Herb-flavored salts and sugars are making their way into the kitchens of the hottest chefs and onto the shelves of the most exclusive cookery stores. But you don’t have to spend a fortune, or even leave home, to get yourself some of these hot new condiments. It’s easy to make herbed sugars and salts using fresh produce from your own garden.
1. Chop and dry your herbs:
Though it is possible use fresh herbs to make salts and sugars following these instructions, the final result may not store well and the water in the fresh plants can cause the salt or sugar to clump, making the final product hard to sprinkle evenly. For the most consistent results, chop your herbs and dry them for around twenty minutes in a dehydrator set at 110°F (43°C) or in an oven set at 200°F (93°C).
2. Measure out your salt or sugar:
The ratio of salt or sugar to dried herbs is largely a matter of taste and will change depending on the strength of the herb you are using. Start with one tablespoon of herb to ¼ cup of salt or sugar. Keep adding herbs a tablespoon at a time until you get the flavor profile you’re after.
3. Mix your salt or sugar and herbs:
You can blend your ingredients in a blender set on low or by hand with a mortar and pestle. Aim for breaking up the added herbs into grain sized pieces without turning the batch into dust.
The type of salt or sugar you use is up to you, and there are many fancy varieties of both that make attractive and tasty partners to your herbs. However, plain table salt or plain white sugar also work perfectly well.
The sky’s the limit when it comes to using flavored salts in savory dishes. Here are a few ideas for blends to get you started.
Rosemary: Nothing tastes better on grilled meat, lamb in particular, than rosemary salt. Add equal parts lemon zest for a Mediterranean flavor.
Parsley, sage, celery leaves, and thyme: This herbal quartet mixed with salt complements any poultry dish.
Herbs de Provence: Looking to add some French flair to your meal? Try mixing salt with this traditional mix of herbs and flowers: rosemary, fennel seed, marjoram, basil, thyme, lavender, oregano, and tarragon. This goes well in stews and soups.
Use flavored sugars sprinkled on baked goods before cooking or on warm popcorn, mixed in coffee, hot chocolate, tea, or lemonade, or around the rim of a specialty cocktail.
Mint: Mint-flavored sugar is perfect in lemonades or spooned over fresh berries.
Lavender: If you’re in the mood for something more exotic to sweeten your drinks or your baked goods, infuse your sugar with dried lavender, for a taste treat French cooks have loved for generations.
Rosemary: This herb isn’t just for the grill. The floral notes rosemary sugar provides turn simple sugar cookies or shortbreads into culinary masterpieces.
Making flavored sugars and salts from herbs in your own garden couldn’t be easier. Experiment with different herb combinations and ways to use your creations. Check out this great article on how to Make Your Own Herb Blends. And remember, herb-flavored sugars and salts not only make great condiments–they make great gifts as well!