Kosher salt – what is it and why use it?

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 can also be known 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 and does not relate to the salt being made under any religious principles such as being blessed by a Rabbi.  The dry-brining process increases the flavor of the meat and sometimes additional herbs and spices are added during the process to infuse stronger flavors. 

How is kosher salt made?

The salt is a naturally occurring flaky coarse-grained mineral and is found in rock salt deposits in salt mines.  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 also does not generally go through an iodizing process so therefore is considered more natural than refined salts. 

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

Because of the larger crystalline structure, kosher salt is sometimes referred to as diamond crystal salt.  It can be used in most types of cooking, with some baking recipes also enjoying the odd sprinkle of it.  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 and is regularly used, and endorsed, by chefs around the world. 

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, help with weight loss. ease sore joints, helps keep bad breath at bay, and has been known to help with skin conditions.  More can be found in our article on Kosher salt health benefits.

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?

Salt is needed in our daily diet but like everything else, too much of one thing may cause problems and 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
  • Stroke
  • Heart health
  • Osteoporosis/brittle bones

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) – or about equal to 1 standard teaspoon of salt.  But as kosher salt contains larger crystals this should be reduced 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

Summary

Salt is good for you – in moderation! Just remember you need to consider the amount you are adding to your food during cooking and also at the table. You also need to remember to adjust the quantities relative to the variety of salt you are using as each 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.

More ideas

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?