What Is Pickling Salt?
Do you really need to buy it to make pickles?
By Fraya Berg for Food Network Kitchen
Fraya is a chef and a contributing writer at Food Network.
Pickling salt is just plain salt: pure Sodium Chloride. Its purity and very fine crystal structure allows it to dissolve quickly and easily, making for beautifully clear pickling brine. By comparison, table salt doesn’t dissolve as easily and has additives including anti-caking agents that keep it from clumping in your saltshaker, iodine and sometimes even a bit of sugar.
What Is Pickling Salt Used For?
As its name implies, pickling salt is used for pickling and canning. Salt is essential for pickling when you will be storing your pickles at room temperature for an extended period. The salt brings flavor but more importantly it prevents bacteria from growing in the brine. Its job is crucial.
What Can I Use as a Substitute for Pickling Salt?
Because pickling salt is pure salt, the best substitute is another mostly additive-free salt: kosher salt. While kosher salt doesn’t have the iodine that table salt has, it may have the anti-caking agents that can cause a cloudy brine. The ingredients are listed on the container, be sure it just lists salt. Most chefs use Diamond Crystal Kosher salt because it has nothing added. You do need to be careful about the amount of salt you use when you use kosher salt in place of pickling salt; weighing it is your best option. A cup of pickling salt weighs 7 3/4 ounces (220 grams). You need 1 1/2 cups of Diamond Crystal Kosher salt to get to the 7 3/4 ounces (220 grams).
Other Uses for Pickling Salt
Pickling salt can be used wherever salt is called for. But again, instead of measuring by volume, you’ll want to replace the other salt by weight. If you don’t have a scale, err on the side of using less salt than the recipe calls for – you can always add more to taste as you’re cooking.
The grains of pickling salt are so small they make a great salt for popcorn and homemade tortilla chips. Keep it in a shaker with a few grains of rice to keep it from clumping.
Where to Buy Pickling Salt
As with most things, pickling salt is available on dozens of ecommerce sites. Additionally, in mid- to late-summer, hardware stores everywhere have displays of jars and lids and pickling salt ready for summer produce. Immersing yourself in the physical tools you need can be fun and inspiring. Once you make the decision to pickle cucumbers or okra or leftover broccoli stems, check out our articles A Beginner's Guide to Canning and Pickling and How to Make Pickles, Step-by-Step for illustrated step-by-step directions.
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