt definitely does not come from plants).
Simply defined, herbs are the leaves of a plant, while spices are harvested from the rest of the plant (i.e., the root, stem, bark, seed, or plant fruits). Some plants, like cilantro and dill, produce both spices and herbs, while others like basil produce herbs or spices, respectively. In general, herbs are grown in more temperate climates, while spices grow in warmer or tropical zones.