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What is the Difference Between Kosher Salt and Regular Salt?

Kosher salt is free of iodine and other additives.
Table salt.
Teaspoon of salt.
A bowl of kosher salt.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2014
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Kosher salt is a special type of salt that is not heavily refined, allowing it to retain a flaky, multifaceted crystalline structure. Regular table salt, on the other hand, is milled so that it has a uniform crystal structure. Under a microscope, table salt takes the form of regularly shaped cubes, while kosher varieties look like a series of randomly attached crystals. These structural differences cause these salts to perform differently in cooking, which is why recipes may call specifically for one or the other.

The less refined salt got its name because it has traditionally been used in kosher butchering. Shoppers may sometimes see it labeled as “koshering salt” for this reason, since it is used as part of the process that makes meat safe to eat for Jewish people who observe dietary guidelines. In addition to being only lightly refined, kosher salt also has no additives such as iodine, making it a very pure, plain salt with a mild flavor.

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The many faces of a single grain of kosher salt make it ideal for things like curing meats and vegetables, since these facets can help the salt absorb more moisture. It is also used for things like making ice cream and even salting roads in the winter; in this case, it may also be known as “rock salt.” In the ice cream making process, the salt is added to the ice crystals packed around the container in an ice cream maker to lower their freezing point, making the ice cream even colder.

The large grains make kosher salt unsuitable for some cooking applications. It is not generally used as a table salt, for example, since the grains are too large to dissolve when they are sprinkled onto food. This salt is also not the best choice for baking, since the grains will clump in baked goods, rather than separating out and melting into the recipe, as is desired. It can be used to add a crunchy texture to top focaccia or to make a crust for roasted fish, often with a very dramatic effect.

Plain table salt comes in a range of styles as well, in addition to the standard fine grained variety. Fleur de sel, for example, is a fine, flaky type of sea salt from France that tastes more natural than refined, iodized salt. For sprinkling on already cooked foods and baking, table salt is preferable, but cooks may want to explore the wide variety of gourmet and specialty salts at their disposal.

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anon967353
Post 12

Food for thought: Iodine insufficiency has been largely eliminated from the US population mainly because salt manufacturers add Iodine to their salt. Iodized salt is our main food source of iodine. Iodine is necessary, particularly for proper thyroid function. Kosher salt and sea do not contain iodine.

anon356603
Post 11

Sea salt tastes saltier with less sodium added to any dish. Choose sea salt if you are trying to watch your salt intake.

anon339734
Post 10

I use Kosher salt in all my cooking (except baking) in a restaurant kitchen. I think its milder flavor enhances the taste of the other ingredients better. Kosher salt generally doesn't work well in most table salt shakers because of the larger crystals. Plus, if you are adding salt at the table, you're looking for a brighter salt taste, which table salt delivers.

TreeMan
Post 9

I just bought some coarse kosher salt the last time I was at the store, and I really like it. I just recently got interested in cooking more, and thought that I ought to invest in better ingredients. My whole life I have just used table salt for everything, but I can really tell a difference now.

Like someone else mentioned, it seems like the kosher salt has a slightly milder flavor than iodized salt. I am not generally a fan of adding salt to things, but I really like sprinkling a few dashes on top of the homemade fries I make. It gives them such a better taste than regular salt.

I have heard that kosher salt starts to lose its flavor after a couple years, though. Is that true?

cardsfan27
Post 8

I have never heard of using kosher salt or anything besides table salt for use in ice cream makers. It seems like that would be a pretty expensive thing to do.

As far as I know, all you're really looking for when you're adding the salt to the ice is just a certain amount of salt. I don't see any reason why kosher salt would lower the temperature any better than the cheapest salt you can find at the store.

jmc88
Post 7

@jcraig - I actually stumbled upon this article while I've been trying to find the difference between all of the different salts. I was watching a cooking show where the host was stressing the importance of using kosher salt vs sea salt. To be honest, though, I can't figure out why it makes a difference.

I think it is pretty clear that table salt has very fine grains and should be used in baking. From what I have found, kosher salt is basically sea salt that hasn't been processed and had preservatives added to it. I guess that is what makes it kosher.

As far as I can see, you're better off just buying regular sea salt unless you actually need kosher salt for the fact that it's kosher.

jcraig
Post 6

@BelugaWhale - I guess I am on the other side of the argument. I can tell a big difference between regular salt and sea salt. I know it sounds weird, but sea salt is "saltier" to me. I guess because it usually comes in slightly larger chunks you are more likely to end up with little crunchy pieces in the food.

I always keep table salt and sea salt around, because they are good for different uses. I find sea salt to be better for coating things like steaks or anything that needs a crust. Like others have said, table salt is good when you want the crystals to spread through a mixture.

All that being said, I don't get how they make salt kosher. Is there really any difference in the way kosher sea salt is made compared to non-kosher sea salt besides the price?

ChickenLover
Post 5

@BelugaWhale - I think a lot of people feel the same way when they are looking to buy kosher salt or regular salt, you know? A lot of people like to go off of hear say as well and I don't think you should just on other people's opinions. It's really a matter of personal experience or opinion, but that's just how I see it. While some people feel the same as you, I can most definitely tell the difference between Kosher and iodized salt. The iodized salt is more powerful, I think.

BelugaWhale
Post 4

@doppler - Kosher salt and sea salt are different, yes. I think regular sea salt is most definitely not Kosher... but couldn't say for sure. I looked it up online and found that there are several different options for Kosher sea salt. I think sea salt is just a waste of time, though, as all salts seem the same to me. They are a spice and serve their purpose well, I think. So it doesn't really make a difference to me what their crystals look like under a microscope.

doppler
Post 3

@abiane - That is so funny. I bought a box of Kosher salt for a home made Chicken Noodle Soup I was making the other day and thought the same thing when I saw a picture and recipe for roasted potatoes on the back of the box. So silly. Is Kosher sea salt any different than using "regular" Kosher salt?

abiane
Post 2

@spasiba - I agree that using Kosher salt brands in cooking seems so much more substantial that using iodized or regular table salt. There is just something about Kosher salt that makes me feel like I'm cooking. Plus you always find the best recipes on the back of that big box of salt. Yum!

spasiba
Post 1

Kosher salt is best when used in cooking, while table salt, although good in cooking, is better then kosher salt when used for baking. I believe the smaller crystals of table salt get better incorporated through baked goods.

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