Composed primarily of sodium chloride, salt is an essential nutrient which, besides imparting edibility to cooked food and salads, it allows our body to replenish the sodium reserves to the required levels. In the absence of appropriate amounts of sodium, which is a primary biological electrolyte, the body is unable to regulate the balance of water and other fluids within itself. Most of the varieties in their edible forms contain at least 95%-98% sodium, the rest being additives like iodine, anti caking agents, and the presence of tiny quantities of other electrolytes and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
It can be classified under two broad categories, refined and unrefined. Unrefined ones include hand harvested sea and mineral rich rock salts. Refined includes table, iodized, and kosher salt. So, what is it that separates table from kosher? Is it taste? Do they differ in texture? Is it about any inclusion or exclusion of a particular additive? Enlisted below are the key differentiating factors that will help you to closely understand the properties of both these varieties.
Refined salt which contains as much as about 99% sodium chloride and is commonly used for conventional cooking and seasoning purposes is known as table salt. It is white in color and usually has iodine and anti caking agents added to make it free-flowing. The grains are extremely fine in texture and are very small and more or less evenly shaped. It tastes more saline than most of the refined varieties and may often have a slight metallic flavor due to the presence of iodine.
It is identified by its large, flat, and platelet shaped grains which adopt such an appearance, due to the pressure they undergo during the evaporation process. This shape is forced upon the crystals and does not occur naturally. It does not contain any additives. However, it may occasionally contain certain anti-clumping agents in very small amounts. It gets its name from the Jewish dietary rules in accordance to which it is procured and processed. It tends to be somewhat less saline than standard refined varieties and lacks the metallic taste due to the absence of iodine additives. Due to its purer taste, most chefs and culinary experts prefer using it over the other refined varieties, for seasoning their recipes. Since it absorbs more fluids than table salt, it is commonly used to make meat kosher, by rubbing meat with it to absorb moisture and clean away the blood before using it for cooking.
Table to Kosher Salt Conversion
Since kosher is less saline than the standard refined variety (whether or not iodized), 1 tbsp. of table salt can be substituted by 1½ - 2 tbsp. of kosher. However, in a situation where you're substituting table with kosher, make sure you add more water to the recipe as the latter will tend to dry up the dish faster and more than the former, due to its superior water absorbing capacity. Also, if you add less water it will not dissolve completely. Therefore, it's not usually a good idea to use it for baked dishes.
So, as you can see, the difference is primarily in terms of texture and fluid absorption capacity with some slight differences in taste and salinity. As far as effects on health are concerned, if taken more than the recommended quantity, both of them cause damage to the body in similar ways like raising the blood pressure, causing water retention, increasing risk of stroke, cardiovascular disorders, and eating into bone density. Therefore, keeping these facts in mind, it is better to use table salt as it is more saline, which means that you need to use less of it to get the right taste as compared to kosher.
This ingredient is one of the key components for cooking any dish. You may miss out on other seasonings and spices, but you cannot cook a flavorsome meal without it. While including it in your diet, it is necessary to keep a strict eye over the quantity in order to reap the benefits.