Thursday, August 19, 2010

Using and Preserving Herbs: Herbal Salt

It’s far too simple, really – an herbal salt.
Some might say it almost doesn’t warrant a blog post.
And yet… for me, herbed salt was somewhat of a life-changing discovery.

A sprinkling of rosemary salt transformed a simple plate of grilled spring asparagus into something quite remarkable. It elevated a humble piece of white fish to an entirely new level. It made roasted breakfast potatoes into a treat. And it promoted a humble roasted green bean into something else entirely.

And rosemary salt was only the beginning. There was also the basil salt which brought new life to the last of the summer tomatoes, the mint salt that paired so swimmingly with slices of vodka-soaked watermelon. And the lavender and thyme salt that seasoned many a roasted chicken during the darkest months of winter.

The best part is how easy herbed salt is to make.
It takes virtually no preparation, aside from carefully washing and drying your herbs. And the only equipment you need is an ordinary coffee grinder... or a mortar and pestle, if you're willing to put a little bit of muscle into the process.

We like to use a coarse-grained sea salt -- which contains less sodium than refined table salt, as well as a plethora of trace minerals, including iron, sulfur, and magnesium.  Our favorite brand happens to be coarse-ground Real Salt -- which is made from mined rock salt, which means it hasn't been exposed to a kiln-drying process that robs salt of its beneficial properties.

We usually make our herbal salt as needed, but even the freshly ground salt keeps for a few days if stored in an airtight jar.  That said, you can also prepare herbal salt for extended storage by drying it in the oven (see instructions below).

If you're particularly inspired, we suggest making large batches of dried herbal salt, packaging them in attractive bottles (you can buy bottles here), tying them with a bit of ribbon, and giving them as gifts. Pair a few bottles of herbal salt with a jar of mixed peppercorns or a selection of recipes using herbal salts.

Herbal Salt
Crispy roasted green beans with rosemary salt 


Alright – your turn.
How will you use your next batch of herbed salt?

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16 comments:

  1. *raises hand" Totally inspired. This is the first I'm hearing about herbal salt. But it sort of reminds me of the herb butters I make...in concept, not in flavor. Love it.

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  2. I never, ever would have thought of this! So simple. I would use it on roasted veggies for sure. Especially sweet corn on the cob! Maybe with basil salt? Mmmm...

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  3. I have yet to make an herbed salt. However with all these herbs I am growing, it is an easy and great way to preserve!

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  4. I think herbal salt certainly warrants a post. I love it! Thanks so much for the inspiration!

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  5. You don't even have to dry the herbs first. The salt would do that for you! Great on steak, I'd hazard.

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  6. Heather - It's true that the salt would naturally dry the herbs -- though I've had trouble with my salts sticking together if I make a large quantity and don't dry them first.

    And you bet they're great on steak!

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  7. Totally going to try it... love preserving things! I meant to also tell you that I think I'm going to try and can up some of your herbal simple syrup suggestions. I wonder if I can settle on just making a couple? I have a couple of little blocks of the pink Himalayan salt, wonder if that would be good? Certainly will be pretty...

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  8. What a great idea, I really enjoy cooking with herbed and speciality salts. Thanks for showing me how to make my own.

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  9. An herb salt? wow that's great! ..please do make batches of dried herbal salt and prepare it with a cute packaging. I would love to make it as a give away and or show it to my friends. Thanks!

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  10. I'm sold, I have to try it. Rosemary salt with potatoes was my breaking point. I've also been meaning to grind some dried hibiscus with salt for fish. Can't wait to get salting creatively!

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  11. I love the mint salt on watermelon! What a fantastic idea. Maybe I'll have to try some tarragon salt on an egg salad sandwich, or a mixed Italian herb salt for some flatbread...thanks for the inspriation

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  12. Great post! Maybe simple, but sensational! What a great idea. I love all your suggested herbal salt - food pairings. We make popcorn almost daily in our house... now I'm wondering which herbal salt would be best for popcorn.

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  13. YUM... popcorn!
    I think a lot of different salts would be awesome on popcorn. But, oregano salt with parmesan cheese sounds pretty good to me!

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  14. My mom made lavender salt for me and I have been tempted to bathe with it. Chicken? It is beautiful and delicious smelling, but I just haven't found the right thing to eat it with. Any other ideas?

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  15. Lavender salt would be stelllar on chicken...also on roasted potatoes with a bit of garlic.

    Since lavender tends to have an affinity for both lemon and berries, I'm thinking it might be great for a savory fruit sauce with pork. Also would be great in biscuits!

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  16. It's a good alternative to try. You can have it for various dishes.

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