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SALT - which to use for my turkey brine?

HELP! Both of the turkey brine recipes that I found from Martha Stewart call for coarse salt. Does that mean I may use coarse kosher salt or do I need to simply find coarse salt? I'm confused.

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  1. I would use kosher salt to be safe. Most recipes assume volumes for kosher salts. I think different salts have different volumes. You could end up with an overly or underly brined turkey.

    Personally, I used 1 gallon water / 1 cup kosher salt / 1 cup sugar and at the end added some peppercorns and bay leaves.

    1 Reply
    1. re: blimeyboy

      Thanks so much. Will give it a try this Christmas.

    2. I just use table salt, and usu. it's 3/4 pound of salt per gallon of water.

      But I've always wondered why recipes call for things like kosher salt or sea salt for the brine. What difference does it make? After it dissolves in the brine, it's just going to be "salty" and texture is a non-issue, which is one reason to choose something like coarse or kosher salt over regular table salt when seasoning foods like salads or meats.

      12 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        Kosher salt isn't as "salty" as table salt if you put equal measured amounts of both into something.
        Kosher salt hasn't been milled as fine as table salt. Under a microscope Kosher or coarse salt looks like flakes. Table salt will look like little cubes.

        1. re: monku

          Note that ipsedixit used a weight measure - that's the same for table and kosher. If you are going to specify a volume measure for kosher, be sure to specify the brand as well.

          1. re: paulj

            Referring to this difference:

            "one reason to choose something like coarse or kosher salt over regular table salt when seasoning foods like salads or meats."

            1. re: monku

              Regardless of the volume of kosher (or any other salt), I want to know if there is a difference in using either table, kosher, sea, coarse, or whatever.

              The density and volume of the different salts can be adjusted, but when it's all dissolved in the brine, it's just going to taste salty.

              Contrast that with using salts as a garnish, there you can actually taste (and see) the textural difference. The textural difference will not matter with a brine.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                As PaulJ mentioned above...your recipe used 3/4 pound of "table salt", so 3/4 pound of Kosher or coarse salt should be just as salty.
                But if you didn't weigh it and used say a cup of each....the Kosher or coarse salt solution wouldn't be as "salty".

                1. re: monku

                  Yes, I understand that.

                  That's not the point.

                  As I said up above, even assuming you adjust for the difference in volume or weight or whatever unit of measurement you are using for the salt-to-water ratio so that you get equal amount of "saltiness" in each brine solution, is there any reason to use one type of salt over another? When the end result you are trying to achieve is salinity, not textural complexity.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    is there any reason to use one type of salt over another?

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                    Some people think there is. Some people claim the iodine in table salt is offending. Yes, there is non-iodized table salt.
                    Wouldn't the person preparing a Kosher turkey use Kosher salt?

                    You've now brought "salinity" into the discussion. If you want to get technical, then you would have to make the adjustment of salt-to-water ratio using a specific gravity test to measure the amount of salinity between the Kosher (coarse) salt or table salt.

                    1. re: monku

                      Wouldn't the person preparing a Kosher turkey use Kosher salt?
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                      Just because a label say "Kosher Salt" does not make it Kosher certified. The term typically refers to how the salt is used to draw out blood.

                      The Kosher salt most people cook with, incl. the ones referenced in this thread, are not "Kosher-certified". Kosher-style salt that is "Kosher" will be specially designated as such.

                      http://www.saltworks.us/salt_info/kos...

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Just because a label say "Kosher Salt" does not make it Kosher certified.

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                        Really?
                        What do they call it? "Kosher-style" salt.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I looked at the link.
                          I've never seen "Kosher-style" salt, but maybe it's a regional thing.

                          1. re: monku

                            When most people and cookbooks refer to "Kosher salt" they are referring to a type of salt that is coarser and grainier -- traditionally, this was a salt used to draw blood out of meat so that it meets the dietary rules set by Jewish law. A special type of salt that is grainier was needed because typical table salt was too fine and would dissolve too easily. Hence, the name Kosher salt.

                            Now, some of those "Kosher Salts" may indeed be "Kosher certified" but many are not. To be sure, most people who want Kosher certified "Kosher salt" will seek out the special designation, which I think is a K in a circle or something of that nature.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              For years I've been getting it at Costco, and it's always Mortons Kosher Certified.