Salt and pepper are two of the most essential ingredients in any kitchen. But have you ever wondered about the different types of salt and pepper available?
In this article, we’ll be focusing on kosher salt and pepper. Kosher salt is a popular seasoning agent among chefs and home cooks alike, known for its larger, coarser grains that gently salt food and enhance its flavor.
Meanwhile, pepper is a versatile spice that adds depth and complexity to dishes. Together, kosher salt and pepper can elevate any meal to the next level.
So let’s dive in and learn more about these two kitchen staples!
What Is Kosher Salt And Pepper?
Kosher salt is a type of sea salt that is cost-effective, widely available, and reliable. It has a larger flake than table salt, making it easy to manipulate with your fingers and control the amount of salt you add to your dishes. Kosher salt got its name because of its effectiveness in koshering meat, the Jewish process of preparing meat for consumption. The larger grains draw out moisture from meat faster, which is part of the koshering process.
Pepper, on the other hand, is a spice that comes from the berries of the Piper nigrum plant. It adds a pungent, spicy flavor to dishes and is available in several forms, including whole peppercorns, ground pepper, and even flavored varieties like lemon pepper.
Together, kosher salt and pepper can enhance the flavor of any dish. Kosher salt gently salts food without making it taste too salty, while pepper adds complexity and depth to the dish.
What Is Kosher Salt?
Kosher salt is a type of coarse salt that is commonly used in cooking. It has a larger grain size than table salt, which makes it easier to pick up and sprinkle over food. The name “kosher” comes from its use in the Jewish culinary tradition of koshering, where it is used to draw out moisture from meat rather than to season it. Kosher salt is made solely from sodium chloride and does not usually contain additives or iodine. Its large grain size makes it ideal for adhering to meat and drawing out liquids before being rinsed off without aggressively seasoning the meat. Professional chefs often reach for kosher salt for seasoning because it is easy to control due to its size and coarse texture. It has become the preferred everyday salt of chefs and home cooks alike. If you want to season like a chef, keep a salt cellar filled with kosher salt in your kitchen or part of a well-stocked pantry, then use the “raining” technique for seasoning: Sprinkle the salt from at least a foot above your food. You’ll get more even coverage.
How Is Kosher Salt Different From Regular Salt?
Kosher salt is less refined than regular table salt and has larger flakes that don’t compact together as neatly. This makes a pinch of kosher salt a little coarser and not as dense as a pinch of table salt. Kosher salt is also usually made solely from sodium chloride and doesn’t usually contain additives or iodine like some other types of salt. Additionally, kosher salt is a standardized product that’s the same everywhere in America by brand, making it a reliable choice for seasoning food. Its larger flake size also makes it suitable for the koshering process, which involves removing the blood from meat or poultry prior to preparation. In contrast, regular table salt consists of fine, evenly shaped crystals that are denser than other salts and may also contain anti-clumping agents, such as calcium silicate. Table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits and is good for salting pasta water or seasoning soups, but not as versatile as kosher salt for seasoning before, during, and after cooking. Sea salt, another popular type of salt, undergoes the least processing and may contain residual minerals that could alter the color of food. Its unevenly shaped flakes don’t stack up evenly and create a less dense pinch. Sea salt is typically more expensive and best for finishing dishes. While these three commonly used salts have the same chemical makeup, their texture and density differ, making it worth using the proper kind for the right occasion.
The Benefits Of Using Kosher Salt In Your Cooking
There are several benefits to using kosher salt in your cooking. Firstly, the wider, coarser grains of kosher salt salt food in a gentler way than table salt, which enhances the flavor of your dishes instead of making them taste too salty. Additionally, kosher salt has no iodine, which can lend a bitter taste to foods salted with table salt. If you eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, you likely consume enough natural iodine and don’t need the additional iodine in table salt.
Furthermore, kosher salt is a standardized product that’s the same everywhere in America by brand. So you can buy any brand of kosher salt, like Diamond Crystal or Morton kosher salt, and it’ll always be the same. It’s also easy to manipulate with your fingers and control the amount of salt you add to your dishes.
