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Why Kosher Salt is the Only Salt You Ever Need

Why Kosher Salt is the Only Salt You Ever Need



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If there’s only one salt in your kitchen, it should be kosher salt

Kosher salt should be at the top of your kitchen staples list.

Restaurant Kitchen Staple. Kosher salt (named for its ability to cure meats quickly, an important step in the koshering process) is the standard salt of choice in professional kitchens.


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No Iodine. Most kosher salt is not iodized, which means it is good for people who get enough iodine in their diet and for those who want to avoid iodine in their diet.


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Less Sodium. On the other hand, kosher salt is created to be relatively coarse. This means that 1 tablespoon of table salt has about twice the sodium of 1 tablespoon of kosher salt.


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Easier to Control Seasoning. For the same reason that they always cook with unsalted butter (so that they’re better able to control their seasoning), professional chefs choose kosher salt because it’s coarser than table salt, which makes picking up a pinch of the stuff easier. In other words, it allows them to better control just how salty their food is.


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Harder to Over-Season. The ability to control your seasoning (and tasting in between additions of salt!) makes it harder to over-season your food.


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Julie Ruggirello is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @TDMRecipeEditor.


Many recipes--especially those originating from professional chefs--call for the use of kosher salt. Time and again I&aposve watched amateur home cooks use regular table salt without knowing there is a difference. And what a difference the right salt makes.

Kosher salt is a coarse grained salt that contains no additives. It&aposs not kosher, per se, but takes its name from the curing process used to make kosher meats. Kosher salt is nutritionally no different from table salt–they&aposre both sodium chloride (NaCl) and both are mined from either seawater or inland deposits from ancient oceans. However, there are several key differences:

  1. Kosher salt has a larger grain size than table salt.
  2. The irregular, larger grains don&apost fully dissolve in liquid.
  3. Most table salt contains additives.

These first two differences are extremely important to cooking.


Why Kosher Salt?

What is the difference between kosher salt and 'regular' salt?

Why is it better to cook with kosher salt?

Is this an American thing? I live in the UK and I only ever hear Americans talking about kosher salt. Never seen it in the supermarket here or heard about it in UK cooking shows / videos / recipe books.

Main reason is because it's more pinchable than table or rock salt. I'm in the UK too and struggle to find it in supermarkets but it is around in specialty/gourmet food stores and you can buy it by the kilo on Amazon.

I tend to use maldon salt, which is easier to find in regular shops. It comes in flakes which are easier to pinch and sprinkle by hand.

You have solved the mystery. Thanks mate!

The reason kosher salt exists is because when cooking meat in Jewish tradition all the "blood" or myoglobin needs to be removed. Blood is not kosher. The larger crystals draw out the surface blood better than smaller ones due to increased surface area. This makes it great for dry brines or seasoning meats before cooking to get a nice crust.
Also the larger crystals make for a finer control on salting things as an equal volume weighs less. So a pinch of just regular salt is more than a pinch of kosher. Overall I just love kosher salt. I use Diamond crystal. Edit: diamond crystal, not Dixie.


Why kosher salt?

I love Alton Brown & Good Eats, and enjoy learning what I can. However I still don't understand why he goes for kosher salt whenever he needs salt in a recipe. What qualities does kosher salt have over regular salt? Why should I stock this in my pantry?

Work on terms first. all salt is salt, there is no "regular salt." There are lots of types, such as table salt (iodized salt), kosher salt, sea salt, "real salt". there's also a salt that is sun dried, stay away from that (birds crap on the salt since it's dried in the sun outdoors). There are a bunch of more types.

Each type has a slightly different taste or feel to it. Some people like kosher because of the feel of the flakes. It's easy to grab and know exactly how much you have without it slipping out of your fingers. Each salt also has a different taste to it. Some have a more saline or briny taste, some do taste a little metallic, and some are just stronger.

Iodizes salt is preferred for baking, I think partly because the measurements in recipes fit that type of salt, and it also dissolves faster.

Popcorn salt is good for sticking to food last minute. Fried some clams and the breading was undersalted, but now the clams have dried and salt will bounce off? Popcorn salt will stay on, but you don't need much at all. Pringles actually have a specific shape of salt, I think it's like a pyramid if I'm not mistaken. It dissolves quickly and makes you wanting more.

It's all personal preference. I like kosher salt because I can easily grab it out of a bowl because of the size. I also like the taste better than iodized table salt. I like sea salt, too, but still prefer kosher.


Testing Your Brine

Note the use of the raw egg to ensure that you have reached the correct saturation. If it floats and about a 2cm circle is above the surface, then the brine is at about 18% saturation. Make sure you add a Tablespoon of white vinegar and a teaspoon of calcium chloride to balance the pH to approx 5.3. This ensures that your cheese will not become slimy during brining due to calcium ion exchange between the brine and the cheese. You may have to use pH testing paper to measure the pH of your brine.


Let's Get Cooking!

To sum things up for you, salt tenderizes meat, adds flavor thanks to various chemical processes. To get the most out of your salt, you should consider salting steak a full 24 hours before cooking.

We hope, with this information in tow, you'll be able to cook a juicy, perfectly seared steak for your next date night or family gathering. Of course, salting steak is only half the battle.

You still need good quality meat. If you're unhappy with your grocery store's offerings, you should check out our steak offerings.


