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Kosher salt alternatives...

Is there a direct alternative to Kosher salt to cook with and also to season? I'm in Paris and I can't find Kosher salt anywhere. I haven't looked in specialty shops but regular grocery stores don't have it.

Any thoughts?

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  1. I would think any course salt would do.

    11 Replies
    1. re: foodieX2

      Oh ok. I thought there was something different between Kosher, sea salt, etc otherwise why make the distinctions. Maybe different levels of iodine? For example sea salt dissolves faster and loses its flavour when cooked so it is more of a finishing salt.

        1. re: tinpanalley

          Sea salt doesn't "lose flavor" any more or less than any other salt. The salt components of all "gourmet" salts be they Himalayan, exotic sea or smoked salts are exactly the same as table salt. The only difference is that they may have some additional minerals added.

          1. re: ferret

            They also tend to not have the anti clumping additives that table salt has.

            1. re: ferret

              Re: food network in the post below by "scoutmaster".

              Sea salt:
              these salts are usually expensive, it is worth keeping in mind that they lose their unique flavor when cooked or dissolved.

              1. re: tinpanalley

                They don't lose salt flavor, it's that the minute amounts of added stuff dissipates. The salt still tastes like salt.

            2. re: tinpanalley

              I guarantee if you put say 5 tablespoons of sea salt in a recipe that calls for 1 tablespoon you will definitely see what we mean when we say sea salt doesn't lose it's salt flavor when cooked.

              1. re: tinpanalley

                The big variable among salts, regardless of origin, is crystal size. Fine grain, whether called fine sea salt or table salt, dissolves quickly. It seasons the food, but looses its identity. A coarser salt when applied shortly before serving, stays more on the surface, and may even survive as crystals till you eat the food. Then you get an immediate taste of salt, and even a crunch.

                Sea salt can be fine or coarse.

                1. re: paulj

                  Also shape. Kosher salt is flattened, so a greater area contacts the surface on which it is placed, for equal weights.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    Diamond brand is flattened, but I don't think other brands are (e.g. Morton).

            3. The only significant difference for most cooks is the density. The grains are a bit larger than table salt (the kind that goes in shakers), and in some brands is more like a flattened flake than a crystal. So if working by volume, a teaspoon of kosher has 2/3 to 1/2 the mass of a finer grain. The density of kosher salt differs by brand.

              It is called 'kosher' because it is free of anti-caking agents and such that might make a brining (koshering) solution cloudy.

              I keep both fine salt and kosher salt on hand in the kitchen. The kosher is in a small jar, and I 'measure' it by the pinch. But for baking I tend to use the finer stuff, keeping in mind the density issue if the recipe calls for kosher.

              I think a lot of American recipes call for kosher salt simply because it has a more trendy, 'gourmet' sound to it.

              10 Replies
              1. re: paulj

                "I think a lot of American recipes call for kosher salt simply because it has a more trendy, 'gourmet' sound to it." - Alton Brown would strongly disagree with you. :)

                1. re: paulj

                  really? I don't think of kosher salt as gourmet in any way.

                  1. re: paulj

                    Trendy? Kosher salt? OK, thanks for my laugh of the day! <<big grin>>

                    1. re: foodieX2

                      While I think the idea of Kosher salt being trendy is hilarious as well, I can see the point in referring to certain kinds of people who love to talk like "foodies" trying to sound sophisticated by knowing terminology that is used by people who cook more than others. I don't think anyone here thinks kosher salt and trendy belong in the same sentence.

                      1. re: tinpanalley

                        http://kitchen-myths.com/tag/kosher-s...
                        "Many cooks and recipes specify that kosher salt be used. Why? Truth be told, because it’s trendy, mostly. Kosher salt is relatively pure sodium chloride, and so is the usual table salt that is available in every supermarket and half or less the price. If you think you can taste the iodine in iodized salt, buy the uniodized version and save some money."

                        This author, like myself, thinks kosher salt is fine for pinching, but doesn't make much sense in other uses (taking into account density).

                        Admittedly it is a 20 yr old trend. There are newer salt trends, like sea salt or designer colors.

                        1. re: paulj

                          I use kosher salt for general use. Since I'm not inclined to measure salt I can add it by eye and come out okay. Where salt needs more precise measurements, measuring by weight is preferred.

