Salt is necessary for the fermentation of vegetables (lacto-fermentation). However, among all the salts available in grocery stores, some are not suitable for fermentation.
Here is a guide to help you choose the best ones!
For more information, see also Salt and Brine: Complete Guide on Salt in Lacto-Fermentation.
How to Choose the Type of Salt?
Ingredients Added to Salt
When choosing salt for fermenting vegetables, there are two very important things to avoid: anti-caking agents and added iodine.
The addition of iodine can inhibit beneficial bacteria and disrupt fermentation. We, therefore, advise against using iodized salt for vegetable fermentation. However, salts containing natural iodine are not a concern.
The presence of anti-caking agents, on the other hand, can give a bad taste to fermented vegetables.
How to choose the right salt? It’s easy, the only ingredient should be “salt”!
Size of the Salt Grains
Salt grains dissolve in a few minutes, regardless of their size. The size of the grains is therefore not so important for your vegetable fermentation recipes.
However, if you want to save time, you should know that fine salt will dissolve much faster than coarse salt.
What Are the Best Salts for Lacto-Fermentation?
Here are the different types of salt, and whether they are good for vegetable fermentation.
This is the salt that is commonly found in salt shakers in kitchens and restaurants. Most table salts contain additives such as anti-caking agents and added iodine.
Table salt is therefore not recommended for fermenting vegetables.
Pink Himalayan Salt
Rich in minerals, Himalayan salt is considered one of the purest salts. It comes in a variety of colours, from white to various shades of pink.
This salt is ideal for fermenting vegetables.
Kosher salt is available in most grocery stores. It gets its name from the fact that it is traditionally used in kosher butcher shops.
It has larger crystals than granular table salt and does not contain as many additives as table salt. However, it sometimes contains anti-caking agents.
So check the label before using kosher salt for fermenting vegetables.
Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel, and Grey Salt
Sea salt comes from the evaporation of seawater. It can be refined or unrefined but is generally of better quality than iodized salts.
Unrefined sea salt is rich in minerals. Look for coloured spots: grey, black, pink, or red. These colours indicate that the minerals have not been removed from the salt.
Some natural salts are wet because they have not been fully dried or refined after being extracted from seawater.
These salts are ideal for fermenting vegetables.
Salt used in cooking and all the salts mentioned in this article are, from a chemical point of view, sodium chloride (NaCl).
However, other types of salt are sometimes used in food, such as calcium chloride (CaCl2).
Calcium chloride can be used to keep vegetables crunchy, especially pickles. It does not replace salt but complements it.
Calcium chloride must be food-grade to be used and the instructions in the recipe must be followed.
In summary, on salt packaging, the only ingredient listed should be “salt”. The colour, origin, size, and quantity of minerals do not have a significant impact on the fermentation process, but they can affect the taste and nutritional content of the food.
Pink Himalayan salt, sea salt, fleur de sel, and grey salt are ideal for vegetable fermentation.
Kosher salt and calcium chloride may be appropriate in some cases.
Table salt is not recommended.