Kosher salt (also known as kitchen salt, cooking salt, flake salt, rock salt, koshering salt, or kashering salt) is coarse edible salt without common additives such as iodine. Used in cooking and not at the table, it consists mainly of sodium chloride and may include anti-caking agents.
Coarse edible salt is a kitchen staple, but its name varies widely in various cultures and countries world-wide. The term kosher salt gained common usage in North America and refers to its use in the Jewish religious practice of dry brining meats—known as kashering—and not to the salt itself being manufactured under any religious guidelines. Some brands further identify kosher-certified salt as being approved by a religious body.
Because the salt has a purer flavor due to the lack of metallic or bitter-tasting additives such as iodine, fluoride or dextrose, it is often used in the kitchen instead of additive-containing table salt, so such flavors are not introduced to prepared food. Estimating the amount of salt when salting by hand can also be easier due to the larger grain size. Some recipes specifically call for volume measurement of kosher/kitchen salt, which weighs less per measure due to its lower density and is therefore less salty than an equal volume measurement of table salt. Different brands of salt vary dramatically in density; for one brand the same volume measure may contain twice as much salt (by mass) as for another brand.
Brining / kashering meat
The coarse-grained salt is used to create a dry brine, which increases succulence and flavor and satisfies some religious requirements, sometimes with flavor additions such as herbs, spices or sugar. The meat is typically soaked in cool water, drained, completely covered with a thin layer of salt, and then allowed to stand on a rack or board for an hour or more. The larger salt granules remain on the surface of the meat, for the most part undissolved, and absorb fluids from the meat, which are then partially reabsorbed with the salt and any added flavors, essentially brining the meat in its own juices. The salt rub is then rinsed off and discarded before cooking.
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Due to its grain size, the salt is also used as an abrasive cleaner for cookware such as cast iron skillets. Mixed with oil, it retains its abrasiveness but can be easily dissolved with water after cleaning, unlike cleansers based on pumice or calcium carbonate, which can leave a gritty residue if not thoroughly rinsed away.
Rather than cubic crystals, kosher salt has a flat plate-like shape and may also have a hollow pyramidal shape. The flat form is usually made when cubic crystals are forced into this shape under pressure, usually between rollers. The pyramidal salt crystals are generally made by an evaporative process called the Alberger process. This salt is usually manufactured with a grain size larger than table salt grains.
- Pickling salt – Fine-grained salt used for manufacturing pickles
- Korean brining salt
- Pickling – Procedure of preserving food in brine or vinegar
- Curing (food preservation) – Food preservation and flavoring processes based on drawing moisture out of the food by osmosis
- Kosher foods – Foods conforming to Jewish dietary law
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