Why use kosher salt when table salt works just as much? Check out this article that will dive deep into the mystery of salts!
Coarse edible salt, a staple in kitchens worldwide, goes by diverse names across cultures and countries. In the United States, the term “kosher salt” emerged, not indicating the salt’s adherence to religious standards, but rather its role in the Jewish practice of dry-brining meats, known as kashering. Certain brands may further distinguish kosher-certified salt, approved by a religious body.
In the world of salts – table, kosher, sea or any other edible salt – their chemical makeup is surprisingly similar. They’re all primarily composed of nearly 100% pure sodium chloride (NaCl), with a sprinkle of trace elements. Table salt, designed to prevent clumping, contains these additional elements, whereas sea salt gathers them during its oceanic harvest.
When these salts mix with water, any disparities between them dissolve, leaving their seasoning prowess indistinguishable in our culinary adventures.
What’s the difference in salts?
Regular table salt comprises tiny, uniform cubes, allowing them to snugly pack together.
Conversely, kosher salt boasts large, uneven flakes that don’t compact efficiently. Consequently, when measured by volume, they’re not interchangeable. A cup of table salt packs twice the salting punch compared to a cup of Diamond Crystal kosher salt. This factor directly influences our culinary endeavors given that we measure solid ingredients by volume.
While color disparities primarily serve an aesthetic purpose, the salt’s shape significantly influences its gastronomic attributes. Chefs favor sea salts for their ability to introduce a crunchy texture and a sudden burst of salinity, enhancing the appeal of plated dishes. Their best application lies in the final touches—ideal for scattering atop glazed bread loaves before baking or sprinkling over impeccably cooked steak just before presentation.
Why kosher salt?
The ease of handling kosher salt sets it apart. Technically, all salt is kosher, but the term “kosher salt” refers to its large grains, ideal for drawing out moisture during the koshering process of meat. However, this isn’t the primary reason chefs prefer it.
Chefs favor kosher salt mainly for its finger-friendly texture, offering superior control over seasoning. Consider moments at a restaurant when attempting to sprinkle salt from a shaker yielded minimal output. Conversely, using table salt sometimes led to accidental oversalting. Kosher salt’s grain size allows for a more precise seasoning experience, avoiding such mishaps.
Varieties of exquisite salts originate from oceans and salty bodies worldwide, exhibiting diverse formations based on their origin and mineral composition. Their structures vary from humid, clustered pieces to delicate, pyramid-like flakes, boasting a spectrum of hues from vivid pink to deep black.
Utilizing coarse-grained salt in the kitchen extends beyond seasoning and flavor enhancement; it plays a pivotal role in brining meat and adhering to certain religious practices. Dry brining, often known as kashering in some traditions, involves applying this salt in a specific manner, sometimes complemented with herbs, spices, or sugar to heighten flavors.
The process involves soaking the meat in cool water, followed by a thorough drainage. A fine layer of salt completely covers the meat, which is then left to rest on a rack or board for an hour or more. During this time, the larger salt granules, mostly undissolved, draw out and absorb fluids from the meat. These juices, combined with salt and any added flavors, effectively brine the meat, enhancing succulence and taste. Prior to cooking, the salt rub is rinsed off and discarded.
Furthermore, owing to its coarse texture, this salt serves as an effective abrasive for cleaning cookware like cast iron skillets. When combined with oil, it retains its abrasive qualities while easily dissolving in water after cleaning. Unlike cleansers containing pumice or calcium carbonate, which may leave behind a gritty residue if not thoroughly rinsed, this salt-based cleaning mixture ensures a cleaner finish without any lingering grit.
It’s worth noting that the density of salt varies significantly between different brands. For instance, the same volume measurement may contain double the salt by mass compared to another brand. This variance in density impacts the salinity and calls for attention when following recipes for a precise taste.
What’s with Iodine?
The inclusion of iodine in many table salts originated in the 1920s to combat widespread goiter issues in the northern regions of America, spanning from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Northwest. While this measure greatly reduced goiter cases, the need for iodine supplementation has diminished in most parts of our population.
The question of whether iodized salt is necessary leans toward a negative response for most individuals. Rich sources of iodine such as fish, seaweed, various vegetables, and dairy adequately fulfill our iodine requirements. Even by solely using kosher salt and consuming plentiful vegetables or fish, one can obtain sufficient iodine.
Regarding taste, iodine’s presence is nearly imperceptible in table salt. Although individuals sensitive to it might discern a subtle flavor in delicately seasoned dishes.
- All salts are created equal when dissolved.
- Kosher salt is just a misnomer for large flaky salt.
- It’s harder to over salt food with large flakes hence kosher salt popularity.
- Iodine is not necessary for individuals with healthy diet.