Can I Use Sea Salt for Pickling?

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Although regular salt is not essential for canning all foods, it is necessary for fermented foods like pickles and sauerkraut. According to food experts, “When salt is used for pickles and sauerkraut, it not only provides it with a characteristic flavor, but salt also helps to deter certain bacteria.

When you come across a recipe that requires canning or pickling salt, and there’s none available, can you use any other salt as a substitute?

Can I use sea salt instead of pickling salt for pickling? In some cases, yes, and in others, no. In cases where you can substitute pickling salt, you have to replace the salt in the right proportion; otherwise, you may develop the risk of harmful bacteria.

Yes, you can use sea salt as an alternative for pickling salt if pickling salt is not available. But when using sea salt for pickled foods, ensure you do it in the right proportion, so your pickles won’t develop a funny taste or start to brine.

What Is Pickling Salt?

Pickling salt (canning or preserving salt) is simple, pure granulated salt (sodium chloride) that does not contain anti-caking agents or additives traditionally added to table salt.

When you add these additives, they can give the container a dirty or darkened look which will affect the outlook of the brine. We wouldn’t want our pickling liquid to look all clouded up, so it’s left out of pickling salt.

Regarding pickled foods, you’ll need a few other critical ingredients besides pickling salt. Vinegar is crucial to creating that tangy, lip-smacking flavor you crave in your pickled foods.

Remember sugar! It’s the perfect sweet counterpart to balance out the sourness of the vinegar. Beyond that, you can get creative with your taste combos. 

These traditional fermented foods rely on regular acceptable grain salt to create the perfect environment for beneficial bacteria to flourish and make a yummy and healthy end product.

Benefits Of Using Pickling Salt 

Pickling salt is a true rockstar for all the pickling enthusiasts out there. This pure granulated salt  has several benefits that make it a pickler favorite:

Purity

Pickling salt is as pure as it gets. Pickling salt has no extra ingredients like iodine or anti-caking agents that can interfere with the pickling process. 

That means your pickled foods will be as tasty and colorful as you imagined.

Fine and Dandy

Pickling salt dissolves like a dream in water because it has refined grains. These refined grains will give your brine a consistent savor consistency because they will help you evenly distribute the salt.

Dissolves Effortlessly

The grains of pickling salt dissolve entirely in water and leave no sediment behind. No residue is crucial in preventing any cloudy business in your pickling liquid.

Consistency Is Key

Because pickling salt is specially made for pickling, it ensures that the salt content is consistent throughout the brine. Using pickling salt means your pickles will have the perfect saltiness every time.

Affordable

Despite being a star, pickling salt is affordable and available at most grocery stores. Everyone can get in on the pickling action without breaking their wallets.

Clear Brine

A visually appealing brine is just as important as flavor, and pickling salt helps achieve that. Your pickles will look as good as they taste!

Tasty

Pickling salt has a pure form and consistent grain size to help ensure that your pickles have a balanced and consistent flavor. 

And, because it won’t add any unwanted flavors or colors compared to flavored salts, the natural taste of your fruits and veggies will shine through. 

What Is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is the byproduct of evaporating seawater. People have used it since prehistoric times, and you can find it in many kitchens today. Aside from its culinary uses, people often add sea salt to body scrubs, baths, and beverages.

White rock salt spread out on a blue table

Some believe it is much healthier than pickling salt, but little research supports these claims. As I stated earlier, you can use sea salt for pickling, but there are some rules you must adhere to if you want it done well.

You will mess up your pickled foods if you don’t use the right proportion of sea salt for the pickle. Therefore, you must always keep that in mind whenever you decide to use sea salt for pickling.

However, it’s always better to use pickling salt for this case; sea salt can also do the job if you don’t have pickling salt.

When to Use Pickling Salt and When to Use Sea Salt

The best application for pickling salt is in making pickles. Pickling salt can also be helpful when you need a quick-dissolving salt in a water-based liquid, like when making a last-minute salad dressing.

On the other hand, sea salt is like the treasure of the sea! It’s perfect for use as a finishing salt. You sprinkle it on dishes right before serving to add flavor and texture.

The salt is also great for dishes where you want to enhance the ingredients’ natural flavors with a touch of mineral goodness. And let’s remember the visual appeal! The giant sea salt crystals can make your pickled food look like art.

What Other Salts Can You Use for Pickling?

Although pickling salt is the best salt to use for your pickles brine compared to others out there, other substitutes can comfortably replace pickling salt in your pickle jar or your cooking. Different types of salts you can use include:

1. Kosher Salt

Kosher salt is the best substitute for pickling salt as there are no additives, iodine, or anti-caking agents. It has a bright and mild taste, and because kosher salt is also a very pure salt, it does not discolor your pickled food or give them an undesirable flavor.

