Friday, February 14, 2014

Salt... what's the difference?

When it comes to salt there are just so many choices these days! What are the differences between table, kosher and sea salts? When should you use them?

As one of our five basic tastes, it enhances the flavor of our food. It's also a nutrient that our body can't live without. But salt is still salt, right? All salt is sodium chloride, but it can differ in texture, size and mineral content. Salt occurs naturally either from rock deposits or evaporated seawater.

Table salt: 

"Common salt" is small, uniformly cube shaped crystals. This salt dissolves easily making it universally useful. It has additives to make it free flowing and sometimes is iodized which can have a chemical aftertaste. Iodine is an essential trace mineral that is crucial for our thyroid to function properly. If you prefer to not buy iodized salt, cranberries, organic yogurt and potatoes are also rich in iodine.

Kosher salt:

These coarse salt grains are formed by raking during the evaporation process. The shape of the crystal makes it easy to sprinkle on foods. It sticks nicely to meat, making it a "go to" salt for many cooks. 
Not only is most kosher salt certified kosher by a rabbi or authorized organization, it is also named after the process of "koshering meat." Koshering is the process by which the blood is removed from the flesh of meat and fowl before it is prepared for eating. Salt is sprinkled on raw meat, drawing blood out of the meat and then the salt and blood are rinsed off. 
Kosher salt has as much sodium by weight as table salt, but because kosher salt has larger crystals it has less sodium by volume. If a recipe calls for kosher salt and you want to substitute table salt, use half as much table salt. Rule of thumb: 1 teaspoon of kosher salt = 1/2 teaspoon table salt.

Sea Salt

Sea salt is made by evaporating seawater. This takes a long time, and therefore sea salt is quite expensive. The crystals are irregularly shaped and vary greatly in color. The minerals in the sea water impart a unique flavor. Sea salt, because of its expense, is better used to finish off a dish rather than using it in coking or baking.

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