I was discussing sauerkraut recipes with someone on IRC a minute ago, and they warned me not to use iodised salt in the process. My first (and so far, the only successful) batch is one I made with iodised salt - I think it's pretty much the default here. Searching the Internet shows roughly equal numbers of answers going either way, from "it doesn't matter" to "it discolours the vegetables" to "it kills the bacteria you want".

Clearly elemental iodine is nasty, as are any of the halogens. But is the iodide ion similarly harmful to the bacteria (and yeasts?) involved in lactofermentation, in the low quantities in which it's present in supermarket salt?

  • $\begingroup$ I think it may make a difference depending on which vegetable you're pickling... $\endgroup$ – MattDMo Jul 19 '13 at 17:27

This study found no difference in the outcome of sauerkraut fermentation with or without iodized salt:

  • There was no clear influence of iodized salt on microbial populations.
  • Stable fermentations were achieved using iodized as well as non-iodized salt.
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Bio.SE! This is a great contribution. Clear, concise, referenced. Thanks for contributing :) $\endgroup$ – James Oct 28 '19 at 10:45

from wikipedia:

No-additive salts for canning and pickling

In contrast to table salt, which often has iodide as well as anticaking ingredients, special canning and pickling salt is made for producing the brine to be used in pickling vegetables and other food-stuffs. This salt has no iodine added because the iodide can be oxidised by the foods and darken them—a harmless but aesthetically undesirable effect.

I have been looking for a concentration, but I suspect it is below the threshold that would harm microflora, as it typically has to be visibly yellow (~6ppm if i remember correctly) to be effective as a contact antimicrobial agent...

  • $\begingroup$ The FDA states that for chemical sanitization, "An iodine solution shall have a … [c]oncentration between 12.5 mg/L and 25 mg/L" Food Code 2009 4-501.114(B)(3) The main concern in pickling seems to be the aesthetic. "Fermented and non-fermented pickles may be safely made using either iodized or non-iodized table salt. However, non-caking materials added to table salts may make the brine cloudy." National Center for Home Food Preservation $\endgroup$ – Gossar Aug 19 '13 at 6:23

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