Don't bless the salt – it's already kosher.
It seemed like a cooking fad, but kosher salt is not going away. What is kosher salt? Is it really better than table salt?
You bet. With the exception of chilling your beer.
Kosher, which means "fit" or "proper", is a word mostly associated with food. It's not a style of cooking; kosher food gets its label only after strict processing rules have been followed. In a broader sense, the term can also be used to describe purity, as in ritual objects, and even people themselves.
What does this have to do with salt?
Kosher laws require that all of the blood be removed from meat when it is butchered. This means packing the meat in salt. Plain old table salt won't do the trick because it dissolves into the meat before the process is complete. So, your brisket is too salty and non-kosher.
Enter kosher salt, aka Koshering Salt.
Large flakes don't dissolve before the job is done. And because there is no iodine or anti-caking agent added, it can be called kosher because it is pure salt. No blessing needed.
You'll need to modify your salt shaker when you replace standard table salt with your new friend kosher salt. Better yet, buy a cheese shaker. Those flakes are huge.
Salt enhances flavor in part by drawing moisture out of the food you sprinkle. A large salt crystal will melt more slowly and draw out more moisture, so cooking with kosher salt gets you more flavor.
Use it instead of table salt with any of your favorite recipes. Its great for using in a rub, or brining meat. Chunky, irregular looking kosher salt also makes an interesting garnish. If you clean your cast iron with kosher salt, you can scrub without removing the seasoning from the pan.
A note about Sea Salt
Sea salt and kosher salt are often referred to interchangeably. They are not the same thing though. While they are each large flakes of sodium chloride, there are a few key differences.
Sea salt crystals are not quite as big as kosher salt crystals. Kosher’s flakes have large surface areas while sea salt has a pyramid shape. This is why sea salt cannot absorb as much moisture.
While some producers use evaporation to make kosher salt, others compress table salt crystals under pressure. The resulting flakes have irregular shapes.
Sea salt is made by evaporating sea water at normal pressure. Therefore the flakes are relatively uniform in shape. Minerals such as magnesium and calcium may be added to sea salt to give it a distinct flavor. Hawaiian salt, for instance, is a rich black sea salt that comes from lava.
Depending on where is it made, sea salt will have different colors. This is caused by the trace minerals that exist in the area where the salt was evaporated.
Generally chefs prefer kosher to sea salt, due to the coarser texture. The price difference is a factor as well; sea salt is generally a gourmet item and a salt plate can be quite expensive.
How to substitute with kosher salt
Kosher salt's larger crystals take up more space than table salt flakes, even though they weigh the same. This makes substitution tricky. (The size of the flakes also varies from brand to brand.) Start yourself out with a two to one ratio: two teaspoons of kosher salt generally equal one teaspoon of table salt. It's not a hard and fast rule. Then again, neither is the measurement at the end of all the best recipes: salt to taste.
When your measurement must be exact, however, be careful. The volume of the salt is not the only factor. How quickly the flakes dissolve may affect your recipe, too. For this reason, table salt may still be a better choice than kosher salt for baking.
Oh, and for chilling your beer.
If you dissolve salt in your cooler, you will lower the freezing point of the water. The salt molecules interfere with the water molecules, preventing them from bonding into a solid.
Water can still form itself into ice when foreign bodies are present, but the temperature needs to be lower than 32 degrees. Compare Lake Michigan with the Bering Sea, in January.
The ice cubes in your cooler will chill the water they are floating in to a temperature below freezing. How does a chilly and refreshing beverage in a mere 15 minutes sound? Thought so.
Kosher salt will dissolve in your cooler, but when you're thirsty and the drinks are warm, speed is key. So stick with the little salt. You'll have lots to spare once you switch to kosher salt.
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Emma from Houston TX on March 21, 2011:
Never seen or heard of this salt before.All the same am happy to have learn t a lot about it now.
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on February 03, 2011:
Marc Woodard from Portland, Oregon on February 02, 2011:
Didn't know all the specifics with salt use. Good hub. Thanks.
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on December 07, 2010:
I hope the turkey was great! It sounds delicious. Yup, a brine really needs kosher salt instead of table salt. Good for you for trying a new recipe :)
joleenruffin from Tracy, CA on December 06, 2010:
I brined a turkey for the first time this Thanksgiving. The brine called for kosher salt which I had never used before. I was thinking about looking it up when I came across this hub. Good info. Now I am totally up on my salt 411.
