Operation Save What You Can: Homemade Flavored Salts

homemade flavored salt

If you have a herb garden, chances are this is the last call – they will start wasting away soon as the weather slowly changes. Here’s a great opportunity to save some of the fresh sprigs: make flavored salts with them!

Food enthusiasts like you and me will love these finishing salts because they add a pop of flavor to everything they touch. In this post I’m sharing a way to take your dishes from good to oh my faster than you can say fűszersó (flavored salt). DIY seasoned salts are a tasty and elegant addition to almost any food and considerably more economical to make at home than buying at high-end grocers and specialty spice stores.

And who wouldn’t want to add a layer of complexity to just about any meal and expand the flavors that are already present?

If you are family or a friend of mine, you know you can expect food gifts from me. These would make lovely housewarming presents, wedding favors or holiday sets as well.

homemade flavored salt

Infusing the salt is done by simply mixing it with whatever flavor you choose in a food processor, mortar and pestle, coffee grinder or simply by hand.

What type of salt should be used? It’s up to you! Coarse, flaky salt adds flair when sprinkled over dishes just before serving and is preferable for texture and appearance, while fine salt is more useful in cooking.

As for the herbs and spices to season salt with, the flavor possibilities  are limited only by your imagination. My favorite combinations include pairings like rosemary and lemon, thyme and lavender, dried mushrooms and sage, garlic and black pepper or chilies and lime.

Ingredients may be fresh or dried (a food dehydrator like this from Hamilton Beach is a good investment, you’ll be surprised how versatile an appliance it is). You may leave the sprigs of herbs whole, or chop to small pieces. Citrus rind can be grated or peeled into strips prior to drying, or you could also use slices.

Salt is a natural preserver, so your flavored salts, stored in an airtight container, can be used indefinitely (note that over time intensity of flavor will diminish). To avoid clumping, spread out mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and air dry or dry in the oven at low temperature, stirring occasionally. Once the moisture is gone and salt has cooled, use a fork or your fingers to break up before packing up in a nice container. Ideally, let it sit at least a few days before using.

As a rule of thumb, work with a ratio of 1 teaspoon of flavoring per 1/4 cup salt.

homemade flavored salt

homemade flavored salt

Now let’s hear it from you! What blends do you have in mind, and what are you going to use flavored salt on?

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders, what I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion. I am not being compensated through sponsorship or gifts, but this post contains an affiliate link: I may get a commission for purchases made through it. Thank you for helping me earn a little something on the side!*

Herb Infused Honey

herb infused honey titleGot the first whiff of fall at my neck of the woods which means I need to adjust my thinking about grabbing a jacket on my way out. This transitional time of year always has an ancestral effect on my psyche, like I need to collect and save stuff because you know, winter is coming. It’s funny how this instinct kicks in even though we live in a world where everything is available, always.

With cooler nights and days slowly but surely shortening, our morning rituals change as well. We stopped drinking tea around May, but know the demand is back. A pot of steaming goodness with a little honey and a few drops of lemon juice, accompanied by a purring furball in each of our laps. Talk about comfy.

As for honey, we don’t buy from the supermarket any more but are getting it by the bucket straight from a honey farmer. You should find a reputable local beekeeper close by too since it’s virtually impossible to know the source of honey on the shelves (remember the headlines of contaminated, illegally labeled Chinese products…). Honey is a classic example of the expression you get what you pay for and can get quite pricey, so buy in bulk.

Purchasing from the source not only helps keep local farmers in business, but it’s actually honey. From actual bees. Moreover, while most commercial honeys are pasteurized and ultra-filtered, honey farmers sell raw, unheated products that have retained all the nutritional benefits.

If you don’t like honey that crystallized over time, you can gently heat it in a water bath to dissolve, or you can divide a big batch to smaller portions and freeze, which will not harm the enzymes.

Crystallization isn’t an indication that the honey has gone bad, in fact, honey doesn’t have an expiration date. BTW honey that tends to solidify quickly has a high amount of pollen, which many mass-market manufacturers extract during the filtering process to make their product more visually appealing. What a waste!

Honey is antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and actively promotes the healing of tissues. Add the health benefits of herbs to the equation, and you have yourself a wonder-worker: apart from being insanely delicious, herbal honey may also be used medicinally (taken internally or used externally as well).

