Tuesday, April 12, 2011

INGREDIENT ESSENTIALS - KOSHER SALT

One of the things we consider to be absolutely essential in any kitchen is Kosher Salt.  The prevalence of cooking shows has brought this long used staple of commercial kitchens and restaurants into the mainstream.  But there is still some confusion out there.

It is not actually named that because it is Kosher, it is called that because of its use in making meats Kosher.  Unlike regular table salt, Kosher is usually made without additives.  Table salt is treated with iodide, hence the term "iodized salt".  Kosher salt will be about as 'all natural' as you can get without going to sea salt (which is great but has a much larger and irregular texture).

The grains are much courser shaped, and slightly flatter than the smaller, almost square, crystals of regular table salt.  This is the reason chefs and home cooks, such as 2nd Man, love this salt so much.  It's much easier to pick up between your fingers and it sticks well to foods that you sprinkle it on (roast chicken anyone?).  Please note that Kosher salt has less salinity (not as salty) as, well, regular table salt.  This being said, it takes a little more to match the saltiness of ordinary salt.  What we have found however, is that this makes us eat less salt in our diet and that's good all the way around.

One caveat, in baking, be sure to add it to the liquid ingredients so that it will dissolve fully.  If your baking recipe does not have a lot of liquid, you would be better off using regular table salt, so that you can avoid small bits of salt in your baked product.

There are several different brands, including generic and store brands.  We have found that Morton's, shown above, is our choice.  In a side by side comparison with Diamond Crystal brand and Morton brand, the latter grain is a bit courser and that's good.  Taste wise, we could tell no difference.  I'm sure chef's may have their favorites, but Morton's brand is the biggest seller.  A side note, we use a store brand, Kroger, for cleaning.  It works great when 2nd Man is cleaning his cast iron pans or needs something abrasive to scrub with (more on that in a future post). 

So........go out and get a box of Kosher salt.  A great way to try it first....get a whole chicken, rub it with some olive oil, sprinkle it with Kosher salt, some course ground pepper, and bake until done.  You'll never go back to "regular" salt again. 

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