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Salt differences: texture, grain size

I see hosts on cooking shows who specify kosher salt or sea salt. I thought salt was salt. Is there a difference?

As far as the composition of salt goes, there isn't a difference. Sodium chloride is sodium chloride.

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The main differences are texture, grain size and source. Table salt is mined and usually contains calcium silicate to keep it from clumping. Iodized salt has a little iodine, to keep your thyroid healthy.

Sea salt can be made from evaporated seawater or mined from rock salt. Kosher salt is similar to table salt, but has no additives and the grains are larger.

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Chefs often use different salts for different things. Sea salt can have slight taste differences from minerals in the water, but the main advantage is texture. Its crisp flakes are sprinkled over foods as a finishing touch. Because it costs more, you wouldn't want to use it in cooking where it will dissolve, because you'll lose that effect.

Kosher salt is larger grains, so when you take a pinch, you get a little more. Because it doesn't have iodine or anti-caking ingredients, some cooks prefer it in making brines to soak meats and poultry.

Table salt can be substituted in most recipes but, because the grains are smaller, more of it will fit in a measuring spoon. Adjust the recipe accordingly.

One final note: There are some products being sold on the Internet that make health claims for different salts. Our advice: Take those claims with a grain of salt.


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