This week we’ll share a series of articles inspired by our Fermentation 2.0 Workshop at the Cookbook Store last week. We started the evening by promising that we’d answer all the questions that we could but that we were likely to get stumped by some of the questions and would answer them on the blog in the coming days.
“What kind of salt do you use when fermenting food?”
This is a common question that I’m asked and one that I’m comfortable answering. I use coarse salt of many different types. If asked for more detail, I also point out that I avoid using iodized salt. I shared this advice last week and someone approached me at the end of the session to ask a simple question,
“Why do you use un-iodized salt?”
One of the pleasures of teaching classes like this is to share your own knowledge but also to point out holes in your own knowledge. And this was one of those opportunities. I answered as honestly as I could – that I don’t really know why and it’s something I do because I read it some time some where and ‘because.’ That’s a crappy answer so we also agreed I’d do some more research and look into it some more but these are moments that I love!
Iodized salt is typically highly-processed. High-temperatures or chemical treatments can strip natural minerals and iodine is added in addition to anti-caking agents.
Lesser-processed salt can contain some amounts of iodine though the amount tends to be less (and some argue ‘different’ though I can’t find an independent source to validate this claim).
There are two reasons to avoid processed salt with added iodine:
- Iodine contains antimicrobial properties. Increased levels of iodine can inhibit fermentation.
- Anti-caking agents can cause cloudiness in pickle/ fermenting brines.
Because of the amount of salt added to a ferment, it’s not likely that iodized salt would inhibit fermentation but it could hamper results (or prevent them depending on the quantity used).
Alternatives to iodized salt includes most sea salts, canning or kosher salt and I will continue to use those.