Salt is the key ingredient to a good ferment. New fermenters can get caught up in the different types, so we've made an overview of the most popular salts to help you choose which is right for you. You can use any iodine-free salt to ferment vegetables, so don't bother buying new salt just to follow a recipe.
Things to consider:
Today, kosher salt isn't even always kosher. It was originally named koshering salt because it was used to prepare kosher meat, but the name eventually simplified to "kosher salt." This coarse, naturally-occurring salt is now used in household kitchens for any cooking need. It's popular because it has a thick, flakey texture that's easy for pinching and dissolves quickly with water to make a brine. Its taste is comparable to table salt, so it's an easy go-to for beginner fermenters. We highly recommend using kosher salt in any ferment!
HIMALAYAN PINK SALT
Himalayan salt gets its subtle salmon hue from trace amounts of rust and is extracted from one mine in Pakistan. Many spiritual and health claims surround Himalayan salt, which is why it's hollowed out for lamps and used in bath salts. While the exact benefits of himalayan salt are still being researched, it does contain less sodium compared to others and has small amounts of calcium, potassium and magnesium. Himalayan salt is coarse with a sweeter and more subtle taste, which is why it's become extremely popular in home kitchens (plus it's pretty). We highly recommend fermenting with himalayan salt, especially if you're trying to reduce sodium.
Great, but not necessary!
Pickling salt is fine grained and the purest salt, made of 100% sodium chloride with no additives. It's very popular among fermenters, but if you don't have any you can use an alternative. Unless you're making a more advanced ferment for the first time, like pickles (they can be very finicky—so follow your recipe!), it should be easy to find an another salt to use in your pantry. If you decide to use pickling salt, keep in mind it's very strong so go light and taste along the way.
Great, but not for everyone!
Sea salt is traditionally used as a way to salt food after it's been cooked because of its powerful flavor. It's available in crystalline form, which has a more intense flavor compared to the flaked alternative form. Flaked sea salt dissolves easily, like kosher salt, so it's preferred for fermentation (but it really doesn't take much time to dissolve either way). Sea salt can contain a number of different minerals that can affect the taste: the darker the salt, the more minerals it contains. Some of these minerals can create a briny, bitter or sweet taste, but usually only foodies can tell the difference. Sea salt is great for fermenting, but beginners should take care in using crystalline sea salt because it's easy to add too much.
The only salt you shouldn't add to a ferment is table salt or refined salt; it contains iodine which may negatively affect your ferment. Outside of the fermentation world, consuming iodine is encouraged. Iodine is added to table salt to prevent iodine deficiencies, which can cause developmental disabilities. If you avoid table salt in all aspects of your cooking, you should try eating naturally iodine-rich foods, like seaweed, cranberries, yogurt, and strawberries.
Have them all? Organize your salts with Chalk Tops and Mason jars. Fill Mason jars with salt and label them with chalk or chalk markers. We recommend leaving them on the counter to display, plus it gives you easy access while cooking.
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