The Curious History of Kosher Salt

How a Jewish Product Cornered Culinary Niche

Aaron J louie

By Rachel Tepper

Published March 16, 2013, issue of March 22, 2013.
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Diamond advertised their kosher salt product repeatedly in the Yiddish Forverts in the 1920s, and Morton went so far as to produce boxes labeled in Yiddish to appeal to the Jewish market. These types of boxes were marked “kosher salt” rather than “koshering salt,” and the new term stuck.

Special Edition: Morton marketed their salt to the Jewish community in Yiddish
Courtesy Yiddish Book Center
Special Edition: Morton marketed their salt to the Jewish community in Yiddish

Still, it wasn’t until much later that kosher salt was marketed outside the Jewish community. That came in the late 1960s, according to Mort Satin, the vice president of science and research for the trade organization, The Salt Institute. (Satin goes by another name, as well: the “Salt Guru.”)

Beginning then, “the only superlative in salt talk was kosher salt,” he wrote in an email to the Forward. Chefs began to favor it because its large grains and slowness to dissolve lent a light crunch to dishes. Kosher salt also lacks the additives often found in table salt, like iodine, which many chefs say imparts an unpleasant flavor.

Satin is certain the word “kosher” also lent an air of exoticism to some ears, which furthered its popularity. But how did kosher salt transition from tucked-away restaurant kitchens to the spotlight? Food television, Satin posited.

“So much of TV cooking is visual,” Satin reasoned. “Shaking a little salt shaker could not compete with dipping into a bowl of kosher salt and casting the large, very visible salt crystals across the dish like Toscanini waving his baton across the orchestra. Flair, panache… magic.”

Rachel Tepper is an associate food editor at The Huffington Post, where she writes about food trends and restaurants.


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