It's the pick for homemade pickles.
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Salt is an essential part of food preparation. If your recipe calls for "canning salt," sometimes named pickling or preserving salt, is it really worth seeking out? And are there substitutes you can swap in? Find out what you need to know:

What Makes Canning Salt Different?

Canning salt is made from pure granulated salt. What sets it apart from other salts is that it doesn't contain anti-caking ingredients or additives like iodine. Those extra ingredients found in regular table salt can make pickle brine cloudy or darken the color of pickled vegetables. The other stand-out feature of canning salt is its texture. The salt is has extra fine granules, meaning it will easily dissolve into brines.

Is Canning Salt Necessary for Preserving?

Canning salt is preferred for making homemade pickles or fermentation projects, but it's not totally necessary if you're in a bind. The main focus is to seek out alternatives that have the most fine texture possible and are free of additives. See our section below for substitute suggestions.

Crystals of shallow salt in a wooden bowl on a dark gray table.
Credit: Detry26 / Getty Images

Substitues for Canning Salt

Kosher salt, as long as it doesn't contain additives, can be a good stand-in for canning salt. Or pure sea salt, but try to find the smallest granule size possible for easier dissolving. Regular table salt should be avoided, as it can lessen the quality of your pickles, but it's safe to use if you're willing to gamble with how your veggies will turn out.

If you make any of the above suggested substitutions for canning salt, there are a few changes you need to take into account. Since the volume varies between salts of different fineness, the safest bet is to measure everything by weight instead of measuring cups and spoons. Keep in mind that more coarse varieties of salt will take longer to dissolve, so anticipate a longer time stirring your brine, or try and give it a quick whirl in your food processor before pickling to speed things up.

Buying and Storing Canning Salt

Canning salt can be found at practically any grocery store in the seasoning section, or next to the canning jars in some well-stocked hardware stores. Ball and Morton are the two most common brands you'll find, and they're also available for purchase online:

  • Buy it: Morton Canning and Pickling Salt Two-Pack, $15;
  • Buy it: Ball Canning and Pickling Salt Two Pounds, $17;

Since canning salt doesn't contain anti-caking additives, it's more prone to clumping. Be sure to seal it in an airtight container and keep it away from moisture.

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