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Can I brine without kosher salt?

I'm going to brine 4 cornish hens today. The recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of kosher salt. Can I use regular table salt or do I need to go out and buy kosher? I'm feeling lazy. Thanks!

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  1. Yes, you can but if the recipe says 6T of kosher, use 4T of table salt.

    But that doesn't seem like nearly enough salt for 4 cgh's .... How much water is called for?

    1. The brine is supposed to be 2 quarts water, 6T kosher salt, 4T black peppercorns, 8 sprigs of thyme, 12 cloves garlic and 2 T sugar. I've never tried it before, as I guess you can tell. Now that you mention it, I'm not sure 2 quarts of water is enough, either. Hmmm.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Glencora

        Thta recipe is good actually. It's 1/2 cup of kosher salt to 1/2 gallon water. The standard brine ratio is 1 cup kosher salt to 1 gallon water. You might need more brine though -- just double it.

        Don't cut the salt in half, if using table. The generally accepted ratio is 1 1/2 cups kosher = 1 cup table.

        It doesn't matter one bit if you use kosher or table salt. They are both 99.99% sodium chloride. Kosher salt doesn't make brine any better, but some people claim it's easier to dissolve.

        More brine info here:http://www.cooksillustrated.com/turke...

      2. Yeah,that is kind of like a salty puddle. What if you put it all in a big ziplock?? I still think you might need to double it, although I have always been unsure if it will make it more salty if the ratio to salt:water is the same.

        1. use half the amount of table salt than you would kosher. but kosher really is better, especially Diamond kosher. I would double or triple the recipe, it doesn't sound like enough brine.

          1. Here are two good resources for describing the differences among salts, and why kosher salt works "better" for brining.

            http://new.cbbqa.com/articles/Salt/Sa...

            http://www.foodsubs.com/Salt.html

            And remember to read the nutritional label on your salt. Most salt contains anti-caking agents. Salt that contains iodine (for nutritional purposes) may impart a bitter taste to baked goods and other cooked foods.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Non Cognomina

              I agree, that is why I recommend Diamond Kosher, which does not contain anything but salt.

              1. re: Non Cognomina

                Sorry but neither of those links provides any evidence that kosher salt is "better" for brining. Kosher salt crystals absorbs more water? Why does that make it better?

                The scant amount of anticaking agent and/or iodine contained in table salt will be inperceptable in a brine that also contains flavoring agents, as the OP's does.

                The only meaningful difference is in the crystal size, meaning that you need less table salt if the recipe calls for kosher.

                JK Grence (below) provides the correct proportions.

                Although I only use kosher salt, if you don't have any, that's fine. I sure hope Glencora didn't run out and buy some only for the brine recipe.

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  The main reason to reach for kosher salt is that it's easier to dissolve it.

              2. If the recipe uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt, use half as much table salt. If it's Morton kosher salt, use 3/4 as much. If they didn't specify, use 2/3 as much table salt as you would kosher salt and you'll be fine.

                1. Thanks for the replies. I used the table salt, about 2/3 as much, and I doubled the recipe. I cooked the hens in the oven for 45min. They looked great. Then I put on a rub of brown sugar, molasses and paprika. The recipe said to broil them for five minutes. I should have questioned that, but the salad distracted me. Three minutes later...smoke. Those birdies were black. After I scraped off the skin, the meat was still good, very garlicky. Still, I felt stupid. The recipe was in my got-to-try-sometime file and I can't remember which magazine it came from. Oh well, at least the dinner was "just" for family.

                  1. If your table salt is iodized, I wouldn't use it for brining, since it has such an odd taste.

                    1. I never remember ratios and hate to waste time with measuring cups, I just taste the brine.