Sea Salt

Irinia Vodneva / Getty Images

The sea is the main source of the world's salt, of course, but there are also underground salt deposits that are mined to produce salt for food. These underground deposits, however, were created millennia ago by seas that aren't there anymore. Even salt deposits in the Himalayan mountain range date from a time when those lands were underwater—millions of years before the mountains themselves were formed.

In any case, products labeled "sea salt" are produced by evaporating seawater. Different varieties are labeled according to where they are produced, each with its own characteristics and flavors from trace elements. Depending on these components, as well as how it's produced, sea salts can take the form of flakes, fine crystals, or coarse crystals, and exhibit a range of colors from local minerals and even algae.

Because of these variances in flavor, as well as texture, converting between sea salt and other salts in recipes can be unreliable. Sea salt, therefore, is generally better used as a garnish or condiment than as the main source of seasoning in a dish.

One particular type of sea salt, known as fleur de sel, is worth noting. Harvested from shallow pools in the French coastal region of Brittany, fleur de sel only forms in specific weather conditions and must be harvested by hand. Consequently, it is rare and expensive, costing upwards of $30 per pound, and used exclusively as a garnish or condiment.


Iodized Salt

Also known as table salt, Eubanks says that iodized salt usually contains anti-clumping agents that give it a distinctive, slightly metallic taste—one that most professional cooks do not enjoy. It's also highly processed and has a weaker salinity and flavor, so it definitely isn't the best option to cook with. If you're at a restaurant and need to add a bit of table salt to your food, it definitely won't hurt, but in general, it's best to stick with something else in the kitchen. (If you're baking something that calls for salt and the recipe doesn't specify, iodized salt will be fine—you're likely using a small amount, and most people aren't going to be able to detect the slight taste difference when it's baked into a sweet and flavorful cookie anyway.)


Why Is Kosher Salt Called “Kosher” Salt?

Kosher salt, like most mass-produced salts, does also happen to be kosher—that’s to say, it contains no additives and has been certified as kosher by a rabbi or an authorized organization. (To debunk one common myth, kosher foods do not receive a rabbi’s blessing.) Sometimes small producers don’t bother having their products certified. Salts that have been certified kosher are marked as such with a circled K or U on the label.

Kosher salt has a coarse texture, which makes it easier to gauge and control how much you’re using. That makes it more popular with chefs than table salt. Some say it has a cleaner taste than table salt. And those large crystals sure do perch up well on a margarita glass.

But bakers beware: Kosher salt weighs at least 26 percent less by volume than table salt. That means if you use a 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt in a recipe calling for 1/4 teaspoon of table salt, you’re adding too little. And different brands of kosher salt have different-size flakes, says Susan Reid, editor of The Baking Sheet newsletter from King Arthur Flour. That makes it hard to come up with an absolute rule of thumb for substituting kosher salt for table salt in recipes. Reid recommends this method: When a recipe calls for a teaspoon of table salt (or 1/4 or 1/2, etc.), use a rounded teaspoon (or 1/4 or 1/2, etc.) of kosher salt. The CHOW test kitchen, which always uses Diamond brand kosher salt, follows a 1-to-2 ratio of table to kosher salt.


Where Kosher Salt Comes from & Why It’s Called Kosher

My pantry always has three kinds of salt: fine table salt, kosher salt, and a super-flaky salt like Maldon. I use all three in different ways, depending on what I’m cooking or how I’m seasoning something. When people see my kosher salt, I usually get asked this question: Just what is kosher salt, and why do I have it if I don’t cook kosher?

How Kosher Salt Is Made

Salt is a naturally occurring substance that is harvested from either seawater or rock-salt deposits in salt mines. To produce salt, the water must be evaporated from seawater or brine made by pumping water into the rock deposits. After the water is gone, the remaining salt crystals can be processed in many different ways and are sometimes treated with anti-caking additives.

Kosher salt is a coarse-grained salt made from the salt crystals. It is usually not iodized, but some brands may contain an anti-caking agent. The evaporation process determines the salt’s final shape, so kosher salt can be flat or pyramidal in structure depending on the brand. The top two brands are Morton and Diamond Crystal: Morton’s is much coarser than table salt, but Diamond Crystal is even coarser than Morton.

How salt is harvested and made

How Kosher Salt Got Its Name

Any salt can be kosher if it’s produced under kosher supervision, but it’s not because of Jewish dietary guidelines that kosher salt got its name. In fact, something labeled “kosher salt” can actually not be kosher at all!

Kosher salt’s original purpose was really to kosher meat, meaning to remove the blood from meat, so it’s really koshering salt. Certain salt companies labeled the boxes of this coarse salt kosher salt rather than koshering salt, and the name stuck.

When to Use Kosher Salt

Because kosher salt varies in shape and size across different brands, it doesn’t always measure out consistently. (This is why only table salt is used in recipes here on The Kitchn, unless specified differently, since it measures out much more consistently.) In recipes where the kosher salt brand isn’t specified, use your judgment if it seems like it’s calling for a lot of salt and err on the side of less in the beginning.

The best usage of kosher salt is when you’re seasoning food with your hands, especially meat and vegetables before cooking. You can easily pick up pinches with your fingers, and since they don’t dissolve immediately, you can visually see where you’ve sprinkled it and determine if it’s even or if you need to do more. I also like to keep kosher salt out on the dinner table since it’s easy to pick up a small amount to season my cooked food.

Kosher salt is also great to use when a recipe specifies “coarse salt.” However, many bakers tend to shy away from kosher salt and call for table salt instead because they feel that it dissolves more quickly and evenly into baked goods.