What Is Pickling Salt?
Pickling salt, also called canning salt or preserving salt, is a fine-grain salt with no additives. Made of pure sodium chloride, pickling salt doesn’t contain the iodine and anticaking agents that are traditionally added to table salt. Because of its purity and its ability to dissolve easily, canning salt is ideal for pickling vegetables and canning and preserving other foods.
Canning Salt vs Table Salt
Unlike pure canning and pickling salt, table salt contains anticaking agents that keep the salt grains from clumping together. This makes table salt easy to pour and prevents the holes in a salt shaker from becoming clogged. However, because the anticaking additives aren’t water soluble, they will not dissolve in pickle brine and will cause the liquid to be cloudy.
Do You Need Pickling Salt?
Pickling salt is the best salt to use in canning brine because the fine grains dissolve easily and result in a clear liquid that highlights the bright, green pickles inside the jar. Using table salt in your pickle brine will result in cloudy, murky liquid because the anticaking additives are not water soluble.
Table salt won't affect the taste of the pickles, but the opaque liquid it produces isn’t visually appealing. It’s unlikely that someone will purchase your pickles if they can’t see what’s inside the jar. Pickling salt produces crystal clear brine that’s optimal for showing off your pickled cucumbers, dilly beans, and sauerkraut.
Pickling Salt Substitution
It’s not recommended to substitute other types of salts for pickling salt, but it can be done in a pinch. In addition to containing additives, other salts have different grain sizes that make accurate measuring a challenge. One cup of fine-grain pickling salt will contain more salt by volume than one cup of a coarse-grain salt.
For the best canning salt substitute, choose kosher salt or sea salt. These salts are more likely to be additive-free and can be used with a measurement conversion to make sure the correct amount of salt is added to the pickle brine.
Is Kosher Salt the Same as Pickling Salt?
Kosher salt isn't the same as pickling salt, but it can be used as a substitute as long as it contains no anticaking agents. This will vary by brand so it’s important to check the ingredients list on the package. The size of the grains will also vary by brand, with some brands having larger crystals. Generally, you can use the following pickling salt vs kosher salt conversion:
- 1 tsp of pickling salt = 1 1/4 tsp of kosher salt
- 1/2 cups of pickling salt = 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of kosher salt
- 1 cup of pickling salt = 1 1/4 cup of kosher salt
Pickling Salt vs Sea Salt
Sea salt can be used as a canning salt substitute because it contains no additives. There are fine sea salts and coarse sea salts on the market, so use this common conversion for accuracy:
- 1 tsp of pickling salt = 1 tsp of fine sea salt
- 1/2 cups of pickling salt = 1/2 cup + 2 teaspoons of fine sea salt
- 1 cup of pickling salt = 1 cup + 4 teaspoons of fine sea salt
How To Make Pickling Salt
Coarse salts like kosher salt and sea salt won’t dissolve in liquids as easily as pickling salt, which has very fine grains. To make your own additive-free pickling salt from kosher or sea salt, place 1 cup of the coarse salt in a spice grinder and process the salt until it is very fine. Make sure the salt you use contains no additives or anticaking agents.
Other Uses For Pickling Salt
The fine texture of pickling salt allows it to stick to foods easily, but the lack of anticaking agents makes it a poor choice to use inside a salt shaker. Instead, it can be sprinkled over snacks and appetizers before they leave the kitchen. For the best-tasting french fries, try tossing them with pickling salt while they're hot. Roll freshly washed potatoes in pickling salt before placing them in the oven to bake. Sprinkle fresh, hot cobs of corn with pickling salt before serving.
Because it dissolves quickly, pickling salt can also be used in soups and marinades. Just be mindful that fine salts add saltier flavor to your dishes than course salts. Always start with a small amount of salt and taste your recipes to make sure you haven’t oversalted the dish.
Pickling Salt vs Pickling Lime
Not to be confused with pickle salt, pickling lime is a completely different chemical compound made of calcium hydroxide. A common use of food grade pickling lime is to treat corn kernels so they can be ground into masa harina flour for corn tortillas.
In canning, vegetables can be soaked in pickling lime to give them an extra crunchy texture. However, any foods soaked in pickling lime must be thoroughly rinsed before canning. Pickling lime is highly alkaline and could change the pH level in the pickle brine and reduce the acidity level. Without the proper acidity, bacteria can begin to grow. Because of the soaking time and repeated rinsing that's required when using pickling lime, many canners choose to avoid using it.
What Is Pickling Crisp?
Pickle Crisp is the brand name of an additive used in canning that helps to preserve the firmness of the fruits or vegetables. Made of calcium chloride, this crisping agent is neutral and won't affect the pH levels of the canning liquid. It's a suitable alternative to pickling lime but will only preserve the firmness of the canned foods, not add additional crunchiness like pickling lime.
If you're serious about making perfect pickles, consider stocking up on pickling salt because it produces the clearest, most visually appealing pickle brine. The use of other salts could produce a cloudy brine that looks unappetizing and may lead customers to think the pickles are unsafe to eat.
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