What exactly is kosher sea salt? Kosher sea salt is markedly different than normal table salt, in that it has large, irregular crystals with many small surface areas. In addition to its large crystal structure, kosher salt actually has trace minerals in its various forms. These minerals give kosher salt its naturally varied and rich flavor, as well as its use as a preservative in curing kosher foods.
Most sea salts are harvested from places in the world where there is regular, predictable rainfall. This harvesting method results in salt that is more concentrated and depleted of trace minerals than other types of sea salt. For instance, sand sea salt is harvested by digging down into the sandy bottom of pools and then grinding it up. Rock salt, on the other hand, is harvested from the same places using an industrial pressure mill, essentially grinding it up until it becomes a powder.
All kosher salt is however collected from deposits within the Dead Sea. The water in this region is so salty that not even plant life can survive for long without being driven underwater. The minerals found in the water are then filtered out and used for curing food products, although not all kosher salt contains the trace mineral grains that are found in seawater. Some salt counters are pre-rounded grains from rock salts, while others are flat grains. Either way, the grains are then pressed and shaped into flakes. Although the process for collecting and filtering the water makes use of mechanical means, each kosher salt slice still maintains its own identity even after it has been processed, even if it is pressed and shaped.
Kosher sea salt also goes by the names Chana Beni Zeben (iodized salt) and Naase Zeben (non-iodized salt). Table salt, as its name suggests, is commonly used in the United States and in many other countries around the world. However, it is also used as a table salt in the form of Himalayan sea salt, which is collected straight from the slopes of the Himalayan Mountains. Although the salt’s source is very different, both derive their names from the fact that they are able to withstand high temperatures and that no chemical processes have been used to transform them. This makes them ideal for use in a wide variety of dishes, including kosher sea salt and table salt, although they differ in their concentration levels and in the extent of particles they contain.
Many kosher sea salt varieties come packaged in plastic containers, which contain a number of different additives and preservatives. These additives and preservatives are normally necessary in order to ensure that the salt retains its saltiness, and does not loose its flavor or its moisture. However, some manufacturers choose to add trace amounts of other types of artificial ingredients to table salt, so that they can use them in place of natural substances, or in place of naturally occurring minerals and nutrients. For example, one company will include “bay granules” and “bay salt crystals” in its products. While this does make table salt similar in many ways to sea salt, it does not necessarily make kosher sea salt any more beneficial or desirable.
All kosher sea salts retain their key features and benefits: their naturally occurring elements and the added extras that help them retain their properties. But this does not mean that you cannot have your kosher salt and eat it too. There are certain key features that distinguish sea salts from table salts, and among those are the absence of additives. The key features of kosher salt include; its ability to maintain its saltiness even when exposed to high temperatures (such as when baking); its ability to retain its original form when placed in open air (which sea salts cannot do); and its ability to maintain the moisture in its crystal structure when placed in hot water (which sea salts cannot do). Each of these key features is important to kosher food, and to the kosher dietary requirements of our community.