What Are the Differences Between Kosher & Sea Salt?

Good Questions

Q: I hope this is not an ignorant question, but what exactly is the difference between kosher and regular salt, in terms of flavor?

Seems to me that kosher salt looks and tastes like regular coarse sea salt. Can you substitute one for the other, in terms of flavor and consistency?

Sent by Alexandra

Editor: Alexandra, the only differences between kosher salt and table salt (and really, between nearly every other sort of salt) lie in the shape and size of its crystals, not its chemical makeup. Kosher salt has large, rough crystals that take a long time to dissolve in the mouth. They crunch. A tablespoon of kosher salt will actually contain fewer salt crystals, by volume, than table salt, which has much smaller crystals.

There is no difference between kosher salt and rough "sea salt". Pretty much all salt has an identical chemistry. Some are smoked, or have trace elements of minerals that change their taste or color, but any differences between "kosher" and "sea" salt, provided the shapes of their crystals are the same, are purely in the labeling.

Kosher salt and flakier, more delicate salts that melt nicely on the tongue, tend to be used as finishing salts, adding the last crunchy, salty touch to a dish. Table salt is used more for seasoning a dish while still in process.

Here are a couple more good posts on salts:

All About Salt: How To Choose, Cook With And Store It
Selmilier Mark Bitterman: 5 Simple Truths about Salt

Readers, what else would you add?

Related: Curious Cooks: Why Is Table Salt Iodized?

(Image: Leela Cyd Ross)

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