People are socializing around the grill, the aroma of the meat has been hanging in the air for some time, but when you take your first forkful, you discover there’s not much difference between the meat and a tough old boot. It’s a big disappointment. Of course, brining the meat prevents that horrid result, but does it matter whether you use table salt or Kosher salt?
Although table salt and Kosher salt are interchangeable in a brine recipe, they are not equal in weight per unit volume. Table salt is heavier than Kosher salt. Thus, one would reduce the amount by approximately a half. If the recipe asks for the salt by weight, no change will be necessary.
Some culinary experts believe that Kosher salt is a far better choice and do not agree that all salts are so similar that it makes no difference which one you use in the kitchen.
This also applies to brining. However, salt is the key ingredient in brine, so it is worth digging a bit deeper to perfect the brine and avoid the after-grill disappointment.
Table Salt Vs. Kosher Salt In Brine
Suppose it comes to the point where you have already started making the brine and suddenly realize that you are out of Kosher salt. In that case, you can adjust the quantities and replace it with table salt. It will still do the job, but Kosher salt is the preferred ingredient.
Kosher salt is a better option for two reasons. First, its grains are coarser and wider, salting the food more gently than table salt.
Therefore, it improves the brine’s flavor or any other food, rather than simply making it saltier.
Then, Kosher salt contains no additives or iodine, as opposed to normally iodized table salt. Iodine can give food, including brine, a bitter taste. Brining is all about tenderness and flavor, so always use the best ingredients where possible.
The Amount Of Salt Required For Brine
The general rule of thumb for making brines is to use four tablespoons of Kosher salt for every 4 cups of water. If you need to replace the Kosher salt with the finer table variety, reduce it to 2-3 tablespoons.
You should also consider that different brands of Kosher salt differ in their saltiness, so if you are unsure, cut down on the brining time or the amount of salt.
The Functions Of Salt In Brine
There are two methods of brining meat: wet and dry, and whichever one you choose, it wouldn’t be brining without salt.
The salt flavors the meat and changes its physical nature, breaking down the proteins to allow the cells to hold much more liquid. It also tenderizes the cut, unraveling the muscle fibers and causing them to swell.
The meat retains so much liquid that it doesn’t all evaporate during cooking, making it softer and juicier. It also prevents lean cuts from drying out.
Different Types Of Salt
There are numerous varieties of salt, each with different characteristics. These can often have different effects on the food we are preparing. Kosher salt, table salt, rock salt, curing salt, and canning salt are readily available varieties.
Kosher salt is extremely pure, and its grains are reasonably large. Some brands contain an anti-caking agent such as yellow prussiate of soda, but this is tasteless so that it wouldn’t affect the taste of the brine or food.
Table salt is fine-grained and comes in two forms: iodized and non-iodized. The iodized type can lend a metallic flavor to brines or other foods. Fine-grained salt’s surface area is more exposed, causing it to dissolve faster in liquid or sprinkled on food. Anti-clumping agents are added to both types of table salt, which can also affect the taste of the food.
Canning salt, also called pickling salt, contains no anti-clumping agents or additives. The grains are finer than table salt, allowing them to dissolve easily in liquid. It is a good substitute for Kosher salt in brines when none are available.
Rock salt is unprocessed and may contain various impurities, which can cause an unpleasant taste in food.
Sea salt comes in many varieties, and some are said to be gourmet quality, making them expensive. A few examples are:
- Pink Flake salt.
- Himalayan sea salt.
- Hawaiian Red Salt.
- Fleur de Sel.
- Celtic salt.
- Black salt.
Curing salt comes in Pink salt, Prague Powder 1, and Prague Powder 2. These are highly concentrated and only suitable for this purpose.
Kosher Salt In Dry Brines
A dry brine does the same job as a wet brine but doesn’t use any liquid by definition. Rubbing the meat with salt and other herbs and spices means that you won’t dilute the meat’s natural flavors. In addition, it has the advantage that you don’t need to find a large enough container to hold the liquid brine.
Rub the Kosher salt into the meat, along with the sugar, herbs, and spices. Make sure that you cover the whole surface of the meat, but don’t overdo it. It mustn’t be caked onto the meat. Then allow it to rest in the refrigerator for the same amount of time as you would with a wet brine.
How Kosher Salt Got Its Name
Coarse salt has various names in different cultures. The salt is not produced under religious guidelines, but the term “Kosher salt” is derived from the Jewish religious practice of “kashering” or dry brining their meats.
A Fun Fact About Kosher Salt
Kosher salt makes it suitable for use as an abrasive cleaner with its large grain size. It works well on cast iron pots and pans.
You can also mix it with some oil to help it stay abrasive while you’re working, but once you’re done cleaning, it will still dissolve easily, unlike those cleaners made with calcium carbonate or pumice. These tend to leave a grainy residue if not rinsed out well enough.
According to most cooks and barbecue gurus, Kosher salt will always be the first choice when brining meat or poultry. Table salt can be used when you’re in a pinch and don’t have any Kosher salt at hand.
But there are more benefits to the Kosher variety than simply adding saltiness to the brine, so always make sure you have some in your kitchen pantry.
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