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9/7/09

Herb Salt

Sometime ago I discovered the pleasure of cooking with herb salt. I used to buy an Italian blend of sea salt and fresh herbs that I love. I use it in roasted potatoes, grilled fish or chicken, soups, eggs; I add it to almost every thing! I have been using this salt for, I don't know, at least five years now. It never occurred to me that I could make my own.


For Mother's Day, it is a tradition in my family to give presents not only to our own mom but to all the women in the family that have the fortune of being mothers. Since there are gazillions of these women in my family, the presents are often simple and more of a token than an expense. I usually try to give something homemade. I will never forget the year I went down to the canyon and cut big bunches of wild daisies. Rich made flower bases out of tree branches and I filled them with fresh cut flowers from the canyon. My mom and sisters loved them.

Last May, while trying to think what to give to my mom and sisters for Mother's Day, I picked up the jar of my herb salt, as I often do, to inhale the great aroma of the herbs I love. I read the ingredients just to discover that I have almost all the herbs used in this mix growing in my back yard. What a nice surprise. My mind was immediately made up, I was going to make herb salt to give as a Mother's Day present!

I had no idea how to make this but I didn't think it would be difficult. After a little research I found out that some people dry the herbs in a 200° oven for 24 hours before mixing them with sea salt. The label on my Italian mix said that to preserve the bright color of the herbs longer, they mix the herbs with sea salt while still fresh . Since I like what I've been buying, I decided not to dry the herbs - I wanted to replicate the salt that I know and love so much.

Since this salt is about the herbs more than it is about the salt, I didn't need to get the most expensive sea salt. I just bought a big box of sea salt at a restaurant supply store and used the herbs from my back yard. I cut and cleaned several sprigs and leaves of rosemary, sage, parsley, thyme, garlic and onion chives, and a couple of big garlic cloves. I chopped everything very fine and placed it on my kitchen counter in between two layers of paper towels to aerate overnight. The next morning, I mixed everything together with sea salt and voilà! I had herb salt.


There are many mothers in my family, so I had to fill about two dozen small jars of salt and decorated them with a homemade label that listed the ingredients and suggestions on how to use it. Everyone loved it and has been using it in their cooking. Last week, several of my sisters returned the empty jars and asked me to fill them up again. I just made another batch of herb salt but this time I dried the herbs in the oven, but only for a couple of hours instead of overnight. There was nothing wrong with using fresh herbs but I wanted to try drying them to see the difference. I liked it both ways.




Prieta's Herb Salt
2 C of mix herbs; rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, garlic and onion chives (or anything you like.)
2 C sea salt
2 large peeled garlic cloves



Clean and pat dry the herbs or spin in a salad spinner. Place herbs on a baking sheet trying to keep on a single layer. Place in a 200° oven to dry for a couple of hours. When the herbs are dry they crumble easily. Grind them all together in a blender, food processor or in a molcajete. In a big bowl, mix sea salt and ground herbs to combine.


Finely chop the garlic and add to the mixture. I do not dry nor grind the garlic but I make sure it is chopped very, very fine. Store the herb salt in a glass container until ready to add to your favorite dishes.







I use this salt with everything but it is specially good with fish, chicken, and potatoes. Another version I make is sea salt with herbs de provence (savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender) that I buy at the Farmer's Market. This one is really good with meat and with vegetables.







2 comments:

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