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Kosher salt - what is it?

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I often see this as an ingredient but can someone please tell me what it actually is.

It's not something I've ever come across (at least not by that name). I've even asked at my nearby Jewish grocers (which obviously has many products approved by the Beth Din) but got no more than a blank look.

I presume it must be something different from "ordinary" salt but I can't think what it might be.

TIA

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  1. One big difference here in the U.S. is that it doesn't have iodine it, the way U.S. "regular" table salt does. Also, although you can get a "fine grain" kosher salt, it often comes in larger grains - that's what I use to make gravlax, for example.

    http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/ck_cu...

    http://ninecooks.typepad.com/perfectp... - this is interesting as well - and explains that one has to substitute 2 T of kosher salt for 1 T of table salt.

    I only use kosher salt and sea salts.

    11 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      Not all regular salt (i.e. non-kosher) is iodized. Sea salt often has a lot of naturally occurring iodine. Personally, I can't stand the stuff. To me it tastes like a medicine cabinet smells. I like Diamond Crystal plain table salt, and the kosher version for cooking.

      1. re: phofiend

        Actually, all salt is sea salt.

        1. re: Gio

          This is interesting about salt production:

          http://www.mortonsalt.com/saltfacts/s...

          1. re: Gio

            Um, no, unless you go back millions of years. Much salt is mined.

            1. re: phofiend

              there was a cool show on discovery a little while back about salt mining -- in the area of salt lake city, utah?

              1. re: alkapal

                I was in Poland a few years ago and went to the Wieliczka salt mine, which has been worked continuously since the fourteenth century. Incredible! Beautiful and frightening. For days I could taste salt every time I took a deep breath.

            2. re: Gio

              Thanks everyone! I really don't know why I posted that. I was really on my way to saying something else. A burp in my brain, I guess.....

              1. re: Gio

                Morton's table salt is produced in Rittman Ohio by evaporating brine extracted from deep injection wells.

            3. re: MMRuth

              Never seen "fine grain" kosher salt. Why would there be such a thing?

              1. re: C. Hamster

                The reason I buy it is that it doesn't have Iodine - I use it regularly.

                http://www.cargillsalt.com/food/dc_sa...

                1. re: MMRuth

                  That's what I use, too. It's easy to work with and tastes better.

                  But it's not fine, it's coarse. Quite coarse, as evidenced by the sub ratio between it and table salt.

                  I don't see why there would be "fine" kosher salt. It's for koshering meat.

            4. It's coarse salt....that's it....

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pollo

                But isn't it correct that it doesn't have iodine in it?

                Interestingly - it's not listed here:

                http://www.waitrose.com/food/cookinga...

              2. It shouldn't be hard to find at all. Look on your grocery shelves for a box a bit larger than a small cereal box. I can even choose from several brands at my local stores.

                1 Reply
                1. re: irishnyc

                  Harters is in the UK - it may not be as readily available there.

                2. I'm surprised the Jewish grocers did not know what Kosher salt is because it is used to "kosher meats" as required by Jewish law. This involves coating the meat with salt to draw the blood to the surface and, meats bought at a kosher butcher must be "Koshered" by that method in order to be kosher when served.

                  Kosher salt produced by Morton contains sodium ferrocyanide as a free-flow agent.

                  1. look for this box next to the "regular" salt in most any grocery store:
                    http://www.alliedkenco.com/catalog/pr...

                    1. Apart from the additives (iodine etc), the main difference, for cooks, is that kosher salt is coarse enough to 'pinch'. I keep a small jar of it near the stove, and take a small amount out with my thumb and finger when I want to adjust the seasoning. Some brands are actually flatten crystals. A related difference is that it is less dense than fine grain salt. I usually ignore that when measuring, preferring to under salt my food. If a recipe calls for kosher salt, and you substitute a fine grain one, don't use as much (by volume).

                      It may be that in the UK you have always had access to sea salt, in various textures. For us in the US, 'kosher' salt was, for a long time, the main alternative to fine grained 'ordinary' salt.

                      paulj

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: paulj

                        It also effects "saltliness". Cooks Illustrated did an analysis, and found that for substitution purposes, DC is the "airiest" salt, and regular table salt the densest, with Morton's Kosher falling inbetween, so they recommend substituting at:
                        1 part table salt=1.5 parts Mortons Kosher=2 parts DC Kosher

                      2. Thanks for all your superfast responses. I think from alkapal's link and the description of it being simply "coarse" salt, it must be what we would just call "cooking salt" (as opposed to "table salt").

                        Am I right that it is not in flakes as you would get in sea salt ("fleur de sel" as the French call it)?

                        For interest, a Google on "salt" and "Northwich" will get you about 94000 hits on the salt mining about 30 miles from my home in north west England. Our best known sea salt is Maldon but I prefer Halon Mon from the Island of Anglesey - http://www.seasalt.co.uk/DesktopDefau...

                        J

                        (PS: "Halon Mon" translates from Welsh as "Anglesey salt" - I think :-)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Harters

                          kosher is not flaky like sea salt -- you are correct, harters.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            Morton's kosher salt is in fact flaked salt.
                            dick

                            1. re: mr jig

                              my morton's kosher salt says "coarse" and if they are flakes, they are tiiiiiny flakes.

                        2. Basically all salt is sodium chloride (neglecting such things as potassium chloride, which is often blended with sodium chloride and sold as "lite" salt, but getting into chemistry would be beyond us here). Kosher salt could better be called "koshering" salt. It is the right grind for koshering meats, ie curing them with salt to bring out the blood, and that is its original purpose and where the name came from (it is not "kosher" because it was blessed by a rabbi). Variations in salt sold for human consumption relate primarily to additives and grind (coarseness). Kosher salt is a course grind that is generally free of additives, or has minimal additives. Because of the grind and the way the grains nest against each other, kosher salt is less dense than table salt, so more will be required by volume than table salt to have the same quantity by weight.

                          1. So, does "kosher salt" = "pickling salt" which is also not iodized?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: DockPotato

                              Pickling salt is EXTREMELY fine, so it dissolves easier.

                              1. re: Kelli2006

                                Ah. Now that's interesting, as the coarse "cooking salt" that I mention above that we have in the UK, is exactly what we'd use for general pickling, including making a soaking brine.

                            2. I use Kosher salt for almost everything. But I do keep a container of regular salt next to the stove for salting boiling water for pasta, vegetables, etc. At over three dollars a box Kosher salt is too expensive for that.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: 2chez mike

                                I used to do that too - but I now have too damn many containers of salts next to the too many bottles of olive oil - so I just use the coarse kosher salt, which I don't use as much as the fine one, for pasta water.

                                1. re: 2chez mike

                                  $3? Wow. I buy Diamond Kosher for about $1 or $1.50 a box. It's .99 at Walmart or Costco.

                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                    Supermarket own label "cooking salt" in the UK is 72p for 3kg. Which, if I've done my currency conversion correctly, is about 23 cents a pound.

                                    1. re: C. Hamster

                                      Thanks for the tip. I'll have to stock up next time I pass one of those places. It's well over three dollars a box here in Los Angeles at supermarkets like Ralph's, Jon's, Pavilions, etc.

                                      1. re: 2chez mike

                                        2chez mike, you might want to try Target. I bought my box of Morton's Kosher salt for about $2.89 during Thanksgiving, if I remember correctly. I was wondering if that wasn't an exorbitant price for salt since regular table salt's about 79 cents.