People collect different things. My mom, in her lifetime, has collected Precious Moments figurines, Longaberger baskets, and Cat’s Meow houses (which is hilarious, because she’s really not into cats at all). I have a friend who collects anything with elephants on it. Another friend collects travel experiences. I collect salts, apparently.
When we moved from San Francisco to Tokyo, I had to give away most of my pantry items rather than put them on the boat for an 8 week journey. Let’s just say that my coworkers at the time weren’t TOO sad to see me leave when they got to rummage through a different box of gourmet foodstuff every day. They took home jars of truffle risotto, imported pastas, jar after jar of herbs or spices, and lovely strawberry-balsamic jam that I had put up. One of my sadder days involved distributing a large tupperware container of salts that I had accumulated over the years. There were flavored ones, like truffle salt, garlic/whisky salt, and spicy salts. And there were lots of beautiful natural salts of varying colors and texture, like crunchy pink himalayan salts and the softer sel gris. In hindsight, I probably should have given the whole box to a friend for safekeeping since salt doesn’t really go bad. Oh well, hopefully they were put to good use in their new homes.
I find myself, now in Tokyo, accumulating salts again to replace the lost collection. But there are fewer flavored ones here; the variety tends to come more from color and texture. As a result, I’m experimenting with making my own flavored salts. It’s a lot of fun, incredibly easy, and there’s endless variety in it. I wanted to share my favorite new concoction with you: lemon & herb salt. It’s a combination of lemon zest, rosemary and thyme, but you could certainly customize it to suit your personal taste. Use only rosemary if you’re a rosemary fiend. Omit the lemon zest if you’re not a fan. Whatever you do, have fun with it!
Flavored salts also make lovely gifts for your foodie friends or relatives. They’ll appreciate it even more, knowing it’s handmade and unique! Just package the salt in a small glass container with a ribbon or tag. Ikea usually has great options, as does Target or even dollar stores sometimes. And when in doubt, the trusty mason jar always makes a lovely package.
I love to use this particular mixture on roasted or baked chicken, lamb or pork. Try it on roasted potatoes and other roasted vegetables. You can use it as a finishing salt on fried chicken. Put it in a Dijon mustard-based salad dressing. Sprinkle it over ricotta crostini. Try it on popcorn with some parmesan cheese. Finish homemade focaccia with it. I’d love to hear your ideas! How do you use flavored salts?
- 1/8 c sea salt (I used Morton's kosher salt)
- scant 1/4 c chopped fresh rosemary
- scant 1/4 c chopped fresh thyme
- zest from 1 lemon
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Toss to combine, using your fingers to separate out the lemon zest so it doesn't clump.
- Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet or in a casserole dish. Bake for 2 hours, tossing every 20-30 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool, then package it in an airtight container.
- The key is to use 3-4 times as much filler as you do salt (for examples, 1/4 cup of salt to 1 cup of herbs and zest). Otherwise your end product will be too salty for you to really taste the add-ins. I know it sounds crazy that a salt mixture would be too salty, but you would have to add so much to your dish to taste the rosemary that you couldn't eat the meal when you were done!