A good cookbook always includes some kind of healthy suggestion or tip, but one that often gets ignored is the use of kosher salt. This salt comes from the kosher sea salt mined in Israel. There are several varieties of kosher salt available on the market today. Here are some of the health benefits of kosher salt along with some cooking tips to help you enjoy even more of this versatile seasoning.
A: It all depends. All three kosher salts, sea salt, and table salt all contain the same level of salt in a given cubic inch. But kosher salt tends to have a coarser texture, so it also has less sodium per crystal size. So, when you are cooking with kosher salt, you will naturally reduce the sodium content when you make the switch from regular table salt to kosher salt.
B: Crystal Size. Kosher sea salt and kosher salt have different crystal sizes. The coarseness of kosher salt is based on the method of mining for the salt. It’s chemically treated to improve its color, making it appear more transparent, thus making the salt less expensive than sea salt. Sea salt, on the other hand, is harvested from the sea and is much larger in a crystal size, up to ten times larger than kosher salt.
C: Salt Reactivity. Unlike table salt, whose salt particles are larger and/or heavier, kosher salt is lighter, retaining less moisture when it’s exposed to air. In addition, it contains trace minerals that help it retain its color more than sea salt. In terms of reactivity, both salts exhibit relatively high temperatures.
D: The Taste. Sea salts taste better when they’re not too hot. Hot sea salts contain more dissolved minerals, making them taste salty and almost metallic. However, kosher salt does not have this taste. Its flavor is very mild and its sodium and chloride content are well below normal, which makes it ideal for cooking or baking.
E: The Cradle of Life. Kosher sea salts predate the Earth by millions of years. The trace minerals found in kosher salt come from a rock formation deep under the sea called the Baltic Rock. The rock contains calcium and magnesium, as well as other trace minerals that make up the mineral makeup of the planet.
A: Aesthetic Quality. Kosher salt has a slightly salty flavor that some people find unappealing. Most table salt isn’t decorated like kosher salt and the effects can be harsh on some skin types. But since kosher salt is used in food and in the ceremony itself, it’s important to note that these effects are only temporary. Over time, these affects of using kosher salt will subside and will revert to its naturally occurring flavor.
R: Soundness. Unlike other types of table salt, kosher salt is very hard. It may feel solid when you first use it, but as it begins to lose its substance, the salt will eventually dissolve into a blend of fine dust. This makes for a great salt for seasoning food, especially sea foods like fish. To test the consistency of kosher salt on your food, sprinkle a small amount on a surface and let it set for about five minutes. If the powder holds its shape, it’s just right for seasoning.
Caution: When shopping for kosher salt, make sure you always buy kosher salt that comes in small containers. Kosher salt that is too large can lump when added to the ingredients during the cooking process. You’ll want to avoid using this type of salt in any cooking process where you will be adding ingredients and will be adding a lot of heat. Also, always buy kosher salt in its natural color – white. Even though it says it’s kosher salt, the actual salt may have been treated with an oxidizing agent and it will most likely gray.
As with any type of seasoning, it’s important to follow all of the instructions for using kosher salt to ensure proper seasoning of foods and to prevent burning. However, in the case of seafood or fresh pasta water, it’s best to experiment with different types of kosher salt to determine which one compliments the taste of your dish best. Experimentation and tasting are half the fun of learning new recipes, isn’t it?
Finally, there are many ways to use kosher salt or table salt. One of the ways that chefs have started using kosher salt is in their own cooking. Seasoning fish, vegetables, and meat using kosher salt has produced a wonderfully salty taste that is very complementary to the food’s natural flavors. Seasoning chicken with this versatile kosher salt is also a terrific way to create some flavor without adding extra salt to your dish. No matter how you use kosher salt in your cooking, the flavor will add a great deal to the final flavor of your meal.