Consumable gifts are the best.
I enjoy receiving homemade creations from my friends’ kitchens, especially fun stuff that I can use, over time, in my own dishes. Please give me …
Consumable gifts are the best.
I enjoy receiving homemade creations from my friends’ kitchens, especially fun stuff that I can use, over time, in my own dishes. Please give me vinegars, pickles, oils, spice mixes, teas, cordials, home-canned everything, and best of all, salts. I appreciate what I wouldn’t buy or make for myself, and when I sprinkle, shake, or pour out their bounty, I smile and remember the giver.
In years past, I’ve leaned into my stores of apple butter, peach sauce, and strawberry jam for the month long rounds of holiday giving, but I don’t home can as much, so rely more on making up batches of spice and hot drink mixes. It’s a delight to put on one of my cooking playlists (Hmm, wouldn’t that make a splendid gift!) and dance around while measuring and grinding spices. Using an opened seed packet as a template, I collage and paint gift packets to put my culinary powders and potions in.
One of the simplest and most appreciated gifts is herb salt. It magically lifts ordinary food to delicious extremes. Salt is elegant, even sophisticated to give, especially in a curvy jar with a ribbon and snazzy label. Better yet, include the recipe.
A friend confided that she has an empty jar of Vignalta Herbed Sea Salt in her pantry. She’d bought it five years ago, at Aldrich’s, loved it, but they stopped carrying it.
She’d tracked it down online, but it was $20 plus shipping. I looked at the ingredient list and wrote her a recipe. It’s the one I’m sharing and yummy on about everything.
I made a batch last night, stepping out into the garden with the first quarter moon overhead, to snip rosemary and sage. I like to use fresh herbs and raw garlic in salts. It makes a moist salt, so full of flavor. I use a coarse gray Celtic salt mixed with some Redmond’s Real Salt. Great pairing with lots of minerally mild, sweet notes. I added ground black pepper and garlic paste. Salt is a preservative, so it cures the herbs and garlic.
Tip: Start with a base amount of salt, say 1 cup or 200g. Put your other ingredients in proportion to the salt.
DIY ideas: Chili and Lime Salt, Dried Olive and Sundried Tomato Salt, Sriracha Salt, Hibiscus and Ginger Salt, Butcher’s Blend, Orange and Garlic Thyme Salt.
If making homemade gifts feels like too much, let me suggest buying local. I’m excited about the PT Blend, a seasoning salt from aldersmoked.com. It combines alder smoked paprika with garlic and alder smoked salt.
Charlie Bodony, owner of Some Like it Hot and Alder Smoked, is passionate about paprika, and grows his chilies, in relationship with farmers, in greenhouses around the Olympic Peninsula. He smokes with Red Alder, and they come out red and smelling smoky sweet. Charlie also makes smoked alder salt!
Makes 300g, about 1 cup
Made from sea salt and fresh herbs, rosemary and sage, grown in Port Townsend and blended with local garlic. Black pepper is added to perfect the flavor. It adds a true Coastal Mediterranean character to any dish.
1 cup/200g coarse sea salt (I used a bulk Celtic salt, it’s moist with a gray green color and perfect for seasoning salts.)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon/19g fine sea salt (I used bulk Redmond Real Salt)
½ cup (lightly packed)/10g fresh rosemary leaves, not stems
3 tablespoons/45g (about 6 to 8 large cloves) homemade garlic paste
2 tablespoons/3g chopped fresh garden sage leaves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon/9g whole black peppercorns
Using a spice grinder, grind the peppercorns with the fine sea salt.
Peel and chop the garlic and using a small food processor grind into a paste.
Measure and chop the herbs, grind together until fine in a small food processor.
Combine the coarse salt, fine salt and pepper, herbs, and garlic paste and pulse until evenly combined. It will be moist.
Put into small jars. You can use the salt right away, but the flavors will meld and deepen with time. Use within six months.
(Sidonie Maroon is culinary educator at The Food Co-op; abluedotkitchen.com. Follow Sidonie on The Food Co-op’s Facebook group, Cooking with the Co-op.)
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here