This one simple ingredient can transform your cooking. It can make a hum hum dish sing and take your desserts to the next level. It also is something that the body craves but can’t keep. SALT! Formal name Sodium Chloride.
Despite its simplicity, the choices are seemingly endless. Just look at the grocery aisle, and you will come across many different options. Kosher, table, pink Himalayan, canning, pickling? Coarse or fine? Which do you choose and why?
Just a little bit of information, and you can learn which to use and when. It’s important because, throughout this research, I’ve learned that not all salts are the same.
Let’s go to The Chalkboard.
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Want to get right to it? Here’s The Chalkboard version
- Buy kosher for most cooking needs, specifically the Diamond Crystal brand.
- Use table for baking.
- Use sea for finishing.
- If a recipe recommends a specific brand, use it.
Despite their different names, they are all the same thing made from the same compound. The differences come from various farming practices. The way the salt is produced yields different sizes in the grains. Different manufacturers will often use multiple additives to reduce clumps that naturally happen with humidity or iodine for the perceived health benefit.
The Most Common Types Of Salt For Cooking
- Pink Himalayan
- Sea Salt
- Table Salt
Canning and pickling salts are made for preserving fruits and vegetables. They have no impurities. In a pinch, you can certainly substitute kosher salt. However, you may want to use the Diamond Crystal brand since it is without impurities. Agents added to the other types of spices will sometimes create a cloudy liquid since the additive settles on the bottom of the jar. This isn’t a significant concern, as it is mostly a cosmetic issue. If substituting, be sure to watch the amounts since it is not always a 1:1 substitution. Morton Salt has a great chart to assist.
The real name is actually koshering salt since it is typically used during the butchering process for kosher meats. We talk a little bit about the process in our rubbery chicken article. This type of salt is prevalent in commercial kitchens today. Unlike other types of seasoning, this version typically doesn’t have any additives. Manufacturers will often add iodine for the health benefit as well as anti-caking agents.
How Is Kosher Salt Made?
There is no one way to make kosher salt, and the two largest manufacturers use entirely different methods. Morton’s involves a vacuum that creates denser grain, while Diamond Crystal uses an evaporation method that yields a lighter product.
Why Do We Recommend Diamond Crystal?
It mostly comes down to shape. The distinct form allows the salt to crush easily in your hands and break down in dishes better since it is less dense. It also adheres better to meats. The product is less “salty” than other products and therefore makes it more forgiving. It takes a lot of product to make your dish too salty.
Mined from the mountains range that spans five countries, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China (Tibet), and Pakistan, Pink Himalayan salt has recently become more popular with home cooks. The bright hue comes from the high iron content derived from the mountains. It is excellent for sprinkling on top of dishes and desserts for added flavor.
This type of salt takes several years to produce. Seawater collects in shallow ponds that are left to evaporate from the sun and the wind. As the water leaves, the salt is left behind on the water bed. The resulting product is harvested, washed, and screened. This process can take anywhere from one to five years.
Since sea salt is derived from nature, the taste can vary since it often includes minerals that were in the water. The resulting flakes are large and are best for sprinkling on top of foods.
Table salt is what you find in shakers on dinner tables throughout the country. The main difference is the addition of the mineral iodine.
During the early 20th century, many Americans did not have enough of it in their diets. That led to increased thyroid problems. To combat the issue, some makers added iodine to their products. You don’t need to use iodized salt to reach your dietary requirement. Sources of dietary iodine include fish, dairy, eggs, enriched grain products, and plant foods grown in iodine-rich soils.
“Testing of the general population indicates that most Americans consume sufficient levels of iodine through their diets. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are the only groups in the U.S. that are advised to take a daily iodine supplement, usually as part of a prenatal vitamin,” according to the Mayo Clinic.
Is Kosher The Same As Pickling Salt?
No, but it can be subbed in a pinch. Try to use one without additives as they may settle on the bottom of the jar and cause cloudiness. This is not a big deal since it is primarily a cosmetic issue, but it is worth noting. Also, it may not be an equal substitution, especially as the quantities get larger. Check out the conversion chart for specific amounts.
What Can I Use If I Don’t Have Kosher Salt?
Sea salt would be the natural alternative since the flakes are large and, the salinity is similar but, it can be expensive. You could also use table salt but use half the amount and taste as you go.
Is Kosher Salt Iodized?
No, table salt is the type that primarily has added iodine. But double-check the label if you want a 100% pure product as some have inserted anti-caking properties. Diamond Crystal is known to be additive-free.
What Is The Difference Between The Types Of Salts?
Crystal shape and production. Table salt is a cube, Morton’s is a flattened ice cube, and Diamond Crystal is a snowflake; every grain is different. This article from Chowhound has a great visualization.
What’s The Best Salt For Baking?
Unless otherwise specified, the table variety is what most recipe developers use. The larger grains in kosher and sea salts have a tougher time breaking down in baked goods and therefore don’t distribute as evenly.
What Do You Think?
What types do you currently use and why? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear!