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What is Kosher Salt, and why all the Hype?

posted in Kitchen Basics, Spices and Seasonings by Emily Chapelle

There are many kinds of salts available in specialty shops around the world.

However, when you go to the grocery store, you’re likely to have a choice of two: ordinary table salt or kosher salt.

Kosher salt is different in two key ways from table salt: (a) it has larger, irregular crystals with lots of surface area, and (b) it does not contain additives (like iodine) that table salt usually has.

Table Salt and Kosher Salt

Very few recipes specifically call for kosher salt. For those that do, by all means use that. However, you should always use table salt for baking as the recipes require more precise measuring and a substitution would throw the flavor off.

Kosher salt is often recommended by TV chefs because it has a less intense and more pure, salty taste and because it’s easier to pick up the crystals and toss them into the pot!

(By the way, kosher salt is so called because of its role in the process for preparing foods such as meats according to the Jewish tradition. Because it has so much surface area and doesn’t dissolve as quickly as table salt, it can be sprinkled on meat to draw out all extractable blood.)

Kosher salt is great on the rims of margarita glasses. It is the perfect salt to sprinkle on your homemade pretzels or grilled artichokes.

Measuring

If you’d like to use it instead of table salt, keep in mind that (because of the larger grains) measuring kosher salt is a little less precise than measuring table salt. Also, you should note that it takes more of it to reach the same level of saltiness, since the crystals are bigger. Usually, people use a ratio of 1.5:1 or 2:1 for kosher salt to table salt. This can differ between brands, so be sure to check the side of the box!

Storing

It’s best to keep kosher salt in a jar or in a salt pig next to the stove; you’ll find that its crystals are too big for a salt shaker. On the table, just keep some in a small, open container or salt cellar.

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3 Comments

Andrea said:

I read recently that many people are actually deficient in iodine and we should eat more table salt as it has iodine in it.

Andy said:

Great comparison. I don’t usually think about which one I am using and which I should be using. Any opinion on those big sea salt flakes that tv chefs use? I would guess they are not worth the money, but I’ve never tried them.

Kathy Maister said:

Gourmet salts can get really expensive. For the beginner cook, unless you have developed a really refined palate, stick with table salt or kosher salt. Some fancy sea salts impart a very distinct flavor, which may taste quite different from what you were expecting it to taste like!