The significant difference between pickling salt and kosher salt is the grain size. Kosher salt has a larger grain size compared to pickling salt. So, when substituting kosher salt for pickling salt, you should know that the weight per volume differs, so when you’re measuring, it should be 1 ½ cups of kosher salt should be equated to 1 cup of pickling salt.

So, when using kosher salt instead of pickling salt, you should grind it to a smaller size to obtain better results.

2. Non-Iodized Table Salt

Table salts that do not contain iodine are a suitable option for pickling salt substitutes because iodine affects the flavor and color of pickles. Non-iodized table salt has anti-caking agents and is most likely to make your brine cloudy, so add just a little or a pinch.

Salt spilled from a rock shaker bottle

Table salt also needs to be further processed and broken down, similar to the grain size of pickling salt. This process makes table salt easier to dissolve into the brine, and due to this finer texture, table salt does not threaten the measurement’s accuracy.

When adding salt to your pickle jar, use less salt, as it usually has a more robust salty flavor than pickling salts.

3. Flake Rock Salt

Flake rock salt is another type of salt used for pickled foods. It’s a coarse, irregularly shaped salt made from evaporating seawater or saltwater from underground deposits. 

Flake rock salt has a different texture than non-iodized table salt, giving the rock salt a unique advantage in pickling. 

Its large flakes dissolve more slowly in water, allowing a slower release of flaked salt into the brine. This process can result in a more even and controlled pickling, benefiting certain types of pickled foods.

Pickling Salt vs. Other Salts 

In pickling, the salt you use can make a big difference in the final product. While pickling salt is the go-to choice, other options exist, such as Himalayan Salt. Let’s explore the different types of salt and how they compare to pickling salt.

Pickling Salt vs. Pickling Spice

Pickling spice is a blend of spices used in pickling to add taste. While pickling spice can contain salt, it is not a substitute for pickling salt, as it does not have the same properties required for preserving the texture and color of pickled foods such as vegetables or fruits.

Pickling Salt vs. Regular Iodized Table Salt

Regular table salt or iodized salt contains additives like iodine and anti-caking agents. These additives can throw off the taste and color of your final pickled masterpiece. 

And to top it off, their super-fine grains may force you to use more table salt than you need to get that perfect salty taste. 

Pickling Salt vs. Himalayan Salt

Himalayan salt is a rock salt often marketed for its health benefits and unique pink color. 

While you can use Himalayan salt for pickling, its coarser texture may dissolve slowly and uniformly than pickling salt. This salt can affect the consistency of your pickling brine.

Pickling Salt vs. Rock Salt

Rock salt is a tough cookie for making brines and curing meats. You can use rock salt for pickling, but beware: its large salt crystals take a long to dissolve and can leave behind sediment and cloud up your brine.

Pink Himalayan rock salt on a wooden spoon

Pickling Salt vs. Pickling Lime

Pickling lime is a chemical compound composed of calcium hydroxide. It adds crispness to pickled vegetables. In modern times, salt has lost popularity due to the risk of causing illness.

The problem is that pickling lime has a higher pH than other salts in this list. This level means it’s an alkaline salt. In pickling, this is counterintuitive since you need a bit of acid to keep those nasty bacteria at bay. 

If you go overboard with the pickling lime, you’ll neutralize the acid in your pickling mix. The result can lead to some not-so-fun consequences like getting sick. 

Related Questions

Can I Use Sea Salt Instead of Kosher Salt?

You can use sea salt instead of kosher salt. Although many people prefer kosher salt for its consistency, you can also use sea salt as a substitute in recipes that call for kosher salt. Just keep in mind that the texture and taste of the pickled food may be slightly different depending on the type of salt used.

Can I Use Flavored Sea Salt for Pickling?

I don’t recommend you use flavored sea salt for pickling. The added herbs, spices, or natural savors can mess with the taste and quality of your pickles! Plus, some of those fancy sea salts have a coarse texture that won’t dissolve easily in your brine. 

How Does Sea Salt Affect the Taste of Pickles?

Sea salt can affect the taste of pickles because it is not as pure and contains trace minerals that can alter their taste. The minerals in sea salt can contribute to a more complex and nuanced flavor in the pickles. 

Conclusion

Many people regard pickling salt as the choice salt for pickled food. Sea salt is often used as a substitute if pickling salt is unavailable. However, using the correct proportion of sea salt is essential to avoid developing a weird taste.