You may have read about kosher salt, and seen it used in recipes – but what is it, and how does it differ from other cooking salts? Here we explain what makes Kosher salt so popular, and the best ways to use it in the kitchen.
What is kosher salt?
Kosher salt is loved by chefs for its fine crystals and delicate taste. Unlike many American salts, it is made with no added iodine, which gives it a softer flavour than traditional American table salt. In the UK, it is not compulsory to fortify salt with iodine, so we may not notice such a dramatic difference in flavour.
Kosher salt grains sit in between fine table salt, which pours smoothly from a shaker, and large sea salt flakes. Compared to sea salt, it is much easier to rub kosher salt between your fingers and sprinkle over a dish.
How do you use kosher salt?
- Seasoning a finished dish. The crystal size makes it easier to control kosher salt’s intensity – because a pinch of Kosher salt is less powerful than a pinch of standard fine-ground table salt.
- Seasoning as you cook. Once you get the hang of the ‘saltiness’ and feel of kosher salt, you’ll want to season all your dishes with it – naturally reaching for just the right amount as you season pasta water, sauces and stir fries.
- Salting and drying food. Kosher salt is very popular for salting food, as the flakes stick to food easily, and it doesn’t contain anti-caking agents which affect curing.
- Flavoured salt mixes. The texture of kosher salt makes it a good choice for combining with finely chopped herbs, citrus peel, chilli flakes or dried garlic for homemade flavoured salt. Serve your salt mix alongside good olive oil for dipping bread.
Why is it called kosher salt?
The name kosher salt refers to the Jewish tradition of ‘koshering’ meat, by drawing blood using salts. Kosher butchers chose this salt with slightly larger flakes, and so it became universally known as ‘Kosher salt’.
Which kosher salt should I buy?
Diamond Crystal kosher salt has a fantastic fine, almost crumbly texture – with no additives. It is referenced throughout The French Laundry cookbook, where Thomas Keller explains: “we use a specific brand of kosher salt, Diamond Crystal, because of the size of the grains. Salt is the primary seasoning ingredient we use. It heightens the flavour of everything across the board…without it, the flavour of meats and vegetables and fruit is a little flat, dead, fade, as they say in France – insipid. Salt opens up flavours, makes them sparkle.”
4 more of the best salts for cooking and eating
The soft flaky texture of Maldon sea salt crystals and the cleanness of the salt flavour they deliver makes this salt stand out.
Maldon sea salt is a beautiful finishing salt - great sprinkled over lamb, fresh asparagus and gougères. Or try Maldon sea salt in sea salt chocolate truffles or a salted caramel sauce.
Himalayan salt blocks are an exciting way of seasoning and serving food. The pink rock can be slowly heated or chilled to extreme temperatures. Use it to fry scallops, or even an egg in front of guests.
The salt block is great when chilled in the freezer, and used to present ice cream – toffee, chocolate and caramel flavours work particularly well with the block’s saltiness.
Activated charcoal sea salt is inspired by the Hawaiian tradition of blending charcoal with seawater to create an artisanal salt with a glistening black shine. The activated charcoal black sea salt is renowned for its oceanic, mineral flavour. The black lava salt has crunchy crystals, with real texture – but can be ground into a finer powder in a spice mill. Sprinkle on grilled fish, or even grilled pineapple or use to decorate pretzels. It also makes a dramatic garnish for pale foods like mozzarella or poached eggs.
Red alaea salt is a stunning salt made from purified sea water blending with Hawaiian red volcanic clay - known as 'alaea' in Hawaiian. In Hawaii, this clay is lauded for its health benefits. Indeed, it contains 80 different minerals, with a particularly high iron content which accounts for red alaea salt's striking colour. It’s lower in sodium than table salt.