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Artisan Finishing Salts Adds Spice Of Life

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) - There used to be a time when asking for a salt shaker meant the chef didn't add enough flavor.

Today, some cooks choose to leave the seasoning unfinished in the kitchen to allow you to put the final touch on yourself using artisan finishing salts.

Pink Himalayan, Tahitain Black, Maldon and sea salt. These are just a few of the season options foodie Melanie Birkholz uses to spice things up a little in her kitchen.

"I also use Alderwood salt which is a smoked salt, which is wonderful for dishes that you need a smoky flavor like shredded pork or maybe fajitas," said Birkholz, who writes a blog at

These premium options aren't exclusively for self-proclaimed foodies like Melanie. Mark Bitterman has literally written a book on salt and owns a store which specializes in artisan options.

"We sell about 120 different kinds of salt from all over the world and really there are thousands and thousands of different types," said Bitterman.

They're popping up in specialty shops, online and in local markets. More and more restaurants are now starting to use them as are at-home chefs. According to Mintel, there was a 22-percent increase in salt products introduced to the global marketplace in 2014 compared to the year before.

"It's really become mainstream. There's popular brands of ice cream, popular national coffee chains. They're all using specialty salts in many of their common products," said Bitterman.

Author and registered dietician Lourdes Castro said with artisan salts you'll see a difference in textures, colors, size and shape.

"Fleur de sel is considered the Rolls Royce, or the caviar of all salts," said Castro.

When it comes to cost, the specialty salts come at a price. Castro said some may run up to as much as $15 an ounce. But, as she points out, you'll need less.

"It's something that's an affordable luxury," said Castro.

And about the ongoing concerns about too much salt in our diet?

"The majority of sodium intake isn't coming from a salt shaker. It's actually coming from processed foods, so if people are using a little bit more premium sea salt to put on top of their fresh salads, or their fresh vegetables, then it's actually a healthy option," said Castro.

Castro adds that the purity of the salt is what determines its different taste and intensity, so you won't want to use too much when flavoring meals.

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