Kitchen Myths

Facts and fiction about food and cooking, by Peter Aitken

Kosher salt tastes better than “regular” salt

Many cooks and recipes specify that kosher salt be used. Why? Truth be told, because it’s trendy, mostly. Kosher salt is relatively pure sodium chloride, and so is the usual table salt that is available in every supermarket at half or less the price. If you think you can taste the iodine in iodized salt, buy the uniodized version and save some money.

I do like the larger grains of kosher salt because when cooking I prefer to grab salt with my fingers to add to a dish, rather than using a shaker, and the larger grains don’t stick to my fingers as much. But, I am not fooling myself that my food tastes better as a result.

By the way, kosher salt is really misnamed. It is not “kosher” in the sense that observant Jews can eat it, but can’t eat other salts. It’s true name is “koshering salt” because it is traditionally used to salt meats in the kosher butchering process.

20 responses to “Kosher salt tastes better than “regular” salt

  1. Ashera July 23, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Kosher and table salt do taste the same, but they have different densities. A tablespoon of table salt has a lot more salt than a tablespoon of kosher salt, so take care when substituting or you’ll end up with a very salty dish.

  2. kitchenmyths July 25, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    Good point! And to make things worse, different brands of kosher salt differ from one another.

  3. Jfraiche October 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    The structure and shape of salt also changes how it is ingested. One will notice you rarely (if ever) see granulated crystal shaped salt on sweets, however, flaked salt is often used on top of confections. The surface area of Kosher salt makes it better for finishing dishes, whereas table salt needs encouragement to break it down.

    • Louis Bricano October 16, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Look: if the salt dissolves, there is no “surface area” left. If you stir equivalent weights of table salt and coarse crystal salt into equal volumes of water, the salt dissolves completely in both, and you will not possibly taste any difference. When some recipe calls for some measure of salt to go into a whole lot of other ingredients, some of them wet, there is not going to be any detectable difference if you use table salt or coarse crystal salt, as long as you mind the different densities.

  4. Tracey October 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Kosher salt and iodized salt absolutely taste different. Iodized salt has a metallic flavor which a discerning palate can detect. Kosher has a much cleaner, pure salt flavor.

  5. LInda November 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I have to laugh at the high-dollar, tiny packages of ‘gourmet salt’ that some stores carry. It’s pink or green or brown. Other expensive types are are proudly labeled ‘sea salt’. Got news for all the people who spend a fortune on these things:
    Firstly, if it isn’t white, you’re eating dirt with your salt.
    Secondly, all salt is sea salt. ALL of it.
    It’s amazing how gullible supposedly intelligent people can be.

    • Alex Kro January 26, 2012 at 6:44 am

      Though I do agree with the sentiment in the gullibility of people overpaying for something just because it’s “gourmet” I have to disagree with both your points.
      1. Unless you call pepper dirt then a lot of “mixed salts” contain other stuff which add, retain or enrich the salt’s taste. Whether these are worth 3 times as much, that’s a whole different story!
      2. Not all salt is sea salt (obtained through evaporation), salt can be mined and refined for food use, widely known as table salt though the word ‘table’ does not guarantee that the salt is mined.
      Generally speaking, sea salt will have all its minerals and other elements (including iodine) which table salt won’t have so it MIGHT have a difference in taste.

      Personally, I believe that if you want your salt to have all the taste then your food is the problem!

      • kitchenmyths January 26, 2012 at 8:26 am

        I think we’re talking at cross-purposes. Kosher salt, the topic of my post, is a different thing than the specialty salts you are talking about, which can indeed contain traces of other materials that change the taste (e.e., red Hawaiian salt). Also, I believe the comment that “all salt is sea salt” refers to the fact that all salt, even that which is mined from underground, had its origin in the sea, albeit millions of years ago.

  6. Danielle November 14, 2011 at 1:19 am

    DIfferent brands of salt do taste different, though I don’t know I could tell regular iodized salt from regular uniodized salt as both kinds of salt from the ‘regular’ brand have a smell that makes me gag. No other salt bugs me, just that brand. It may be super cheap, but even the pretty pink salt at the store is inexpensive and comes in a giant bag where I live, and doesn’t smell nasty. Its cheaper than the salt labeled ‘sea salt,’ too.

  7. Sunny December 12, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I just had to comment – be careful if you cut out all iodized salt. I lived for 3 months in a country that does not iodize their salt, and by the time I came back to the States my neck (thyroid) was feeling tender. I didn’t know why until a friend suggested maybe it was an iodine deficiency – then it all clicked. After beginning to consume iodized salt again, the tenderness went away.

    Maybe I’m extra-sensitive…and there are other ways to get iodine. Just take caution! It used to be a major problem in the U.S. before the introduction of iodized salt.

    (Great blog by the way!)

  8. A December 30, 2011 at 7:22 am

    …”By the way, kosher salt is really misnamed. It is not “kosher” in the sense that observant Jews can eat it, but can’t eat other salts. It’s true name is “koshering salt” because it is traditionally used to salt meats in the kosher butchering process.”…

    Thats half correct: Things that are Kosher you can say there “organic”. The reason why Jews shouldn’t eat it is because in the Bible and Torha God said to take care of your body because its Gods Temple. Table salt like Morton Salt is not that good for you. that put Silicate (Aluminium) in it to keep it free flowing. Aluminium risk factor risk is Alzheimer’s disease.

