Kosher salt is a popular ingredient in any kitchen and is a crucial tool for chefs. The salt is sourced naturally from either seawater or harvested from salt mines. All types of salt contain sodium chloride, but the harvesting and production processes impact their use in cooking. Kosher salt is a flaky variety, and its structure depends on how it is harvested. The crystals can either be flat or shaped like small, hollow pyramids. This type of salt is great for use in any kitchen because its larger crystals are easy to pinch and control between fingers.
Origins of Kosher Salt
Kosher salt gets its name from the Jewish practice of "koshering" meats. In Jewish kosher tradition, for meat to be kosher, the animal must be slaughtered in a specific fashion. The blood is drained from the meat to prepare it for consumption, and the process typically involves using "koshering salt" to draw out the blood. Merchants began marketing this koshering salt more simply as kosher salt, and this is how we know it today. Any pure salt is technically kosher, but the refinement and production process can change this. Some salt is certified kosher, meaning it has been certified by a rabbi from an organisation.
Difference between Sea Salt and Kosher Salt
Table salt is derived from sodium chloride that is sourced from underground salt deposits and then refined to remove any other minerals or impurities. It consists of small, fine, evenly shaped grains, almost like a powder, and it is quite dense. This means you don’t have to use much as a little goes a long way. Sometimes table salt is iodised, meaning it has been fortified with potassium iodide, or it may contain added anti-caking agents like calcium silicate.
Kosher salt is less refined than table salt, and thus more pure. The flakes aren’t quite as compact as table salt, meaning it isn’t as dense. It is usually mined from underground deposits, but is also sourced by using evaporation techniques. The flakes are easier to hold and distribute evenly, and it takes longer to dissolve, which makes it far more versatile in the kitchen than table salt.
Sea salt is the least refined of all three types, and usually comes as small, clear crystals that can be fine or coarse. As the name implies, flakes are harvested from evaporated seawater. There are many different varieties from around the world, each with their properties, such as flavours, colours, and residual trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium and potassium. Sea salt is the least versatile of all salt types and is commonly used for seasoning, and it is typically more expensive.
Uses of Kosher Salt in the Kitchen
Kosher salt is a vital ingredient in any kitchen and should be a key weapon in the arsenal of any chef. Its flaky texture makes it easy to pinch when cooking. This means that you can distribute your salt with greater precision. The iodine in table salt can often leave an unpleasant taste in dishes, especially for those that are sensitive to it. The strong briny flavour of sea salt means it isn’t particularly suitable for all seasoning applications. Kosher salt, on the other hand, has a pure, less intense flavour, which makes it a great all-rounder in the kitchen.
It is great to use when seasoning meat or vegetables with your hands before cooking. It is great for seasoning salads, soups or sauces because the grains are easy to pinch and toss. It is also great to have handy on your dining table to salt your dishes to taste. It can be used in baking, BBQ’ing, for seasoning chips or popcorn, curing, or for just about any recipe that specifies to use “coarse salt”. Kosher salt is also perfect for pickling and brining because it dissolves easily and evenly, ensuring that the flavours are evenly distributed throughout the liquid. Additionally, because it is free of additives like iodine, which can affect the flavour and colour of pickles and brines, kosher salt is often preferred by home cooks and professional chefs alike for these applications.
Where Does Kosher Salt Come From?
Kosher salt is made from the same chemical compound as any other salt, sodium chloride. However, what sets it apart is the way it is produced. Kosher salt can be sourced from both underground salt deposits and evaporated seawater. However, the way it is harvested and processed is what makes the difference.
Typically, kosher salt is harvested by either dissolving salt in water and then evaporating it or mined from underground salt deposits. Once the salt is harvested, it is processed to remove any impurities or minerals, leaving behind pure sodium chloride flakes.
What Is Kosher Salt Made Of?
Kosher salt is made up of pure sodium chloride flakes. Unlike table salt, kosher salt does not have any added anti-caking agents or iodine. It is less refined than table salt, and its flakes are not as compact, making it easier to handle and distribute.
How Is Kosher Salt Made?
Kosher salt can be made in two ways: through mining or evaporating. Mining is the process of extracting salt from underground deposits, while evaporating involves dissolving salt in water and then evaporating it.
If kosher salt is mined, it is typically extracted using dynamite or other explosives, and then transported to processing facilities, where it is crushed and purified to remove any impurities. The purified salt is then packaged and sold.
If the salt is produced through evaporating seawater, it is collected in salt pans and left to evaporate naturally in the sun, resulting in pure salt crystals. The salt crystals are then harvested and processed to remove any impurities, leaving behind pure sodium chloride flakes.
Why Is It Called Kosher Salt?
Contrary to popular belief, kosher salt is not called so because it is certified kosher or has any special status in Jewish dietary law. Instead, it gets its name from the traditional Jewish practice of "koshering" meat.
To prepare meat for consumption according to Jewish law, it must be drained of all its blood. To facilitate this process, a coarse salt is often used to draw out the blood. This coarse salt is known as "koshering salt," and it is the same type of salt that is marketed as kosher salt.
In short, kosher salt is a versatile ingredient that every chef should have in their kitchen. Its large, flaky crystals make it easy to handle and distribute, and its pure taste makes it suitable for a wide range of dishes. It is less refined than table salt and does not contain any anti-caking agents or iodine. While it is called "kosher salt," it is not necessarily certified as kosher and can be used by anyone.
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