What to do when the herbs in your garden are growing like crazy and you are in need of some thoughtful, homemade gifts for friends and family? Herb salts are a perfect option!
I've never tried making my own spices before and haven’t even dried more than a handful of my own herbs until now. However, the mild Texas winter means my herbs are taking over the garden and need to be harvested. I also wanted to give my good friends and family a Christmas gift from my garden, so I thought now would be a great time to try out some homemade spices.
After some online searching, I opted to make herb salts, since it would stretch my herbs the furthest so that I could provide even more loved ones my homemade gift. I had quite a variety of herbs available, so I decided to go with two different recipes, as described below from the Vegan Mother Hubbard website.
ROSEMARY, CITRUS & PARSLEY
2 tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp rosemary (stem removed)
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tbsp kosher or sea salt*
LOVELY HERB SALT
1/4 cup parsley leaves (curly or flat leaf)*
2 tbsp dill (all but the finest stems removed)
2 tbsp sage leaves (no stems)
2 tsp oregano leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp rosemary (removed from stem)
3 tbsp kosher or sea salt
- Use a very sharp knife to chop the herbs into a very fine mince, or put the herbs into a food processor until finely minced.
- Pour the salt over the herbs. Continue to chop, until the salt is worked into the herbs, so you have a homogenous mixture (or add the salt the food processor and mix well)
- Spread the salt over a dinner plate, and allow the salt to dry overnight or until there is absolutely no moisture left. The herbs can also be dried in an oven.
- Store the dried salt in a sealed container. It will keep for 9-12 months.
NOTE: Do not use iodized table salt in the recipe. Kosher and sea salts have better flavor and a texture that will match the minced herbs.
I tripled or quadrupled the recipe in most cases, since I had so many harvest herbs from the garden, and I wanted to gift the salts to quite a few people. The whole process was quite simple, but was very time-consuming; primarily the part where I needed to remove the individual leaves from the rosemary. But then again, I’m pretty picky and want to make sure no leaves, woody stems, or little critters are getting into the picked leaves. I also opted for drying my finished herb salts in the oven instead of letting them air dry. I mainly did this because I was crunched for time and needed to get the salts packaged before they would have time to air dry.
To oven dry the herb salts, I spread them on baking sheets and put them in the oven at 170 degrees with the oven door slightly open. It is important to keep the door open for proper air circulation and to make sure the oven doesn't get above 200 degrees, otherwise the herbs will cook instead of drying. Every 30 minutes, I removed the herbs from the oven and stirred them up to make sure they were evenly drying. The baking sheets that had thinly spread salts on them took about one hour total to dry, while the sheets that had a lot of herbs took about two to three hours to dry. The process worked well, however, I wonder if letting the herbs dry out naturally or in a food dehydrator would keep them more flavorful. I’ll have to try another method next time to compare the difference.
I then packaged the salts in 4-oz. glass jars that I purchased online and labeled with chalk labels. The salts should keep for 9-12 months and can be used to flavor a wide variety of dishes, including poultry, red meat, fish, cooked vegetables, and salads. I hope my friends and family enjoy my homemade gifts!