What is Kosher Salt? Kosher salt has a light grayish color, a bit softer than table salt and sea salts. Its coarse feel makes it an ideal substitute for table salt or sea salt. Its chemical make-up makes it rich in iodine, which helps keep a person’s thyroid gland healthy. But do these benefits really apply to sea salt or table salt?
Sea salt and table salt differ primarily in the way their chemical make-ups respond to different foods. Sea salt tends to be more absorbent of organic compounds, whereas table salt tends to lose these nutrients more rapidly. This absorption and loss process affect the texture, concentration and content of the seasoning. The texture is affected by the formation of “crystals”. These crystals are not fine crystalline powders but rough like sand, and each crystal contains an amount of sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, silicon, and other minerals.
Most of us are familiar with the term refined salt. Refined salt has a lower mineral and color concentration than raw sea salt. Its use as a seasoning makes it distinctively different from raw sea salt. In addition to its different coloration, the concentration of sodium, magnesium, iron and other trace elements is reduced. Refined salt contributes no flavor, and its texture is suitable for both baking and cooking. In cooking, its moisture content increases, which brings out its taste.
In contrast, table salt is made by treating the seawater with electricity and then filtering and drying the solution. It is commonly used as a seasoning for food and cooking, because of its low concentration of sodium (although it can have up to six milligrams of sodium). Table salt is not kosher, because its salt content is not below fourteen milligrams per one teaspoon. However, this minimal concentration is well below the minimal standards required for kosher cooking.
To clarify further, “kosher salt” should not really be confused with table salt. kosher salt has a higher concentration of sodium than table salt, which is the most common type in use today. Most of the salt in today’s kitchens comes from the kosher market, and is produced in such a way that is free from any of the substances mentioned above. kosher salt is used in the same way as regular table salt.
So how do we differentiate between the two? Sea salt is usually derived from sea water, and its composition is identical to seawater. As food travels through the ocean, its molecules get separated from the elements in the water, and these ions change their concentration depending on where they eventually land. The more often these ions land on an area of lower concentration, the more “real” the salt will look.
While kosher and table salt have the same composition, kosher salt tends to have a higher concentration of minerals. This makes the salt less “tasting,” as it lacks the minerals that make food taste salty. Many kosher cooks prefer to use sea salt, because it has a similar concentration of minerals to seawater. By contrast, sea salts are often cheaper, since most land-based salts are imported.
Salt is important but not as essential as many people believe. In moderation, it is fine on its own. But it can also be important for certain dishes, depending on what elements are in it. As a rule, salt is a key component of Jewish cuisine; just remember that the only thing that is strictly forbidden is adding salt to anything that would cause the flavor to change. And remember that you can still eat kosher if you do not eat sea salt!