How to Make Homemade Herb Infused Cooking Salt Recipe (Featuring Basil)
When I loved in Southern Nevada, my tough Mediterranean spices like Rosemary, Oregano, and Cilantro grew like crazy. In fact, these are among my favorite herbs to grow in a medicinal and culinary herb garden.
Now that we are in Idaho, I have discovered that I can actually grow Basil! What a thrill! I've been harvesting it like crazy, making pesto, freezing it in olive oil for later use, and drying it.
But I still have more and more coming every day! I wanted a way to preserve it for longer and still retain the flavor of the herbs. The solution? Homemade cooking salt (sometimes known as finishing salt)!
Herbal cooking salt is a mineral rich salt that is infused with fresh herbs. You heard that right! The juices from the fresh herbs sink into the sea salt (or Himalayan or whichever natural salt you like best), creating a wonderful herb flavored cooking experience.
Infusing salt with herbs is not only a great culinary experience, but this salt is just gorgeous. And if you make it yourself, it's extra special. If you bottle it up in a pretty little jar, it makes a wonderful gift for the holidays or any time, too! :-)
Here is how I made this homemade herb infused salt. Plus, I'll share two variations (wet and dry), so you can do what works best for you!
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Recipe for Basil-Garlic Infused Salt (Herbal Salt)
If you have a lot of fresh, green herbs growing in your garden, you can make this herb salt with just about any herb you like. Try using thyme, oregano marjoram, rosemary, savory, sage, cilantro, chives, and even lavender (for Herbs de Provence). This method of creating an herbal salt will work with any lovely herb you have planted in your garden---even rose petals!
But. I had a TON of basil. So, I'm sharing this recipe for my basil herb salt. You can use these same directions for any kind of herb you like, though.
Ingredients for Basil Herb Salt:
About 3 cups of basil leaves, and soft stems ok. Be sure to get rid of woody stems, as they won't break down as well.
About 1 tbsp coursely ground black pepper or 1 1/2 tbsp peppercorns, whole
About 1 tbsp garlic powder or dried garlic chips
Directions for Making Your Herbal Salt:
Step 1) Go out and harvest your basil (in my case) or whichever herb(s) you want to infuse in your salt. Fill a good sized colander if you can. I have three cups if I compact the herbs.
Step 2) Rinse the herbs, and lay them out to dry for a bit, or gently dry them with a towel. You'll want most of the moisture off the leaves.
Step 3) Using a food processor or blender (I used my mini-Cuisinart hand blender with a bowl attachment), go ahead and blend your herbs into a course mash. Don't pulverize them! You want to keep the integrity of the pieces so the herb can be seen, but you need the bits small enough to release their moisture into the salt well.
Don't have a food processor? You could use a spice grinder, or barring that, a mortar and pestle. And if you don't have those items handy, you could just use a sharp knife and chop those herbs up really well!
NOTE: If you are using whole peppercorns or a very course grind salt, go ahead and add these bit by bit with the basil in your food processor. You'll want a finer ground salt in the end. I didn't have course salt on hand, so I just used fine sea salt. Since it was already how I wanted it, I did not blend it with the herbs.
Step 4) In a bowl, combine all the ingredients well.
Now, here is where the variations come in:
Variation 1) The "Wet" Herb Salt Method
Take your herb-moistened salt and place it into an airtight jar. Keep it in the refrigerator. It should last for about six months or perhaps even longer. I don't think you'll keep it that long though!
The benefits of keeping your herbed salt moist and in the refrigerator is that the full flavor of the herbs will remain in the salt for the entire time it's good. The downside of this method is that it won't last forever. Eventually, even with the preservative powers of the salt, your herbed salt will go bad.
Variation 2) The "Dry" Herb Salt Method
Get some parchment paper and place it on a cookie sheet or on a dehydrator tray. Now spread your moist herb-salt in a thinnish layer. You can leave it out to air dry for a few days, if you like. Or, you can use your dehydrator on the herb setting (about 105 degrees) for a few hours, until the herbs are completely dry.
I would not use an oven on the lowest setting for this method, as that will most likely still be too hot. You don't want crispy herbs, right?
The benefits of making your herbed salt this way are that you can keep it in your cupboard or on the counter top indefinitely. These make great gifts, too! What a wonderful way to preserve your herbal harvest into the Winter and Early Spring!
The downside of using the "dry" method is that some herbs lose their flavor when they are dried. Some do not, though. You just have to know your herbs. Basil is actually one of the herbs that loses flavor in its dried form, but I don't mind, because basil has such a strong taste anyway. I find it is still wonderful dried.
The dry method is how I like to make my herbed salt. I plan to share my herbs with family and friends at Christmas! :-)
How to Use Your Herbed Salt & Final Thoughts
There are probably about a million ways to use herbed salt! Obviously, you can use it just as you would regular salt in your cooking, except your herbed salt will be MUCH more delicious!
As a popcorn topping
As a rub for meat
Cooking a roast
Sprinkle it on your pasta
As a sprinkle on your corn on the cob
How about in your homemade bread?
In a delicious salad dressing
The choices are endless! :-) And did I mention these herbal infused salts make wonderful gifts for family and friends? Just find small pretty airtight jar, and there you go! Just make sure if you make the "wet" salt, that you make sure your people know it needs to stay in the fridge.
Have you ever made an herbal salt? Share your experiments in the comments! Questions welcome too.
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Hugs, Health, and Self-Reliance,
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