What is kosher salt?
So what exactly is kosher salt and what are the benefits of using it?
Kosher salt is a type of coarse salt. It has no additives and its main constituent is sodium. Known also as rock salt, flake salt, or koshering salt. The salt is harvested from land salt mines and has a larger flake size than other naturally occurring salts. Because of its larger flake size, it is generally used during the cooking process rather than being served at the table.
Why is it called kosher salt?
The term ‘kosher’ refers to its use in the Jewish religious practice of dry-brining. Is kosher salt blessed? Well, no, the term kosher does not relate to the salt being produced under any religious principles, such as being blessed by a Rabbi. The dry-brining process increases the flavor of the meat. Also additional herbs and spices can be added during the process to infuse stronger flavors.
How is kosher salt made?
The salt is a naturally occurring coarse-grained mineral found in rock salt deposits. The salt does not normally go through the process of having anti-clumping or anti-caking agents and other additives added so it retains its large diamond crystal structure. It is considered more natural than processed salts as it does not go through an iodizing process.
Kosher salt is made through a process that involves evaporation and the removal of impurities. Here’s a general overview of how it is made:
- Kosher salt can be derived from various sources, including underground salt deposits or sea salt. The source of the salt will determine its mineral content and flavor.
- If the salt is sourced from the sea, it is typically harvested by evaporating seawater in large salt ponds or pans. Natural evaporation allows the water to evaporate, leaving behind salt crystals.
- The salt crystals are washed with water to remove impurities, such as dirt and other particles. This washing process helps create a cleaner and purer salt product.
- After washing, the salt crystals are ground into smaller particles, resulting in the coarse texture characteristic of kosher salt. The size of the salt crystals can vary depending on the specific brand or manufacturer.
- It typically does not contain additives like iodine or anti-caking agents that may be present in some table salts. This makes kosher salt a popular choice for those who prefer a more natural, pure salt flavor without additional ingredients.
The name “kosher salt” does not refer to the salt’s preparation process. Instead, it is called kosher salt because it is commonly used in the koshering process of meat preparation in Jewish dietary traditions. The larger crystals of kosher salt make it ideal for drawing out moisture from meat.
It’s important to note that the exact methods used to produce kosher salt can vary among manufacturers. Different brands may have slight variations in the process or mineral content, resulting in differences in flavor and texture.
What does iodizing mean?
Some salts undergo a process called ‘iodizing’ which involves salt, such as refined table salt, being sprayed with potassium iodate to introduce a source of iodine. Iodine is a dietary mineral found in the food supply in both the soil and near sea coasts in some regions, however, if iodine levels are found to be low then iodine is added to provide the amount needed by humans.
Kosher salt vs Sea Salt
Kosher salt can also be referred to as diamond crystal salt. This is because of its larger crystalline structure. It can be used in most types of cooking, with some baking recipes also enjoying the odd sprinkle. It has a lager flake size than sea salt. The larger flake size, lack of additives, and less refinement and processing all lend towards a more natural product.
Benefits of Kosher salt
When using salt in your diet remember that too much of a good thing can be bad for you. Always check the recommended daily guidelines to ensure you are not consuming too much salt.
Is Kosher salt good for you?
Using the recommended amounts of salt in your diet can aid digestion and help with weight loss. Furthermore it is believed it can also help ease sore joints, keeps bad breath at bay, and has been known to help with skin conditions. Find out more in our article on Kosher salt health benefits.
Kosher salt, like other types of salt, does not provide significant nutritional benefits apart from its sodium content. However, it can enhance the flavor of food and be part of a well-balanced diet when consumed in moderation.
Here are a few things to consider about kosher salt:
- Sodium Intake: Kosher salt, like all salt varieties, is high in sodium. Excessive sodium consumption can contribute to high blood pressure, water retention, and other health concerns. It’s important to limit sodium intake and be mindful of portion sizes when using kosher salt.
- Texture and Use: It has larger crystals compared to table salt, which can make it easier to pinch and sprinkle. Its coarse texture is often favored by chefs for seasoning meats and other dishes during cooking. However, when it comes to measuring sodium content, both kosher salt and table salt have similar sodium levels.
- Iodine Content: Unlike iodized table salt, kosher salt generally does not contain iodine, which is an essential nutrient for thyroid function. If you rely solely on it for seasoning and do not consume other iodine-rich foods (such as seafood or iodized salt), you may need to ensure iodine intake from other sources or consider iodine supplementation.
As with any ingredient, moderation is key. It’s important to balance your overall sodium intake by incorporating a variety of flavorful herbs, spices, and natural ingredients into your meals. If you have specific dietary concerns or health conditions, consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized advice on salt intake and a well-rounded diet.
Kosher salt side effects
There are always two sides to any story – so if there are any health benefits surely there must be some negative ones.
Is kosher salt bad for you?
We need salt in our daily diet but like everything else, too much of one thing may cause problems. It is the same with salt. The overuse of any salt may lead to serious health conditions.
Sodium, contained within all salt, helps maintain your body with certain critical functions. If you have too much sodium in your diet you are more likely to suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure) which can then cause other health problems.
A high-sodium diet, and not following the daily recommended guidelines, may have negative impacts on your body and cause health issues due to:
- High blood pressure
- Damage to kidneys
- Damage to liver
- Heart health
- Osteoporosis/brittle bones
Recommended salt intake daily guidelines
The daily recommended guidelines advise that the minimum amount of salt an adult should consume should be less than 6g per day (2.4g sodium). This is about equal to 1 standard teaspoon of salt. But as it contains larger crystals you should reduce the quantity of kosher salt used to just half a teaspoon.
- One teaspoon of refined table salt contains 6g of which the sodium content is 2,325 mg
- One teaspoon of sea salt contains 5g of which the sodium content is 1,872 mg
- One teaspoon of kosher salt contains 3g of which the sodium content is 1,120 mg
Salt is good for you – in moderation! Just remember you need to consider not only the amount you are adding to your food during cooking but also what you sprinkle over your food at the table. You also need to remember to adjust the quantities relative to the variety of salt you are using. Each variety of salt has a different crystal size.
There tends to be a lot of hidden salt within the processed food that we eat. So take your time and check that you are not going over your daily allowance.
If you would like to find out about other types of salt, or find out how to use salt in your cooking, why not pop on over to our Salt Products and Salt Recipe sections?