    • kitchenmyths December 30, 2011 at 8:16 am

      Thanks for your post, but I am afraid you are wrong on 2 counts. First, the silicate added to salt is calcium silicate, which contains no aluminum. Second, it has been known for quite a while that there is no link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s (see my myth on that topic).

  9. Louis Bricano October 16, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    Could not agree more. “Kosher” salt is nothing but foodie trendiness, and calls for it in recipes should be ignored on those grounds alone. The salt itself is not “kosher” – it’s just coarse crystalled salt. I have a box of “Baleine” brand coarse sea salt, uniodized. It’s the same stuff. Any recipe that calls for “kosher” salt can use any salt, although you probably want to adjust the quantity for the different densities of table salt vs coarse salt. One thing is certain: when you’re adding a teaspoon or two of salt to any large recipe, there is simply no way you’re going to taste the iodine in iodized salt. Anyone who says he can is delusional.

    • demolaydadwasjussayin February 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Or allergic. Yes, I tell when any iodised salt is used in a recipe. I break out in large welts when iodised salt is used, regardless of whether I know which kind of salt is used. Sea salt contains trace amounts of iodine, but is somehow balanced or neutralised by all the other trace minerals and non sodium salts, like potassium and magnesium salts. My iodine intolerance has developed into a full blown allergy.

      Due to my prior avoidance of all salt, I take two prescriptions to bring my minerals up. Table salt generally has all other naturally occurring mineral salts removed except sodium chloride.

      • demolaydadwasjussayin February 13, 2014 at 10:34 pm

        Edit: For nearly fifty years I avoided adding salts. Most processed foods and fast foods, which I try to avoid, are loaded with who knows what kind of salt. However, I cannot avoid salt completely, because even if Charley the steer were completely drained of blood, the cells of his tenderloin would still have trace salt in them. And fish? Saltwater fish will have salt no matter how it is prepared. Sodium, chloride and mercury is tasty to some, but fish too, runs the risk of iodine.

  10. demolaydadwasjussayin February 13, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    I can easily tell the difference between plain anyname salt with no added iodine and iodized salt. My face breaks out in welts if I eat iodized salt. My iodine intolerance has gotten worse over the years. Sea salt rarely has iodine added, but does generally contain trace amounts of iodine, but as yet does not cause a reaction for me.

    Sea salt does contain other salts besides sodium, specifically, potassium and magnesium salts as well as trace amounts of others. I take prescription supplements because my Dr says all of my salts are low, and the non sodium salts help keep my blood pressure down, through various actions like vasodilation(K).

  11. Hannah February 14, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I wonder if removing iodized salt from our diets will have an impact on thyroid? What about making sure to supplement it into our diets when using kosher salts?

    • James April 1, 2017 at 12:32 pm

      A bit of history… About 200 years ago (before salt was fortified with iodine) nutritional chemists noted the wide difference in goiter and related issues based on geography. What they discovered was special is the areas with higher reports were also where people consumed less iodine, specifically salts that were naturally fortified with iodine (and other foods). Over the next 100 years, various parts of Europe tried to resolve this through educating people of the importance of iodine and informing them how they could get it in their diet.

      About 100 years ago, the same direct link was independently observed in the United States of America, specifically in the North West, the South East and the North East with up to 65% of the population being effected in some way. To fight this, iodized salt started being sold. By WW1 around 25%+ of the same population were still ‘sick’ enough that they couldn’t be drafted for the war effort.

      Point being that even in a developed nation capable of helping to win a World War, iodine deficiency was still a part of common life. Thanks to various committees this problem was mostly resolved.

      Skip ahead to about 50 years ago… parts of Mexico were getting iodine into the general diet by using iodine as part of the process to sanitize the milk bottles instead of putting it in the salt. Everything was going well with this method… until… they tried to save money. Without thinking about WHY they were using iodine, likely people forgot WHY they were told to sanitize with iodine or perhaps they didn’t believe the hype, they replaced this step and I can’t remember exactly, but I think they switched to boiling water or some type of heat. Point being… they were no longer fortifying the milk. Did it matter? YES, it sure did. They found themselves in a goiter epidemic. After an investigation they realized why.

      Today, there are various committees and groups, some international, that exist with the goal of making sure history doesn’t repeat itself in regards to iodine deficiency.

      Also today, it’s a medical fact that if you can taste the 0.0045% iodine in salt, then you are iodine sensitive to an obviously measurable extent. Why this is may also be important. If very small amounts of iodine lead to a metallic taste in your mouth, it’s likely you already have plenty of iodine in your system and may be approaching too much.

      My ultimate point, if you can taste the iodine in salt at levels of 0.0045%, then mention this to your doctor at your next visit and get yourself checked out. It may be nothing, but it’s worth having checked out, although without any other symptoms they may simply ignore it.

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