Ask Jamie Geller - What's Kosher Salt?

Jamie Geller
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what is kosher salt

Hi Jamie,

I recently saw one of your videos on which you referred to “kosher salt.” What do you mean by that? Are there different kinds of salt?

- Elana


Great question, I can see how that can be confusing. One day, on set, when we were shooting a bunch of episodes for my cooking show, my cameraman actually stopped me and said “stop repeating ‘kosher salt’ everyone knows it’s kosher.” So I’m sure there are others wondering the same thing. Here’s the deal.

Kosher salt is a large, coarse grain salt (Hubby lovingly refers to it as pretzel salt), and works well in cooking, it really enhances the natural flavors of your ingredients. It actually draws out those flavors, as opposed to just imparting a salty taste. But kosher salt should only be used in cooking, not baking, because the coarse grains won’t entirely dissolve. It’s called kosher salt, by the way, because it’s the type of salt used for koshering meat – the large grains do a better job of absorbing the blood from meat than the fine grain salt.

Sea salt like kosher salt has larger grains. It’s formed from evaporated sea water and is best used for cooking, not baking.

Table salt is the kind most commonly used in your salt shaker during meals, hence the name table salt. It’s very fine grained and can be used for everything, including baking.

As a general rule of thumb, kosher salt and sea salt are a chef’s best friends for those oh-so savory dishes – it’s easy to pinch when seasoning. To me, a sprinkle of Kosher salt just before serving is the perfect finish to my dish, when added at the end it imparts a slight crunch and briny taste. Table salt is the baker’s buddy, because it dissolves so completely.

When I first discovered kosher salt, I was a Morton’s Girl. There was something about that little girl and her umbrella…dunno, but I felt nostalgic just looking at it. So I always bought Morton’s kosher salt. But on one shopping trip there was no Morton’s, so I tried Diamond Crystal Salt. That’s how I discovered that the Diamond Crystal coarse grain is a not the same size as Morton’s (they actually use a different manufacturing process), so you have to measure differently to get the proportions right. Not all coarse salts and not even all Kosher salts are the same! Who knew? And as an extra bonus I will let you in on a little secret, 1 teaspoon of table salt actually has more salt than 1 TABLESPOON (added for emphasis, just so you don’t miss it) of kosher or sea salt because of its fine grains.

So my solution is to pick a brand, get to know how much of it you need in your recipes, and stick to it. That way, you won’t under-salt or over-salt your food.

For an awesome article on kosher salt, check out this one from the New York Times titled 'Warning: Measure Your Salt.'