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What is Kosher Salt?

Many chefs prefer to cook with kosher salt because of its large grain and pure taste.
Kosher salt is often used for margaritas.
Kosher salt and table salt are often used interchangeably, but table salt has a much more precise shape than kosher salt.
Kosher salt lacks additives like iodine.
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Kosher salt, also sold as rock salt, is a type of coarse salt that is usually made without additives. The salt itself is not necessarily kosher, but takes its name from the curing process used on kosher meats. It is ideal for certain cooking projects and is preferred to table salt by many professional chefs because it has a more mild flavor, and the flaky crystalline structure of the salt helps it adhere to a variety of surfaces, from fish to margarita glasses.

Like all salts, this variety is a form of sodium chloride. It can be extracted from seawater by a direct evaporation process, or it can be mined from salt deposits under the Earth's crust. Table salt is heavily refined so that it has a precise square shape, and iodine is usually added during the refining process. Kosher salt is allowed to remain a more coarse-grained salt, meaning that the structure under a microscope looks like a series of cubes stacked on top of each other, rather than a single grain.

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This type of salt is ideal for curing meats, because the many facets of the salt help to draw the liquid out of fresh meat. According to Jewish dietary laws, called kashrut, blood cannot be consumed, even in small amounts. Meat with blood in it will not be approved for Jewish consumption by a rabbi and cannot carry a kosher label. Kosher slaughterhouses use salt to extract all of the blood from their meat to ensure that the meat will comply with dietary laws. Many non-kosher slaughterhouses use it in their curing process as well, because the presence of blood can adversely affect the flavor of meat.

Because kosher salt is not heavily refined or treated with iodine, it has a flavor that many chefs consider to be more pure. For this reason, it is favored for seasoning in professional kitchens. The coarse grain also allows chefs to measure out pinches with ease. Because of the large grain, this salt is not well suited to baking or table service, when fine grained salts are more appropriate.

In addition to being used for seasoning, kosher salt is used to create salt crusts on baked fish, to create a salty rim on margarita glasses, and to rub meats along with other spices before cooking. It is also used in pickling because the lack of iodine reduces the risk of discoloration and cloudiness. Most professional kitchens keep a stock of this salt in small dishes around so that it can be quickly and easily added to foods.

Kosher salt is readily available in most stores and restaurant supply houses. Generally, the salt is comparable in cost to other varieties. A number of websites have information on how to use it for curious cooks interested in experimenting with this seasoning option.

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anon344959
Post 22

Wal-mart has Kosher salt and it it inexpensive. Even the regular grocery stores have it. Don't get it where it will cost more. It is better than table salt and I will continue to use it with sea salt. Thanks for the info. I heard that table salt contains sand and glass (in chemical names of course).

anon157132
Post 19

windy482 - You overpaid for the kosher salt, but it may be the store that is overcharging. I find it at my local Ralphs for around $3, although I don't remember the exact size, it is quite a large box.

anon154747
Post 18

by pulverizing additive free rock salt or kosher salt in the blender, you would be able to use kosher salt in your typical salt shaker.

anon130679
Post 17

The crystals of kosher salt are irregular in shape, where partial grains are milled, hence having a multi-faceted surface due to the rough milling of the salt.

That gives additional surface area to go with the increased size of the granule of salt.

It's pretty cheap in an average grocery store, so get some and a magnifying glass and see for yourself.

The larger granules make for slower dissolution of the salt as well.

anon75133
Post 16

Is there any difference between "Natural Salt" and "Kosher Salt" ?

anon73712
Post 14

@anon60101: indeed anon54364 is right. If kosher salt has larger grains then it has less surface area. This is simple math. An individual grain will have larger surface of course, but we don't measure salt in grains but mass. This is what counts when you cook.

But it's easy to see even without thinking about math too much: kosher salt, as described here, consists of grains of small NaCl cubes stick together, while plain salt consists of these same cubes. Now the surface where the cubes stick together is 'lost'. It's inside, not outside. That's it. It has less surface, period. (On the other hand salt will dissolve in water pretty quickly, so it shouldn't make a difference anyway.)

anon68981
Post 13

I like to use gray Celtic sea salt. Since this is also a "rock salt" with little refining and nothing added would it be the same as kosher salt?

anon61415
Post 12

anon34101 posts: "If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt...how much would I use of kosher salt? I realize not for baking or table."

Kosher salt can be used for baking if there is enough liquid to dissolve the salt. And there is no reason you could not use kosher salt at the table.

Most kosher salt containers contain a conversion guide for using kosher salt instead of table salt. If no conversion guide is handy, try using twice as much kosher salt as table salt. Better still, if you can, use weight measure instead. Five grams of kosher salt is the same as five grams of table salt.

anon60882
Post 11

so can anyone tell me if i can use kosher salt to salt my food or is it just for cooking or curing meat?

anon60101
Post 9

anon54364, don't be silly. Wisegeek are correct - I'm sure there's no law for what salt type/brand to use - this kind just works best, in practice.

elliemae
Post 8

I have used Kosher salt for about five years. I find it to be "sweeter" and more subtle than table salt. You can never get the table salt taste from Kosher salt. Kosher salt will always taste "sweeter" and "cleaner". It's like comparing spring water to well water. It's just different. I found everything posted here about the advantages of Kosher salt to be true in my experience.

anon55920
Post 6

kosher salt to me is really nasty and no one should eat it.

anon54364
Post 5

"Kosher salt is ideal for curing meats, because the many faces of the salt help to draw blood out of fresh meat. According to Jewish dietary laws, called Kashrut, blood cannot be consumed, even in small amounts. Meat with blood in it will not be approved for Jewish consumption by a rabbi and cannot carry a Kosher label. Kosher slaughterhouses use Kosher salt to extract all of the blood from their meat to ensure that the meat will comply with Kashrut. Many non-Kosher slaughterhouses use Kosher salt in their curing process as well, because the presence of blood can adversely affect the flavor of meat."

Individual "non Kosher" salt crystals have more surface area than crystals that are stuck together. Individual crystals (non Kosher) thus will extract more of whatever (including what the Kashrut calls "blood") than Kosher salt. this is just a religious tradition, and totally backward from a chemical physics point of view. It should not be stated as a fact on any site.

anon34101
Post 4

If a recipe calls for a teaspoon of salt...how much would I use of kosher salt? I realize not for baking or table.

windy482
Post 3

I have some coarse Kosher salt - that I bought in a health food store and was expensive - $9.95/lb - and find it to be VERY salty - I could never rim a glass with it - is it different from some other Kosher salts that people actually put at the table? It isn't flaky at all - just crystals. Thanks

sputnik
Post 2

There are so many varieties of salts these days that one can choose and use different salt for different dishes. Kosher salt is used by some chefs next to the stove top, while cooking soups, stews, and adding it to pasta water.

For the table, there are many expensive sea salts for those who do not mind spending the money and think the food tastes better.

tdwb7476
Post 1

I much prefer kosher salt to regular table salt. And while you can't use kosher salt in your typical salt shaker because the grains are too big, I still serve it on the table in a small bowl (it's actually a small soy sauce bowl). To be clean, you just use your butter knife to scoop out a pinch of salt at a time. Or if it's just family, we just use our hands!

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