Looking for a perfect garden gift? These homemade infused spices are perfect for gardeners and foodies. Use your favorite herbs, fresh from the garden, to get gourmet taste without the gourmet cost with these easy to make salts.
To make your infused salt you will need salt, flavoring, a food processor, an oven, and a container to hold your salt after it's been infused. We used coarse sea salt for ours, but any salt will work. You can even try pink or black salts for an interesting twist. You can use any herb or combination of herbs you like to infuse your salts, and lemons and limes work great as well. Fresh herbs will impart the most flavor to your salt, but you can also use dried herbs.
Any herb, or combination of herbs, can be used to add flavoring to your salt. Parsley works well with almost any food, but it's especially good with fish and chicken, as well as vegetables. It can withstand higher temperatures better than most tender herbs, so it's a great one to use for infusing. When measuring out your fresh herbs, start with a 1:2 ratio of herb to salt. This means if you use a cup of salt, use half a cup of fresh herbs. Add more to taste for a stronger infusion of flavor.
Infused salts is also a great way to experiment with some more unusual flavors. Fennel is a great flavoring for all kinds of meats, and is a little unexpected. Or try using dill with fish, especially salmon, for a unique taste.
You don't have to use your infused salts for grilling, they're great for all kinds of every day uses. Tender herbs, like chervil, don't hold up as well under heat but work great as a finishing seasoning for a stir fry or sprinkled over a fresh salad.
Thyme is the perfect herb for fish or pork dishes, as well as a variety of vegetables. Because the stems are woody, you'll need to remove the leaves before using thyme to infuse your salt. Run a sharp knife down the stem in the opposite direction of their growth for easy removal.
Lemon or lime infused salt is a wonderful way to add a burst of citrus flavor to favorite dishes. Lemon works especially well with fish, and lime is perfect for Southwestern inspired dishes. Zest two lemons or two limes per half cup of salt, and add more to taste. You can mix both lemon and lime with the herbs of your choice, they work wonderfully with almost everything.
If you're in a hurry or just don't have fresh herbs available, you can use dried herbs to infuse your salts. Simply mix the herbs and salt together in a food processor or by hand. You can skip the roasting step required when using fresh herbs. A good rule of thumb to start is two tablespoons of dried herb per half cup of salt, but you can add more or less to taste.
Prepping Fresh Herbs
Once you've chosen your herbs you'll need to clean and prep them. Gently wash the herbs in cool water and let them dry completely. If you're using an herb with a woody stem like thyme or rosemary you'll want to be sure to pull the leaves off the stem. If you're using an herb with a soft stem, like parsley or cilantro, you can decide if you'd like to use the stem or just the leaves. Place the leaves and salt into your food processor.
Blending and Roasting
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Blend the salt and herbs in your food processor. You can blend them as coarsely or finely as you like, depending on how coarse you like your spices to be. Spread them in an even layer on a foil covered baking sheet and roast for two hours.
Once your salts are roasted and cooled, stir them to break up any chunks and place them in a container. If you're giving your salts as a gift, now is a great time to get creative. Look for an interesting wooden box to store the salts. If you have different flavors you can label the boxes with a wood burner or paint so your gift-recipient can remember which is which!
Glass jars are a safe and easy way to store your salts, and you can recycle old, empty jars into something new. Use ceramic paints to paint the name or initial of the herbs on the side of the jar. Paint the lid to match for a perfect gift, or just to look great on your spice rack.
Of course, with all the cool ways to store your yummy salt, a shaker is always a good bet. Wrap twine around the base and secure with hot glue to add a personal touch. Write out an identifying tag and attach it to the top with a bit of matching twine for the finishing touch.