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Apr 27, 2005 11:38 PM

kosher salt

  • s

What is the advantage of using kosher salt rather than regular table salt? I see some recipes that call for it specifically- just curious.

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  1. Kosher salt is pure salt (NaCl). Table salt has anti-caking compounds in it and maybe iodine, if it's labelled as iodized salt. The grains of kosher salt are bigger than those of table salt. For my salt shakers I get "canning and pickling" salt, which is a small-grain pure salt. It does cake up, but a couple of sharp raps of the shaker on the table top will free it up.


    11 Replies
    1. re: Jim Washburn

      In Latin America, they put uncooked rice in salt shakers to absorb moisture, but I'm not convinced that actually works.

      1. re: Rob64

        Has always worked for me.

        1. re: Rob64

          They don't do it just in Latin America. I grew up in a beach community in Southern California and many people do it there. It works very well.

          1. re: farmersdaughter

            I guess it is fairly universal in areas of high humidity, they do it in So. Louisiana also. What I questioned is rice's ability to absorb water and act as a dessicant. This explanation that its main function is to break up the salt clumps as you shake it makes more sense and that anything else would work just as well. Good science fair project for someone...


          2. re: Rob64

            I've lived in so. jersey near the beach and for years we've put rice in the salt in the summer because of the high humidity, It's something I learned from my mother & grandparents doing it and I've even seen it done in area restaurants along the shore.

          3. re: Jim Washburn

            "Table salt has anti-caking compounds in it"

            Morton's Kosher salt has those anti-caking compounds in it, if I'm not mistaken. Diamond Crystal, which is far superior in texture does not.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Morton's kosher salt contains yellow prussiate of soda (whatever that is), and Morton's table salt contains calcium silicate. I don't have any Diamond kosher, so can't say if HaagezDazs is right about it not containing anti-caking agents. In any case, it seems kosher does not mean pure. Morton's does have the kosher for passover (u) seal, so I doubt Karl S's comment below about only Diamond being truly kosher is correct.

              The shapes of the crystals of the two brands are indeed different. I happen to prefer Morton's, which as Professor Salt notes, stick to food better, and to me, seem to deliver the salty taste a smoothly than Diamond, which is just to close to rock salt for my taste. For soups and sauces, either is fine (or table salt for that matter).

              1. re: Zeldog

                "Diamond, which is just to close to rock salt"

                Are you sure you're talking about Diamond Crystal Kosher? Morton's salt unequivocally has bigger grains that Diamond Crystal, so if we're comparing these to rock salt, which really isn't fair to either of them, Morton's will be closer simply because the grain size is larger.

                1. re: HaagenDazs

                  Diamond Crystal undeniably has larger crystals than Morton's.

                  Check out any salt website on this.

                  1. re: C. Hamster

                    I have to disagree. I'm not up on all the salt-related websites these days but I can say from prior experience that the Morton's has larger, "fish scale-like" grains while Diamond Crystal has smaller, more irregular, but coarser grains. This makes D.C. a little more fluffy.

                    I think we might be confusing/combining the terms coarse and crystal?

                2. re: Zeldog

                  I do have a box on Diamond Crystal on my shelves and the only ingredient listed is: salt. No additives.

                  I much prefer it to Morton's, not only because it doesn't contain additives (to prevent clumping, I believe), but it dissolves more quickly, dispersing more evenly throughout whatever it's added to, making it a much better choice (for me) for brining in particular, but for soups and stews as well.

                  I can't recall now where I read it, or even whether it was a taste test or just a chef's recommendation, but Diamond Crystal was the preferred brand--perhaps because of the additives in Morton's.

                  ETA: Ah. Just found the reference. It was in Rick Moonen's "Fish Without a Doubt." He says, ". . . I think Diamond Crystal has the most consistent quality." FWIW

            2. p
              Professor Salt

              Kosher has more of a flake shaped crystal, rather than cube shaped like regular table salt. Because of this, it sticks to foods better than regular salt.

