More and more recipes are calling for kosher salt, and the natural question is, "Why should I use it instead of table salt? Does it really make any difference?"

To some people this salt has definite advantages. These include:

• Both salts are basically the same, made from sodium chloride. For that reason any salt has the same nutritional value. But table salt includes anticaking agents so it won't stick together, and sodium iodine for health reasons. So some people prefer kosher salt because it doesn't have any additives.

• But the buzz about this salt is its texture. Table salt is very fine and its teeny cubes pack together. Kosher salt is flaky and more airy. So most chefs feel it is easier to control the amount of salt when picking it up in their fingers to season foods. It also sticks to meat and some other foods better than table salt because of its large flat flakes.

• Some people claim that it has a better taste, and because it's flaky it has more of a crunch and bits of salty flavor. They feel that table salt has a somewhat metallic taste and adversely affects the flavor of the food.

For these reasons many chefs and gourmet cooks use only kosher salt, even on the table. It has special uses, like salting the rim of margarita glasses, and sprinkling on foods that you want to have a distinctly salty taste, such as homemade pretzels and some breads.

But there are reasons why some cooks don't want to use it.

• It doesn't dissolve as quickly as table salt, so it is not recommended for baking. 
• It costs more than table salt. 
• It's a bother to keep both kinds on hand. 
• There's not enough difference in the taste to make it worthwhile. 
• According to studies, there isn't enough iodine in table salt for it to be a health hazard for those who are sensitive to iodine.

If you are using a recipe that calls for kosher salt and you don't want to use it, just use half as much table salt. Because it is fine-grained, more fits into a measuring spoon, and it would make the food much too salty if substituted in equal amounts.

There are many diehard fans on both sides of the fence. So the answer to the question, "Why use kosher salt?" is that it's purely a matter of choice.

All during the month of January we'll be sharing ideas for ways to show the love on Valentine's Day, including homemade candies, cookies, decorating foods, and more. These are great for sweethearts, parents, children, all sorts of relatives, friends and even the family dog!

We're always looking for more ways to give you new food ideas. Come join the fun!

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