What is salt made of?
Each type of salt is primarily made of sodium chloride, the mineral responsible for salt’s most important qualities. Without this mineral, cooking salt wouldn’t have taste-enhancing capabilities, curing salt wouldn’t be able to preserve meat, and rock salt wouldn’t be able to make your favourite frozen treats taste creamier.
But most types of salt aren’t just made of sodium chloride. Iodine in table salt and minerals like iron in Celtic salt and Himalayan salt slightly alter how these types of salt affect your dish. Other types of salt like black salt and celery salt take it a step further by incorporating herbs and spices that totally change their flavour profiles.
In contrast, kosher salt isn’t too special regarding what it’s made of. In fact, it’s mostly sodium chloride. However, the popularity of kosher salt goes beyond its taste and texture.
Why do people use kosher salt?
Cooks use kosher salt in a lot of ways, primarily as a tool for preparing meat that adheres to traditional Jewish dietary practices. Since kosher salt is particularly good at drawing out moisture, this specific salt is often used to remove all the blood from a piece of meat.
With that said, kosher salt isn’t limited to Jewish cuisine! Cooks around the world, Jewish or not, love using kosher salt as it gives them more control in the kitchen.
Unlike more common kinds of salt, kosher salt is made up of large, coarse flakes that are easier to handle with your fingers and easier to see on your ingredients, both of these factors help you manage the salt content of your dishes.
The size of the flakes also makes kosher salt less dense than finer salts. This helps prevent over-salting as it takes more kosher salt to achieve the same level of saltiness as a smaller amount of table salt.
Kosher salt is also a lot purer than most kinds of salt. Since kosher salt is mostly sodium chloride and doesn’t have other minerals in the mix, it can give a more concentrated burst of saltiness to your food.
With all that being said, it’s not the end of the world if you can’t find kosher salt for your kitchen. While it offers some benefits, the differences in taste and texture are pretty much unnoticeable when it gets dissolved during the cooking process.
However, if you plan on using other kinds of salt, note that you can’t just directly substitute kosher salt with more common kinds. Instead, you’ll have to take a couple of extra steps.
How do you substitute kosher salt?
Since kosher salt is indistinguishable from other cooking salts once dissolved, you can substitute it with common kinds like table salt or ground sea salt. However, if you use finer salts, you need to adjust the amounts listed in recipes to account for the differences in density. Otherwise, you might end up adding too much salt to your food.
On that note, you’ll also have to note the brand of salt that the recipe calls for because the size and shape of salt flakes can vary. For example, while it takes 1 ½ tablespoons of Morton kosher salt to substitute a tablespoon of table salt, it takes 2 tablespoons of Diamond Crystal kosher salt to substitute the same amount. So if the recipe doesn’t call for any specific brand, your best bet is to follow conversions that use less salt.
With all that said, you also have the option of using Maldon salt as a one-to-one substitution for kosher salt. Just keep in mind that Maldon salt is a finishing salt rather than a cooking salt, so a bag of it will be much more expensive.
All in all, kosher salt isn’t too different from regular cooking salts. If you need kosher salt for a recipe you can buy a bag from specialty stores, or you can easily substitute it as long as you get your conversions right.