              1. Kosher salt also dissolves better than table salt.

                Btw, you have to adjust quantities if substituting table salt for kosher in a recipe. Diamond Crystal kosher is half as salty per unit of volume as table salt; Morton's kosher is 2/3 as salty.

                10 Replies
                1. re: Karl S

                  Is the comparable saltiness of Diamond vs. Morton's Kosher your own observation or is it really listed somewhere? Just asking because in my experience Morton's was 'saltier' that Diamond.

                  I always use to buy Diamond but then they stopped making the boxes with the metal pour spout I switched to Morton's and thought that, by volume, Morton's was saltier.

                  1. re: panapet

                    I've seen it in a number of cookbooks.

                    1. re: Karl S.

                      Not trying to pick a fight but I think you might have it turned 'round. I just googled and 2 barbecue rub recipes say to use less salt if using Morton's. 1/2 cup Diamond = 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoon Morton's.

                      1. re: panapet

                        Yes, since Morton's is 2/3 as salty as table salt, and Diamond is 1/2 as salty, you'd use more of the latter and less of the former.

                    2. re: panapet

                      Also, normally "kosher salt" unmodified is supposed to be understood to refer to Diamond rather than Morton, or so I have read.

                      1. re: Karl S.

                        I've never heard that - and certainly the Morton's is labeled kosher. Though strictly speaking, they should both be called kosherING salt, not kosher salt.

                    3. re: Karl S

                      The only way to be more salty would be if the Diamond crystals are larger than the Mortons. In an equal volume (say a tablespoon) table salt has smaller crystals so there will be more NaCl and less air. The larger crystals of kosher salt mean less NaCl and more air since they won't pack as tightly. If you measure by weight than there would be no difference.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        No. It's all equally salty.

                        What is different is the size of the crystals.

                        More table salt will fit into a teaspoon than kosher salt. So a cup of water with a teaspoon of table salt dissolved in it will taste saltier than a cup with a teaspoon of kosher salt.

                        But it's not because table salt is saltier.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          I think you're misreading Karl's comment - he didn't say kosher salt was less salty, he said it was less salty "per unit of volume." You're both in agreement.

                          1. re: BobB

                            I was responding to panapet, actually.

                      2. Can you get iodized kosher salt? I've read somewhere that Iodine is an important nutrient and the only way you can get it is to use iodized salt. Is that true?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: debeadgirl

                          Yes, Iodine is an important nutrient. In the old days, children in continental areas (far from the ocean) got goiters from Iodine deficiency. No, Iodized salt is not the only place to get Iodine. Sea fish or shell fish are one easy source.

                          I use only Diamond Kosher salt at home. Since I salt to taste, I don't really bother to increase in recipes (like Cook's Illustrated) that call for table salt, unless I am baking, although since I tend to use salted butter rather than unsalted, I don't usually have to increase even when I measure.

                          1. re: debeadgirl

                            There are many sources for iodine minerals. Among them, as I understand it, are seaweed (kelp) and products made from or with seaweed, milk, eggs, seafood, fruits, nuts, spinach and other vegetables. From what I've read, the typical adult needs about 0.0000052 ounces of iodine per day. That ain't much and because we eat a well balanced diet I don't worry about trying to get iodine from salt. As dkenworthy put it, a lack of iodine was a health issue in the first part of the 20th century - I wouldn't worry about it today unless my physician found an iodine deficiency in a routine blood test.

                            1. re: debeadgirl

                              I use regular iodized salt on the table, but kosher or sea salt for cooking. That way I get some iodine, but I am not worried about it. As posters have said, it was a problem many years ago. I read not to long ago that it is a severe problem in some 3rd world countries and somebody (can't remember who) is trying to get charities to get it to them.

                              1. re: debeadgirl

                                All you have to do to make sure is buy a container of Iodized, it's cheap, and throw a couple tablespoons into your pasta water, which should be briny anyway. That dose should take care of you for awhile.

                                1. re: MsDiPesto

                                  That's what I do - use Diamond Kosher for direct salting of foods (whether in cooking or at the table) but use standard iodized for salting pasta water and the like, just to be sure I get a little iodine in my diet.