This month’s Food in Jars Challenge was to preserve food in salt. There were a lot of interesting ideas like preserving egg yolks, making a veggie soup base, herb salts, salt preserved lemons, and more. I’m a huge salt junkie. I have close to 15 kinds of salt in my house, so I was on board.
I had to rush last month’s marmalade challenge because of illness and travel. That illness developed into bronchitis and has been trying to morph into pneumonia, so I did not get to do all of the fun projects that my busy head concocted. I decided to keep it simple and go with the herbal salt project.
I had looked into this a while back. I ordered a huge bag of “sea” salt from my health food co-op just to keep as long term storage. When it came I realized it was plain refined salt. After researching I found that the only criteria to call something sea salt was that it came from a sea. Since even the land based salt beds were once seas then that pretty much means any salt.
I don’t really care for a salt that is 99% sodium so I tried to think of ways to use it up. I thought about making bath salts, salt scrubs, flavor infused salts, etc. and giving them as gifts or selling them. I never settled on an idea because I have this problem where ideas keep coming and I load myself with so much information that I can’t put it all together.
This project was no exception. Maybe being sick has given me the edge because I am forced to simplify. I looked at three different methods of making an herbal salt. One from The Prairie Homestead involved mincing the herbs along with the salt then storing in a jar in the fridge. Another from How Sweet Eats called for drying in the microwave. This was quick, but involved standing over the microwave to monitor drying.
I settled on A Raisin and a Porpoise‘s version mostly because it was simple and the results were quick if I chose to use my dehydrator. My love for puns may have subconsciously influenced my decision, too. I just got the basic instructions from her although I want to try out her recipes later.
I went with cilantro salt. I just minced the cilantro and salt with my handy herb mincer and spread onto some parchment paper in my dehydrator. I surfed the web, got mad at some political stuff, watched some YouTube, took a nap, and boom, it was done.
I’m not sure if I used enough salt. Some pictures online were salt with a few flecks of cilantro. The taste is plenty salty though. I used Real Salt brand salt for this batch. I tried it on some raw veggies and it was good. I also tried it on some cheese and liked the added flavor. I would really like some other flavors mingled in like citrus, garlic, etc.
One thing I notice is that the color is still strong. I have air dried cilantro in the past and it didn’t dry well. The color and flavor really diminished. The color and flavor seem to be retained with the salt added.
What I really like about this method is that I can preserve leftover herbs in a short batch situation. I am from Alabama. In the Deep South there is not a strong focus on herbs and spices. If we’ve got salt, pepper, bacon grease or a piece of pork we are usually good to go. When my husband would grow herbs I often wouldn’t use them very much. I told him to just quit growing them even though I hated going to buy cilantro when I wanted salsa. Now I can grow herbs and preserve them to use later or experiment with some custom blends to give as gifts. I’m looking forward to some more salt preserving experiments.