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Two Questions: Salt and Legumes

I added the same amount of sea salt to pasta water as I usually do with Kosher salt. I had to throw out the pasta because it was too salty. Why is sea salt saltier than Kosher?

Also, found some chickpeas in back of cupboard, soaked and cooked but had to cook for two hours, and still they were crunchy. Is there a shelf life on dried legumes? I would think that since they're dried, they'd last forever as dried fruit.


  • Thanks for your questions. Salt can be tricky. Sea salt differs form Kosher salt in that it contains other minerals as well as salt. Salt from different "seas" can have different flavors that can also impact how we perceive the salt. But the main difference here is crystal size and shape. If you are measuring by volume, which is the way most salt is measured, a teaspoon of large crystal salt will weigh less than a smaller crystal salt. This means you are using less or more salt depending on the crystal shape. Different shapes can affect this as well. If you have a scale that weighs in grams, this could be a good way to make sure you really are adding the same amount of salt. If not, trial and error will sort it out in the end. With pasta water, add the salt then taste the water. Add more salt if it doesn't taste salty enough. If it is too salty, add more water and dilute the salt. Also, it is always a good idea to add the salt just before you add the pasta. If you add the salt at the beginning and like the saltiness but the water boils for awhile before you add the pasta, the salt gets concentrated and the water will be too salty.

    Yes, there is a shelf life for dried beans and legumes. Most people think because they are dried they will last forever but they don't. As beans/legumes age they lose their oils, resist water absorption and won't swell. Storing beans in nitrogen helps prolong the loss of these oils as does cool temperatures. You can also seal them in a food sealer if you have one. That will prolong their life as well. So when you buy them seal them in an air tight container as best you can and put a date on them. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell by looking at them if they are OK. You just have to cook them to find out. Assume properly sealed they will last about a year.

    Hope all of this has helped.

    Deb at Milk Street

  • Simple Italian rule of thumb: Pasta water should be "salty like the ocean". Taste and judge based on your own perception.

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