Many cooking enthusiasts the world over have taken to kosher salt because they say it has a pure, salty taste, which helps enhance the flavor of the food. So what exactly is kosher salt? Let’s find out.
What is Kosher Salt?
Kosher salt is a coarsely grained edible salt, which does not contain iodine. However, it may contain anti-caking agents to prevent clumping of the salt crystals. The salt is made by rolling the salt crystals into large flakes; however, the final evaporation process determines whether it has a flat shape or a hollow pyramid-like crystal structure. This shape is what gives the salt a grainy texture as compared to table salt. It has a pure and not-so-intense salty taste and gives a slight crunch when sprinkled on foods. It also dissolves and blends easily with other spices, making it a preferred choice for spice rubs, brines, and marinades.
The term ‘kosher’ comes from the Jewish practice of dry-brining meats called koshering or ‘kashering’ in keeping with the religious laws of Judaism. Due to its coarse texture, kosher salt helps draw out moisture from the meat. There are several brands available in the market, with some being kosher-certified by a religious body.
Kosher Salt Vs Sea Salt Vs Table Salt
How would you know which salt is the right one for you? Here are the main differences between the three varieties of salt.
Size of the salt crystals: The most striking difference between kosher salt, sea salt, and regular iodized table salt is the salt grain size. Kosher salt has a larger grain size as compared to table salt, and you can pick the grains with your fingers. Sea salt, on the other hand, is the coarsest and not as free-flowing as kosher salt or table salt.
Taste: In terms of saltiness, sea salt ranks the highest. Kosher salt has a less intense salty flavor than table salt. So if you have just switched to kosher salt, you may find your dish “under-salted” and it may take a few times till you get your seasoning right. Table salt usually contains iodine and other chemicals and has a sharp, salty, synthetic taste.
Best suited for: All three varieties of salt can be used for cooking. Kosher salt is preferred over table salt for brining, pickling, and in marinades. It is also used to rim margarita glasses. It may not be the best salt for baking; however, it can give a wonderful new flavor when it is sprinkled on top of baked dishes such as salted caramel tarts or garlic bread knots. Sea salt can be used in cooking but it does not dissolve as easily as the other two salts.
Healthy or not: A 2017 animal study published in the Food & Nutrition Research journal revealed that sea salt caused less hypertension than refined salt and it also had a lesser impact on the heart and kidneys. However, the American Heart Association says that it is better to check the nutrition labels of the salt you buy and to check the sodium content. It also states that some types of sea salt and kosher salt may contain less sodium per teaspoon than table salt as their grains are bigger.
So if you trying to choose the best salt for health reasons, it is best to keep a tab on the amount of salt you use in your foods. As part of a healthy daily diet, it is best to consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium every day according to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Kosher Salt Substitute
Salt varieties have different tastes, textures, and dissolving capacity. So if you are looking for a good kosher salt substitute, you may have to do a few trial and errors till you hit upon the right amount of seasoning.
- Table salt: As a general cooking guideline, you can substitute 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of table salt for 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
- Sea salt: If you are using sea salt, you can use a 1:1 ratio but it depends on the size of the salt grains. It is best to use according to taste.
- Pickling salt: For pickling and brining purposes, pickling salt is the best substitute for kosher salt. You can use 11/4 teaspoon of pickling salt for 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. It can also be used for meat brines.