Kosher vs. Table vs. Sea Salts

Written by  Thursday, 15 November 2012


What are the different types of salt, and how do their characteristics differ?

Whether mined from underground salt deposits or obtained by evaporating seawater, salt in its most basic form is the same: sodium chloride. What distinguishes one salt from another is texture, shape, and mineral content. These qualities can affect how a salt tastes as well as how it interacts with other foods.


Table salt, also known as common salt, consists of tiny, uniformly shaped crystals created during rapid vacuum evaporation. It usually includes anticaking agents that help it pour smoothly.
How We Use It: Fine-grain table salt dissolves easily, making it our go-to for most applications, both sweet and savory.
Shopping Tip:   To optimize flavor, avoid iodized salt, which can impart a subtle chemical taste that is detectable by some consumers.


Coarse-grain kosher salt is typically flaky crystals, originally used for koshering meat. Not all kosher salts are created equal.  Diamond Crystal kosher salt is one that features multi-faceted crystals that cling well to food, the only one of its kind in the United States.   Also, unlike most other kosher salts, this one has no additives.
How We Use It: Kosher salt is our top choice for seasoning meat. The large grains distribute easily and cling well to the meat's surfaces.
Shopping Tip: The crystal sizes of kosher salt differ considerably, and this makes a difference when measuring by volume.


Sea salt is the product of seawater evaporation--a time-consuming, expensive process that yields irregularly shaped, mineral-rich flakes that vary widely in color but only slightly in flavor.
How We Use It: Don't bother cooking with pricey sea salt; we've found that when mixed into food, it doesn't taste any different from table salt. Instead, we use it as a "finishing salt," where its delicate crunch stands out.
Shopping Tip: Texture--not exotic provenance--is the main consideration. Look for brands boasting large, flaky crystals.


Republished with permission from: Cook's Illustrated
Published November 1, 2010


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