                          Just to weigh in on comments about flavor, the small amount of minerals in most cases are not appreciated by most users of expensive sea salt. Texture maybe but I have my doubts about flavor. This is a place where blind tasting will be very revealing

                      2. re: foodieX2

                        "Trendy? Kosher salt? OK, thanks for my laugh of the day! <<big grin>>"

                        Or better yet gourmet. One of the reasons we use kosher salt in a professional kitchen when we can is because its much cheaper than all the finishing salts!

                        1. re: twyst

                          What do you use when you need to measure the salt, as opposed to pinch it? For example, in baking? Isn't it too coarse to use in most baking?

                          1. re: paulj

                            Yes, the pastry chefs tend to use finely ground sea salt for most applications in my experience. I think many pastry chefs may also use regular iodized table salt, but we dont keep any of that stuff around in the places I have worked. We use kosher and finely ground sea salt for cooking depending on what we are doing, and keep maldon/fleur de sel/hana flake etc around to use for finishing salts.

                      3. re: paulj

                        "...call for kosher salt simply because it has a more trendy, 'gourmet' sound to it."

                        Spot-on correct.

                      4. Depends on your reason for not using common table salt. If it's just texture, some sea salts are coarser than others. If it's the absence of iodine, any sea salt will do.

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: scubadoo97

                            Not in the context of this discussion.

                        1. I am currently using a box of 'kosher sea salt' from Atica Salina in Sicily. It's really just a medium coarse salt that is 'easy to pick up and sprinkle on food' (so the label says). It's actually a bit coarser than Morton's and not at all flaky like Diamond. And doesn't dissolve very fast. It was also pretty cheap, since I got it at Big Lots, a clearance store.

                          1. When in Paris, do what the Parisians do (whatever that is). The criteria for cooking are that you don't want unwanted flavors introduced by impurities or additives, and you want consistency. Even if you found kosher salt, it would likely be different than your US brand, so you would not have consistency. Even within the US, the two most common brands differ as to crystal structure and density. If you can't get exactly what you are familiar with, just use what is used for cooking there and adapt to it.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: GH1618

                              This isn't about what Parisians or anyone else for that matter does or doesn't do. It is widely accepted, as far as I am aware, that Kosher salt is what chefs and cooks use in most of the western world. This isn't an attempt to do what I used to do in the states, it's an attempt to continue cooking with an integral ingredient recognised in most places as being a staple of cooking.

                              1. re: tinpanalley

                                But in the OP you wrote that you can't find kosher salt in Paris. Doesn't that imply that it is not used by chefs in the city?

                                Trying to imitate professionals in the home kitchen is part of the trendiness I was talking about. I stated using kosher salt several decades ago, most likely due to the influence of some forgotten TV chef (possibly Frugal Gourmet). Kosher salt is like EVOO; something that many of us home cooks use because we think the real chefs use it (because RR has told us so). But often we don't understand by the chefs use it, and when they don't use it.

                            2. What is the difference between kosher salt, sea salt, and table salt?

                              http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-an...

                              1. "Kosher" salt is nothing but foodie trendiness; the stuff is NOT kosher. All you need is any very coarse grained salt. I use a French brand of coarse salt, "Baleine".

                                15 Replies
                                1. re: LouBricano

                                  "Kosher" refers to its intended use for "koshering" meat. It's preferred by cooks to table salt because it lacks iodine and because the flattened grains are more comfortable when taking a pinch. "Trendiness" has nothing to do with it.

                                  1. re: GH1618

                                    I know that the "kosher" in "kosher salt" refers to its use in the koshering process, but I don't believe most people who reflexively call for its use in everyday cooking know that. Trendiness has EVERYTHING to do with it. This is foodie-ism at its worst. There are myriad coarse crystal salt products that don't have "kosher" on the label. Food and recipe writers COULD simply say to use a coarse, pinchable salt, such as "Baleine" brand or any of these: http://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&amp;n.... No, there's definitely something beyond simply wanting the appropriate product. It's trendiness - an insider "thing".