Sore throat? Sage honey. Toothache? Clove honey. Minor burns? Chamomile honey, and the list goes on. Enjoy straight from the spoon, in tea, lemonade, drizzled over desserts, fresh fruit, ice cream, oatmeal, on toast with butter, or even in salad dressings.

Rosemary, sage, thyme, mint, lemon balm, lavender, elderflower, chamomile and nettle all make lovely infused honey. You can also use spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger or star anise.

dried sage

Create single-herb infusions or figure out blends for your liking. Equal parts lavender, chamomile, lemon balm and nutmeg for instance makes a lovely concoction to help you fall asleep easy. The rule of thumb is 1 part herbs to 3 parts honey, but it’s not an exact science, freely adjust to taste and experiment. Like, I use less lavender than the aforementioned amount because it can get a little overwhelming.

dried lavender buds

Food safety: the typical pH value of honey ranges between 3.4 and 6.1 so it’s acidic enough. To make sure you prevent the outgrowth of C. botulinum spores, herbs should be dry. Use clean glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Herbal honey should keep indefinitely if you store it out of direct sunlight.

lavender infused honey

herb infused honey labeled

I made this tiny jar as a hostess gift with home grown lavender. You guessed, that is my handwriting. 🙂 I love these inexpensive kraft paper labels that I ordered at AliExpress, my favorite source for craft supplies. The basic recipe for infused honey is as follows:

Herb Infused Honey

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

mildly flavored raw honey

dried herbs

Directions

  1. Fill jar about ¼ of the way with dry herbs.
  2. Pour honey over herbs, close jar tightly.
  3. Let infuse for a few weeks, but at least 5 days. Herbs may rise to the top and absorb some of the honey.
  4. Strain honey into a clean jar, and make a big pot of tea right away with the leftover herbs.

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use the products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders. What I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion, I am not being compensated in any way through sponsorship or gifts.*

Photo featured in title image © KMNPhoto

Herb Marinated Feta

herb-marinated-feta-title

According to mythology, the gods sent Aristaios, son of Apollo, to teach Greeks the art of cheese making. This way or that, dating back to the 8th century BC, feta, a brined curd white cheese was born. It is a protected designation of origin product in the European Union, only cheeses produced in a traditional way in particular areas of Greece made from sheep’s milk, or from a mixture of sheep’s and goat’s milk can be called feta. However, similar white cheeses are produced in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans (made partly or wholly of cow’s milk). And I happen to be living around here! #luckygirl

herb-marinated-feta-cubes

Seriously, is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t like feta? I think not. And if you have about 5 minutes, I’ll show you how to take your cheese-eating to the next level by marinating it in herb-infused, fruity olive oil. Again, this is a delectable treat you may have encountered in your supermarket before that looks incredibly fancy and comes with a slightly outrageous price tag. Once you try your hands at it though, there’s no turning back: it will leave the commercial kind for dead.

herb-marinated-feta-ingredients

A Mediterranean-inspired smooth and spreadable delight, this crowd pleaser is sure to bring rave reviews from family and friends. Marinated feta is an impressive dinner party appetizer, an elegant hostess gift or a great addition to your wine o’clock menu, making you look like a culinary star. Spread it on crusty artisan bread, crumble onto salads, scatter over pizza or stick a toothpick in the cubes to serve as it is. Oh, and please, please do not discard of the remainig oil! It is great to toss with pasta, as a marinade for olives, roasting potatoes or vegetables, and as base for a vinaigrette too.

So without further ado, here’s how you do it. Start with a clean, sterilized jar and add chunks of feta (or any other kind of white cheese, use what’s available), the size you prefer. Add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and pour olive oil into the jar until the cheese is submerged. This is somewhere you don’t need to use the best, most expensive olive oil. Add dried herbs and/or spices (don’t be shy), seal jar and store in the fridge. Allow flavors to develop at least 24 hours, but patience is virtue – the longer the cheese is infusing the better. Refrigerated, marinated feta will keep for up to a month if completely covered with oil. The olive oil may thicken in the fridge, but will turn to liquid again at room temperature.

herb-marinated-feta-jar

To kick-start your imagination, here’s a not-at-all inclusive list of the wonderful things you can flavor the marinating oil with: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, sage, chives, dill, bay leaves, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, chili peppers, peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, green olives. Mix and match as you like!

This works with mozzarella just as well. Just sayin’… 😉

Fruzsi

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