Salt is the common name for monohydrate salt. Many different varieties exist and are used in many ways. When purchasing food to take with you, always check the ingredients to make sure that the salt on the packaging is indeed salt. Read the labels closely, if there is a lot of talk about the word “bleached”, this indicates that the salt used had been bleached using a procedure most likely not approved by the FDA.
Because there is no difference in salts that are kosher salt or sea salt, there can be huge variations in pickling products. First and foremost, it matters very much to understand your specific salt. There are three main classes; regular, kosher and sea salt. Regular salt is the salt you find in supermarkets and saloons. It is very similar to table salt and because of its more consistent distribution, it is one of the most widely used for pickling and baking purposes.
Kosher salt is harvested in a different manner than regular salt. The kosher salt contains a thin film of the mineral known as borate, which is added to the salt during the pickling process to prevent harmful rust forming. Sea salt is harvested by allowing the salty water to penetrate the upper layers of the ocean floor where it naturally occurs; sea salt is considered healthier than regular salt and kosher salt does not contain any borate.
In addition to the differences between kosher salt and sea salt, the properties of each product also create unique pickling recipes. Regular table salt will typically boil and dissolve in the fats/oils of food while sea salt will not dissolve at all. Regular salt will not lather up very well, and regular table salt will tend to make a salty taste to whatever it is prepared with. Kosher salt will not have any such problems as sea salt will not interact with acidic foods.
Salt crystals are formed naturally in salt mines around the world and the salt crystals that are harvested are used as an ingredient for various foods. Salt can also be found in natural formations around the world including salt lakes and salt cliffs. When natural sea salt or table salt comes into contact with certain acidic foods, a chemical reaction occurs which creates the salt crystals we recognize as kosher salt.
The color and flavor of kosher salt crystals are highly dependent on the alkalinity of the seawater they were formed in and on the particular type of crystal that was found. For example, salt formations found in Dead Sea salt mines were found to contain a highly alkaline concentration. As such, the salt crystals found in these deposits gave birth to an array of hues ranging from bright orange to pale pink. The most common of these minerals was red. Today, these salt deposits are commonly referred to as “ashes”.
Many of the salts produced today still come from Dead Sea salt mines, however, most salts come from different parts of the world. The main difference lies in the way the salt is processed. Dead Sea salt is processed by forcing boiling water through it to extract its minerals and salt content. Sea salt is processed differently in order to make it suitable for different uses. This is why the salt can be used for baking, cooking, salting meat and for industrial purposes such as salt substitutes.
Today, sea salt has become highly sought after because of its wide variety of uses. One of the most popular uses for sea salt is in the creation of kosher salt. However, this salt tends to be slightly more expensive than sea salt from inland sources. As such, the use of kosher salt has become more niche-oriented in recent years. Nevertheless, sea salt continues to remain a staple of the kosher food industry.