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Dec 22, 2012 08:45 AM

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.

    12 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).

                  2. re: paulj

                    The other important consideration is weight vs volume. The coarser the salt the less a cup will weigh.

                    Probably not that big of a deal with a tsp, but when measuring several cups for a brine it can make a big difference.


              2. 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.

                12 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

                          "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

                            1. re: paulj

                              If "trendy" (adj) wasn't quite the right word, "foodie snobbery" (n) probably is. None of the explanations for why kosher salt is always specified holds water. I have read in these comments people saying that it's easier to "feel" the right amount in a pinch, but that does nothing to explain a recipe calling for some spoon measure (tsp, tbsp) of kosher salt. Nor do the explanations about the kosher salt having a "more flattened shape" hold up when the stuff is going to be blended with other ingredients. No, there is definitely some unspoken non-food reason for the insistence on kosher salt.

                              1. re: LouBricano

                                Snobbery has nothing to do with it. It's cheaper and comes in a larger box than the type intended for shakers. It's practical. I'm not going to have two kinds of salt in my kitchen depending on whether I will pinch it or measure with a spoon. I do have the regular stuff in the cylindrical box which I use only to fill my wife's salt shaker, but it stays in the pantry otherwise.

                          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

                            " 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.

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