Salt question....

What are the differences between table salt, kosher salt and sea salt? Can they be used interchangeably?



susan G. March 5, 2011
There's a misconception in the post from java&foam: "if you were cooking a kosher meal, you would need to stick with all kosher salt." What is labeled Kosher Salt (those big blue boxes) is for the purpose of drawing out blood from meats, to comply with Kosher law. There are other salts which are certified kosher (have a symbol identifying them) which are more conventional salts. Diamond and Morton produce "kosher salt." It is often recommended for pickling because it does not have the additives which would make the brine cloudy. I now see lots of recipes which specify it, particularly for something like soups and stews -- additive free salt at a cheap price --with a caution about measures. The 2 brands differ on the equivalent ratio to table salt, because they are made with different processes, and the weight to volume ratios are different.
Here's a good reference (and check her other salt articles):
latoscana March 5, 2011
Use 1/4 amount of table salt to replace kosher salt in a recipe (or reverse calculation if needed).
Confetti March 5, 2011
THANK YOU - I appreciate the help!
Greenstuff March 5, 2011
Table salts have anti-clumping agents, such as magnesium carbonate, and once you've tuned your palate, they can seem to give the salt off flavors. I don't use a lot of salt, so the outrageous prices of sea salts don't throw me off. I use a fine one or grind a coarse one for baking. La Baleine, from France is a pretty basic brand that comes in both fine and coarse grinds.

Then I have a big collection of fancier salts from around the world. They have different textures and surprisingly different tastes. My favorites are from northwest France. I don't use any of the fleur de sel types in cooking, as it would be a waste of the texture. I do use one fine-grained pink Himalayan salt, because it dissolves easily and it's not one of my favorites for a finish.
Peter March 5, 2011

They can be used interchangeably to salt your food at the table, but they most definitely can NOT be used interchangeably when baking -- or really in any recipe that calls for a specific quantity of salt.

If you think about it, table salt is a fine grain while kosher salt is very coarse. There's therefore more empty space -- i.e., air -- between grains of kosher salt than there is between grains of table salt. So you get less actual salt in say, a teaspoon of salt.

Another problem is the way the salt dissolve. Table salt will dissolve in a cake batter. Kosher salt? Maybe not. You may get bland cake with little salty crunches.

So... when the recipe doesn't specify (which is almost always) use table salt. If you only have another kind of salt google around and you'll find conversion tables on the web (and hopefully soon you'll find one on Food52!)
ChefDaddy March 5, 2011
Table salt is just that, table salt. But kosher salt is used mostly in my experience in general cooking and sea salt is great for a finishing salt and would work as any salt would but is a little pricey to do so. That's my take!
java&foam March 5, 2011
confetti, here is the food network's guide to all three of the salts. I think it covers all the bases really well.

as for using them, all of them can be used relatively interchangeably, since they are all salt. obviously if you were cooking a kosher meal you would need to stick with all kosher salt. sea salt tends to be on the more expensive side and while it does have a slightly different taste depending on the kind you buy, its best used as a finishing salt (like in a salad or what you would grind on top of your food at the table) for you to get that unique flavor in your finished dish. i reserved the uniodized salt for baking(i feel the uniform size helps it distribute more evenly), kosher for cooking and sea salt for salads and finishing things off at the table.

I hope this helps.
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