Finally, unlike some other types of salt, kosher salt usually doesn’t contain additives or iodine. It weighs less than table salt and therefore shouldn’t be substituted in a 1-to-1 ratio in recipes. Overall, using kosher salt in your cooking can enhance the flavor of your dishes and provide a more natural and standardized way of salting your food.
What Is Pepper?
Pepper is a spice that comes from the berries of the Piper nigrum plant. It is a fruit that grows in long, dangling clusters and needs hot, humid weather and lots of sun to thrive. Black, white, and green peppercorns are all the same fruit, but they are harvested and processed in different ways, which accounts for the color variation. Each kind of pepper has its own flavor profile and role to play in our cooking.
Black pepper has been used in Indian cooking since 2000 BC. The spice trade between India and the Roman Empire, where pepper was a luxury ingredient, became a lucrative business. The culinary and monetary allure of pepper was a huge reason European powers sought new trades routes, helping spawn the Age of Exploration. Today, black pepper still dominates the global spice market.
Peppercorns get their telltale bite from a chemical called Piperine that is found in the fruit and seed of the peppercorn. Piperine can actually break down when exposed to heat, air, and light, so peppercorns and ground pepper should be stored properly or used quickly. Black, white, and green peppercorns are all the same fruit but treated differently. Black peppercorns are dried, unripe fruits that have been cooked. Green peppercorns are dried, unripe fruits that have been preserved through flash-freezing, curing, or brining in order to preserve their color and flavor.
Not all spices called “peppercorns” are botanically related to pepper. For example, pink peppercorns come from a tree called the Peruvian pepper tree and are actually more closely related to cashews and other types of tree nuts as opposed to peppercorns. It’s important to note that those with nut allergies should avoid pink peppercorns.
Different Types Of Pepper And Their Flavor Profiles
Pepper comes in several types and colors, each with its own unique flavor profile. The most common types of pepper are black, green, and white. Black pepper is the most widely used and has a sharp, pungent flavor. Green pepper is harvested before it fully ripens, giving it a milder taste than black pepper. White pepper is made by removing the outer layer of the black peppercorn, resulting in a more subtle flavor.
In addition to these common types, there are also specialty peppers that offer unique flavor profiles. For example, Urfa pepper is a Turkish chili pepper that has a deep smoky taste and can be used while cooking or as a finisher. Aleppo pepper, commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, adds a mild heat and fruity flavor to dishes.
When using different types of pepper, it’s important to consider their heat level as well. The heat of peppers is measured on the Scoville scale, which ranges from mild to extremely hot. For example, jalapeño peppers have a range of 2,500-8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), while Scotch Bonnets, another popular pepper, score between 100,000-350,000 SHU.
How To Use Kosher Salt And Pepper Together In Your Cooking
When using kosher salt and pepper together in your cooking, it’s important to keep in mind the different roles they play in enhancing the flavor of your dish. Here are some tips to help you use them effectively:
1. Use kosher salt liberally: Because of its larger flake size, kosher salt is easier to control with your fingers and allows you to sprinkle it evenly over your food. When seasoning meat, be sure to coat both sides with kosher salt before cooking. When seasoning vegetables or other dishes, sprinkle a small amount evenly on top and taste as you go.
2. Grind your own pepper: Freshly ground pepper has a more pungent flavor than pre-ground pepper, so invest in a good quality pepper grinder or mortar and pestle. Black and white peppercorns can be ground together for a balanced flavor.
3. Use both during the cooking process: Add kosher salt while cooking to dissolve and evenly distribute it among the ingredients. Pepper can also be added during cooking, but be careful not to add too much as it can become overpowering.
4. Finish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt: Once your dish is cooked, finish it off with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt like Maldon or Jacobsen. This will add a crunchy texture and enhance the flavor of your dish.
By following these tips, you can effectively use kosher salt and pepper together in your cooking to create delicious and flavorful dishes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different ratios and combinations to find what works best for you!