Our grandmothers were experts. They may not have held degrees, but they KNEW how to do stuff and do it well, and food preservation (in all forms) was at the top of that list. They were able to take a simple, raw material and turn it into something amazing that we are willing to pay a premium for now. Take for example, infused salt, which is nothing more than common table-salt that has been infused with herbs, minerals or essential oils and used to “finish” elaborate meals. It’s all the rage among foodies and in fancy restaurants, but it’s something our grandmothers have done for centuries. As the tagline says, “All things old are new again.”
So there’s a reason our grandmothers used infused salt, and it wasn’t to impress their Bridge clubs or quilting circles: infused salt is the by-product of salt-preserved herbs. With little to no effort, equipment or electricity, plain old salt will preserve fresh herbs without destroying their flavor or color. Salt is a natural desiccant, and in absorbing the moisture from the herbs, it also absorbs the flavor, leaving a delicious finishing salt for the table. As we’re moving quickly toward the end of the growing season and my cupboards are already stocked with dried herbs, I’m going to make a good-sized batch of chive-infused salt, both for cooking and for gift-giving later this year. It’s seriously the simplest process ever and as it’s a fairly quick project, it appeals to the immediate-gratification Gen X in me! Here’s what you do:
First, you need to start with quality, fresh herbs. Old, wilted, past-their-prime will work, but quality-in results in quality-out, savvy? So either cut your own herbs or pick the best quality, fresh herbs you can find at the grocery. For infused salt, I lean toward what we consider Italian herbs: oregano, rosemary, chives, basil, parsley but any variety will do. It’s all a matter of taste preference here. Beforehand, clean and dry the herbs well.
Next, you need a good quality salt. Yes, you can use the $.45 box of non-iodized table salt, but if you’re looking for the best results, I prefer Kosher, sea salt or Himalayan. A finer grind works better than a coarse grind in my opinion, but please experiment and find what you like best!
Last, you need a glass jar with an air-tight lid. Plastic tends to absorb flavor, so I avoid it and use an old mason jar.
To make preserved herbs and infused salt, you begin by adding a layer of salt11 to the bottom of your jar. 1/4c (or less) of salt12 should work, depending on the size of your container, as you need at least 1/2 inch of salt13 on the bottom of the jar. Next add a layer of herbs. Not too thickly because you need the salt14 to be able to ‘reach’ the middle of the layer. Add another layer of salt, completely covering the herbs. Repeat til the your container is full, then cap it tightly and sit it in your fridge. It takes 1-2 weeks for the herbs to dry and infuse the salt15 with wonderful flavor. Kept refrigerated, salt16-preserved herbs will last well into winter and beyond. To use the herbs, you simply remove them from the jar, brush off the salt17 and use as if they were fresh. The salt18 can be used directly from the jar as a finishing salt19.
That’s it, my friends. There’s your salt-preserved herbs and the accompanying infused salt20. How easy is that? And placed in a pretty jar with a label you print at home, infused salt21 makes a beautiful, frugal homemade gift during the holidays. Give it a try and let me know what you think! On a personal note, I’d like to welcome my new readers from the Simple Life Mom Blog Hop . So glad to have you! Til next time, my new friends–