Preserving herbs in salt is a tried-and-true method of preserving fresh herbs and making delicious seasoning. It’s a fast and easy project and when you’re done, you have a terrific kitchen staple. Herb salts have a long shelf life so that you can enjoy your freshly grown herbs all winter long.
Herbal salts liven up any recipe. How boring is it when the recipe states “add salt and pepper to taste”? Instead, you can add a custom seasoning mix that brings out the flavors in your cooking.
Best Herbs For Herb Salt
Obviously, the best herbs are the ones growing in your own garden. Fortunately, some of the most common herbs are good for making salt.
Parsley gives your herb salt a fresh summer taste. It’s perfect for gremolata, a famous Italian condiment. Mix together salt, parsley, chopped garlic and lemon zest for a seasoning perfect for sprinkling on asparagus and grilled salmon. Or combine it with tarragon, chives, and chervil for the classic French fines herbs.
You may be growing dill to make pickle seasoning, but it’s also a fantastic herb for salts and can be used to make gravlax, a classic Scandinavian salmon dish. It also pairs nicely with citrus zest, fennel, and celery seeds.
Mint lends salt a wonderful, fresh taste. When mixed with salt, it makes a nice addition to cocktails such as margaritas and juleps.
Lavender makes a sweet summery sensation. It pairs well with mints, especially spearmint and is used in the traditional “Herbs de Provence”.
Sage is a hardy perennial. With salt, it’s wonderful on pork dishes.
If you have limited space, thyme is the herb for you. It grows well indoors in pots or outside in a rock garden. It’s tasty in herb salt mixes. Lime zest goes well with thyme.
Cilantro does not keep long once picked, so making an herbal salt is a smart way to preserve its freshness. Use it in fresh salsas and Middle Eastern dishes. Cilantro combines well with basil, chives, parsley, and rosemary.
Rosemary is a fabulous herb for salts, especially used in a mix. Since rosemary is sensitive to cold, this is a good way to preserve your harvest. Rosemary salt mixes are ideal for meat rubs, poultry dishes, and soufflés.
Basil is an easy annual herb to grow and is used in so many dishes. This salt can be sprinkled on tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, pasta dishes, and eggs. It blends well with kosher salt.
There are many kinds of basil. Genevese basil is perfect for Italian dishes. Lemon basil is tasty as an herbal salt when mixed with lemon zest and coarse sea salt. Try that on your grilled fish – yum!
Best Salt To Use
It’s important to start with a good base. You can use basic table salt but it doesn’t have the flavor that specialty salts do. It’s also too finely ground for our purposes. Look for specialty salts instead.
Coarse Sea Salt
Coarse sea salt can be pulsed together with herbs in a food processor.
Kosher salt blends easily and is a good salt for beginners.
The color range of this sea salt from light pink to deep red depending on the trace minerals it contains. Himalayan salt is a good source of iron, magnesium, copper, and potassium.
Fleur de sel
The translation of this fabulous French sea salt means “flower of the salt,” and is sustainably produced by evaporating saline water in the open air using alternative energy sources. This type of salt has a higher than average moisture level and is a bit crunchy.
Wood Smoke Salt
This salt was developed for avid grillers. It’s a salt with a wood smoke flavor infused. It also works well in herbed salt recipes when grilling both meat and vegetables.
Basic Herb Salt Recipe
- 3 cups loosely-packed fresh herbs
- 1/2 cup coarse salt
Wash the herbs and remove coarse stems and any discolored leaves. Dry thoroughly.
Place your herbs on a cutting board. Remove any stems and coarsely chop the leaves. Use a sharp knife so that you don’t bruise the leaves.
Mix the salt and herbs together in a bowl. You can also chop up the herbs and salt together to help mix them. Keeping mixing until you have a coarse, uniform mixture.
If hand chopping is not your thing you can also use a food processor. Place the herbs and salt together in the processor. Briefly, pulse until you have a coarse grind. However, be careful while mixing. You do not want to end up with a paste.
Since the herbs are fresh, the mixture may be a tad moist. Spread on a baking pan and allow to air dry for several hours. Alternately you can place in an oven for one hour at the lowest setting.
Put the herb mixture into a glass mason jar or any other sturdy jar with a lid. Put in the refrigerator for ten days. This allows the flavors to meld together. Shake the mixture daily to help them mix.
You may want to stick a note on your fridge to remind you. Your mixture will last six months but you only need to shake the first ten days. You can continue to store in the fridge or put in a cool, dark pantry,
Herb Salt Recipes
Once you get the hang of the process of making herbal salts, it’s fun to experiment. You can easily make herbal salt mixes geared toward different uses. Some combinations are:
- Rosemary, oregano, thyme, and sage are a classic combo.
- Lavender and spearmint salt is ideal in desserts.
- “Herbs de Provence” salt made from rosemary, thyme, lavender, and summer savory is indispensable in French cooking.
- Rosemary, sage, garlic and lemon zest make a nice meat rub. Add several cloves of chopped garlic and lemon zest to your mixture and pulse for about a minute. You may need to stir every thirty seconds or so as the garlic has a tendency to stick to the bottom.
- Try a mix of thyme, rosemary, and lemon zest with sea salt to add flavor to your popcorn. Mix in some olive oil before putting on popcorn.
- Want a spicy pungent salt? Mix six cloves of garlic with one tablespoon of red pepper flakes and one cup kosher salt.
Ball‘s Smokey Sage Salt:
This spiced smoked sage salt from Ball is to die for:
- 1/4 cup wood-smoked salt
- 1/4 cup sea salt
- One tablespoon of grated orange peel
- One teaspoon. Chili flakes
- One teaspoon. whole black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup clean, dry, fresh sage leaves
Mix the salt and fresh herbs in a food processor or spice grinder and grind until they are well blended.
Spread the mixture thinly on a baking sheet and allow to air dry in a well-ventilated place for two to four days. The salt absorbs the moisture from the herbs. You can break up any clumps with your fingers. Alternately you may dehydrate herbal salts on the lowest setting in a dehydrator, about 95°F. Store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Spicy Salt from Food and Wine
- One cup rosemary leaves
- One cup thyme leaves and tender stems
- Two large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup coarse sea salt
- One teaspoon crushed red pepper
In a food processor or blender, pulse the herbs and garlic until chopped. Be careful not to over mix. Add the salt and pulse until finely chopped.
Next, add the crushed red pepper and pulse to blend. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and let stand, stirring occasionally about two days. You can also dry on the lowest setting of the oven for an hour. Transfer the mixture to a jar or manual spice grinder.
The herb salt can be stored in an airtight container for up to one year.
How To Use Herb Salts
Use herb salts to finish out your dish when it’s near the end of cooking, just remember a little goes a long way.
Herb salts also make a unique homemade gift. Put them in a pretty jar with a ribbon and bow and a little card with instructions.
We often think of herb salts as a meat rub or sprinkling into vegetable soup. However here are some places you may not have considered. They’re perfect on homemade potato wedges, corn on the cob, popcorn, and scrambled eggs.
Basically anywhere you use a pinch of salt to finish something, herb salt can work even better.