Kosher salt, regular table salt, sea salt, and Himalayan salt are popular types of edible salt. Have you ever wondered about the difference between them or why kosher salt is called “kosher”?
Kosher salt simply has a larger grain size than regular table salt. The salt itself isn’t necessarily “kosher,” but it’s used to remove blood from meat to make it kosher.
What Is Kosher Salt?
Kosher salt is a coarse edible salt, typically lacking iodine and other additives, although sometimes it includes anticaking agents. It’s called “kosher” because it’s used for koshering or kashering meat. In the kashrut Jewish tradition, eating meat containing blood is forbidden. Applying coarse-grained salt drains the blood away from the meat, making the meat kosher.
There are two kinds of kosher salt. One is called kosher salt because of its coarse grains. It may be mined like regular table salt, evaporated from seawater, or evaporated from salt mine brine. The other kind of kosher salt is kosher-certified salt, which is kosher salt that has been certified by the Orthodox Union or another Jewish Institute.
The Difference Between Kosher Salt and Regular Salt
Chemically, kosher salt and regular table salt may start out identical. But, table salt has smaller grains so it’s easier for people to season individual portions to their taste. Table salt may be iodized and often contains anti-caking agents so the small grains flow freely through a shaker.
Can You Substitute Kosher and Table Salt in Recipes?
According to Taste magazine, most types of sea salt and table salt have the same grain size and are interchangeable in recipes, but they differ from kosher salt. There is less sodium chloride (salt) in a cup of kosher salt compared to regular or sea salt. It’s also risky substituting between different types of kosher salts because they measure differently due to their crystal shapes. Morton Salt’s kosher salt forms when rollers compress cubic crystals into flattened flakes. Diamond Crystal’s kosher salt consists of hollow pyramids formed from evaporation of salt mine brine. One cup of Morton kosher salt is almost twice as salty as one cup of Diamond Crystal salt.
Sea salt has a more complex chemical composition because it comes from evaporation of sea water. Sea salt contains minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, and a small amount of fluoride. But, it’s also increasingly contaminated with heavy metals and microplastics. Sea salt is available in a variety of grain sizes. Some manufacturers purify the product to remove undesirable impurities.
Himalayan salt is an edible salt from the Khewra Salt Mine in the Punjab region of Pakistan. The salt gets its pink to orange color from trace minerals, including calcium, iron, chromium, zinc, magnesium, and sulfate. Edible Himalayan salt is 96% to 99% sodium chloride, but some salt mined in Pakistan is too high in impurities for use in food without purification. Himalayan salt lacks iodine and is free of anti-caking agents. Usually, it’s a coarse-grained salt, closer in grain size to kosher salt than table salt.
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- Simmons, Marie (April 2008). Things Cooks Love (1st ed.). Kansas City. ISBN 9780740769764.
- Uyehara, Mari (October 11, 2017). “The Kosher Salt Question.” Taste.