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Over on Seasoned Advice, there have been a number of questions related to the nature of kosher meat and the amount of salt absorbed by the meat. Most recently, In what way is kosher chicken different from brined chicken in terms of salt absorption?

In order to fully explore the question, I figured I'd come over here to Jewish Life & Learning. For those not familiar with brining, non-kosher meat is often soaked for some period of time in water with a fair amount of salt (and sometimes sugar and other seasonings) to help with flavor of the meat.

Most cooking resources do not suggest brining kosher meat, since the salting process means that the meat is already saltier than non-kosher meat. Soaking kosher meat in a brine would result in meat that is too salty to eat.

However, the exact process of kashering meat is unclear, particularly to non-Jewish cooks who might simply be looking to determine salt levels in the meat. What are the halachic rules for how kosher meat (particularly chicken, since that's the question at hand) must be treated with salt to draw out the blood? How does the rinsing process affect the moisture level of the meat? And is there any standard analysis of how much sodium tends to be absorbed during the kashering process?

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Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/12147 –  msh210 Dec 11 '11 at 19:44
    
I'm not sure whether this should be split into two questions: 1, "What are the halachic rules...", and, 2, both "How does the rinsing..." and "is there any standard analysis...". 1 is an halachic question; 2 is a cooking question. 2 is certainly on-topic on this site; also, someone seeking to answer 2 may well need to first know the answer to 1. Nonetheless, they seem like two separate questions. (Both are good, though. +1.) Perhaps split them accordingly? –  msh210 Dec 11 '11 at 20:28
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Thank you for bringing your interesting question to Jewish Life & Learning. For what one piece of anecdotal evidence is worth: I did not always keep kosher and when that changed I did not notice a difference in my perception of salt levels in my meat. I've never brined meat so I can't speak to that. –  Monica Cellio Dec 11 '11 at 21:23
    
Also see cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/12613/… –  Martha F. Dec 13 '11 at 12:08
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2 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The koshering process as done today is fairly straightforward:

  • Half-hour soak in water, then rinse.
  • Apply "kosher" salt all over (internal cavities too), then leave it there for an hour.
  • Triple rinse.

So yes, it is likely the finished product will be saltier than meat that was never treated with salt. (As I heard it, there was a sad case recently of non-kosher chickens being sold as kosher; when laboratory tests found near-zero salt levels in those birds, everyone knew something was wrong.) I can't tell you exactly how it compares to whatever brining process.

I did hear the question raised with regards to those on a low-sodium diet. Rabbis have allowed potassium chloride to be used instead of sodium chloride (while not quite as effective, it's close enough and employs the same mechanism); though practically today I'm told that if you take a piece of pre-salted-soaked kosher meat and leave it in a large bowl of water in the refrigerator overnight, then rinse it off, there will be very little salt remaining in the meat.

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Kosher meat must be salted to draw out the blood. I have recently been studying these laws, but I'm not experienced in the practice of it, so I cannot say for certain, but I do not believe, despite what you or others have heard, that Kosher meat should be (significantly) saltier than non-Kosher meat, simply because letting the meat sit in salt and then cooking it is not what happens. After a period of salting, the meat must be thoroughly washed (Yoreh De'ah 69-77 discusses the entire process). This is to ensure no blood, or bloody salt, remains.

I suppose it's possible that some salt remains embedded in the meat, and because I haven't done it in practice I cannot really comment on that. But I don't think it's likely that any remaining salt impacts the taste in a noticeable way.

Also, having eaten a fair share of Kosher meat in my life, I've never felt the meat was salty or that it had a ready-to-eat taste if it was cooked without any seasoning.

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Kosher -meat- (beef, lamb etc) is saltier than the non-kosher variety. Kosher poultry though, tends not to be noticeably saltier, because chicken skin is left on. (I think that is the reason) –  avi Dec 12 '11 at 20:17
    
@avi, says you. I contend that should not be (noticeably) saltier. –  Seth J Feb 19 '13 at 19:20
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