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on February 10, 2010:
Aww. I hate it when warm, fuzzy nostalgia turns into heartbreaking anguish.
Hey that reminds me - I've got a 20 year class reunion this summer...
Just be sure to throw a couple handfuls of salt sea into your beer tub. Ice deluxe! Penguins will be jealous of how cold your beer is! (I'm jealous myself!)
Niteriter from Canada on February 09, 2010:
Hi Jen. I grew up in a small village on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean so I am quite familiar with the effects of salt sea. Salt sea can be turned into sea salt simply by reversing the words in the phrase. I thought you might want to know that.
In my early adult years I left my village home and moved to a large city where I ended up in the very heart of an Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood. Kosher foods were readily available anywhere within sneezing distance of my apartment. I might have felt less homesick had I known as much about kosher salt then as I do now.
You wrote a wonderful Hub but it has brought back memories of sadder and lonelier days. I think I'll just mosey on out to my beer tub and see if there's anything left to help take the edge off the melancholy that now envelopes me. Sniff... sniff...
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on January 17, 2010:
I keep a little jar of table salt. There are times when I do need a smaller size.
Sea salt has fine flavor that varies, depending on which sea it is from. Kosher salt is simply pure.
I learned the hard way not to measure it over whatever you are putting it into. It's very easy to over-pour! LOL
I'm glad the hub had good info for you. Go pick some KS up, and use it here and there to see if you like it. It's not expensive at all.
It's the only salt I use for soup!
Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 17, 2010:
Thanks! I've been wondering about the difference between salts so really appreciate this hub. I feel like I would be so tempted to take a hammer and smash the Kosher salt into smaller pieces.
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on December 19, 2009:
Give it a try for cooking. It really makes a difference :-)
Holle Abee from Georgia on December 18, 2009:
Great hub, Jen! I've used kosher salt before for making pickles, but I didn't know all this about it.
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on December 09, 2009:
Kosher salt is less expensive than sea salt and has a neutral flavor because it has no additives. Sea salt is for special occasions at my house :-) Kosher is an every day necessity.
fishtiger58 from Momence, Illinois on December 09, 2009:
And all along I thought sea salt and kosher salt were the same. Thanks for clearing that up.
ralwus on November 19, 2009:
I've been using it for years as well as sea salt. Don't use iodine salt anymore either. I prefer Kosher salt overall for all the attributes you have mentioned. Nice hub.
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on November 10, 2009:
Good Eats was the first place I ever heard somebody using kosher salt.
franki79 on November 10, 2009:
OH!!!!! So THAT'S WHAT KOSHER SALT IS!!!! I ALWAYS SEE ALTON BROWN ON GOOD EATS USE IT AND SAY IT BUT NEVER KNEW WHAT THE DIFFERENENCE WAS, (BESIDES NOT BEING TREATED WITH IODINE) THANKS FOR CLEARING THAT UP WITH THIS HUB!!!! FRANKI
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on October 14, 2009:
I like shrimp sprinkled with kosher salt :-D
The research I did proved to me that our modern diet is diverse enough to provide enough iodine from our food. I've read many statements that iodine affects flavor, and I've read many statements that it has no affect. I notice a difference myself but that may simply be because kosher extracts a different flavor from the food itself. It's fresher and more clean to me. Especially with corn on the cob!
Thanks for stopping by! I appreciate it.
carriegoff from Michigan on October 14, 2009:
Great information. But, how does one get iodine if not in my salt? I don't like shrimp!
Jen King (author) from Wyandotte Michigan on October 02, 2009:
I've found, since I switched , that I am using much less salt. Kosher doesn't dissolve as fast so I don't need to dump half the shaker on.
Lee Boolean on September 30, 2009:
Its actually well known in Europe, but not as "kosher" salt, I was not aware of its uses though, thanks its on my shopping list now, and the cold beer tip will find its use next summer for sure!
Tony McGregor from South Africa on September 30, 2009:
Never seen or heard of kosher salt before - thanks for an interesting Hub.
Love and peace
Gin G from Canada on September 10, 2009:
I always wondered about kosher salt. Now I know, thanks. :) welcome to HubPages.