                                    1. re: LouBricano

                                      There certainly are not "myriad" choices of coarse salt in every grocery. Just about any supermarket has Morton Coarse Kosher Salt, as well as Morton table salt. Other salts are not nearly as widely available. Another reason the "kosher" salt is preferred by cooks is that the 3-lb box is more convenient than the 26-oz cylindrical box that the table salt comes in. Morton Kosher Salt is just ordinary salt.

                                      Salt is important in cooking as it is the foundation of seasoning. Whatever salt you use, it is best to stick to one brand and type for consistent results.

                                      1. re: GH1618

                                        There are myriad choices of salt available anywhere that a trendy foodie is going to be purchasing groceries.

                                        Look: what you mean when specifying "kosher" salt is just coarse grained - large crystals - salt. That's what so-called "kosher" (which isn't kosher) salt is. So why not just say that?

                                        There DEFINITELY is some trendy foodie thing going on with rigidly specifying "kosher" salt. It's irritating as all hell. Just cut the nonsense and call it coarse salt - that's all it is.

                                        1. re: LouBricano

                                          I don't see why you feel a need to put down people who happen to use a different type of salt than you do. Use any salt you like. For those of here who use "kosher" salt for cooking, it is just ordinary cooking salt which is inexpensive, comes in a convenient package, and has a nice texture when taking a pinch.

                                          1. re: GH1618

                                            I'm not "putting down people" for using any particular salt. I am criticizing people for their blind adherence to a rigid and IRRATIONAL foodie orthodoxy. It is a legitimate criticism.

                                  2. re: LouBricano

                                    I wouldn't call it trendy but readily available, inexpensive with less additives and easy to measure by hand. But even kosher salts vary in composition. Some purer than others and certainly vary in flake size.

                                    Since I use Diamond brand most often for general use I can eye it quite well when seasoning a dish

                                    1. re: scubadoo97

                                      'readily available' - in the USA. The OP was asking about alternatives where it is not readily available.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        Yes, but scubadoo was responding to LouB, not the OP. As for the OP's question, it's just a matter of nomenclature and local convention. When in Paris, do as the Parisians do. There must be some salt widely used in France for cooking.

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Coarse salt is readily available everywhere. Come on...

                                        2. re: scubadoo97

                                          Come on - cut the guff. When you're seasoning a dish that provides four or more servings, a pinch (or equivalent sprinkle) of table salt or a pinch of coarse grain salt is not going to make ANY detectable difference; and a pinch of salt labeled "kosher" versus a pinch of any other coarse grained salt is not going to make ANY difference in the world. No, there's definitely some insider trendy foodie aspect to a *specific* requirement for "kosher" salt, which is not, as we have seen, actually kosher.

                                          1. re: LouBricano

                                            It feels like I get more salt in a pinch when using a coarser salt. The fine stuff flows out before I get much of a grip on it. It is also easier to dribble the coarser stuff evenly around the top of the pot. To do the same with fine salt I have to use a shaker. It is harder to judge how much salt I've added when using a shaker.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              Then use coarse salt. Just call it "coarse salt", and stop with the foodie "kosher" nonsense.

                                              1. re: LouBricano

                                                You are missing the fundamental point here, which is that a good cook must control the saltiness — not too much, not too little. It is better to stick to one brand and type of salt because different salts have different densities. Sticking to one brand and type of salt helps a cook be consistent in properly salting food.

                                                There are two widely available coarse salts in the US: Morton Coarse Kosher Salt and Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt. Those are the names. They are not interchangeable (when measured) by volume) because their densities are significantly different. If a cook sends someone to the store to get some salt, he (or she) should say which brand and type. It is not sufficient to say "Morton" because Morton table salt will be found along with the kosher salt, so the cook will order "Morton Kosher Salt" (or Diamond Kosher Salt) to be sure of getting the right product.

                                                If you don't like the use of "Kosher" in the name of the salt, it seems to me that you should direct your complaint to the salt manufacturers, not to us poor souls who are merely trying to prepare dinner and have the seasoning come out right.

                                                1. re: LouBricano

                                                  The name predates the nonsense. Why get your shorts in a knot?

                                        3. Yes, there is: ANY coarse crystal salt.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: LouBricano

                                            While salt is salt, Kosher salt is coarser than table salt but not as dense as the coarse salts you link to. It is indeed a different size.