Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Easy Project: Flavored Salt

While it may sound redundant, you can add flavor to salt. My current favorites? Lemon with thyme, lime with tarragon, garlic and rosemary. You can find expensive "blends" everywhere from Penzey's to Oakleys, so I always feel an even bigger sense of accomplishment when I make them on my own. You can experiment with various salts, but I usually start with regular kosher salt, a fleur de sel (French sea salt), or even rock salt for a grinder depending on what I'm working with and when I'm using it. Here are some options:

These may not be the most formal rules, but they seem to be what I've discovered so far:

1) I like working with a little moisture. Fleur de sel is often moister than regular salt, but citrus zest and fresh herbs also add some moisture to your salt. You don't want it to clump, but it needs a bit of moisture to infuse the flavore.

2) Crushed or minced fresh herbs work. Small bits are fantastic for adding a bit of moisture to salt and letting the flavor infuse.

3) Citrus zest is perfect. Just the right amount of moisture, good color and a lot of flavor. It's also a great way to use leftover zest or fruit -- just use your microplane to add some to salt in a small dish.

How to make your own flavored salt? Put 1/4 cup of kosher salt or fleur de sel in a small dish. Add 1-2 tsp of fresh herb or citrus zest and mix. Put the flavored salt in a small jar or bottle and use as needed. If you're using a salt grinder, you can add dried herbs and zest (like dried orange peel) to your rock salt for a bit of added flavor. (I have one grinder with a dried lemon peel and thyme.)

As you see more gourmet salts (like pink and black) hitting the market, play around with them! Some will have smokier or more mineral flavors pairing better with herbs. You can also find the small spice jars at places like Cost Plus World Market which are great for storing salts for use.

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