What exactly is kosher salt? Kosher is the Hebrew term meaning “lawful” – this means that kosher salt contains only those minerals and salts that are permitted according to Jewish law. kosher salt comes from a natural occurrence, but is separated into two different categories based on its chemical make up. The first category is kosher sea salt and the second is kosher salt chloride.
So, what is kosher salt anyway? Kosher sea salt is manufactured from the salt deposits found in many of the world’s largest salt mines. The salt crystals are heated to temperatures above 200 degrees and then filtered through a mesh screen to remove impurities and debris. Only the premium, cleanest kosher salt is used. So, what makes kosher salt so special?
First of all kosher salt is produced by soaking certain grains in seawater for extended periods of time – some say up to six months! Then the grains are placed in special compartments where they are allowed to slowly evaporate into the seawater. Only the very cleanest kosher salt is collected and re-refilled with fresh grains. The other kosher salt is refined and made table salt by another process.
In addition to kosher salt, there are two other types of sea salt: kosher (and colored) sea salt and traditional sea salt. Colorless kosher sea salt is derived by treating the seawater with chlorine and then filtering the solution through a carbon filter bed. Afterward, the solution is further treated with iodine and chlorides. Most of this type of kosher salt is used as table salt because it is cheaper than table salt mined from fossil deposits. It contains trace amounts of iron and potassium. However, the presence of these trace minerals doesn’t make it any better for cooking.
Kosher (and coarse salt) crystals are formed when potassium (but not iron) and magnesium are present. They vary in size and therefore thickness. Fine kosher salt flakes tend to be finer than coarse kosher salt flakes. Closer to the shore, there are also clover flakes which are smaller and darker than kosher salt flakes. Clover flakes are ideal for sprinkling on salads.
Some people question the ability of kosher salt to bring flavor to food. They argue that the use of such a salty form of seasoning destroys the natural flavor of certain foods. However, recent scientific research shows that the salt actually enhances the flavor of food by enhancing the mineral content. It is believed that the fine kosher salt crystals help to release these minerals from the seawater onto the food. This allows your food to have an improved flavor, but without the artificial additives of many other types of seasoning.
It is important to realize that the kosher salt you buy at the supermarket is not necessarily the same as coarse-grained salt. Many brands of kosher salt contain only kosher salt and no other mineral content. In order to have a salt with all the trace minerals, you must purchase a kosher salt supplement. A salt supplement will include a variety of minerals such as manganese, calcium, and magnesium among others. It should also be made with a high amount of rock salt, which has the added benefit of not weighing your food down while retaining its essential minerals.
Kosher and coarse-grained salt can both have a very wide array of uses and benefits. Each has their own special purpose, depending upon the product they’re used for. For instance kosher salt tends to be used to season baked foods while coarse-grained salt is often used as a drain-blood cleanser. The type of kosher salt you decide to use is a personal decision. There are so many options out there, it’s quite impossible to say which is right for you. However, you’ll definitely enjoy all the benefits that kosher salt brings to your table.