Basil salt

Herbs are a blessing and a curse in our house.  We grow basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, and flat leaf parsley every year.  We attempt cilantro with great hope each season, and usually get one usable batch before it goes to seed or dies in our scorching Chicago summer (luckily, we get plenty of cilantro from the farmer).  I give a lot of rosemary to my friend Jin, who makes the most refreshing infused waters (for some reason, when I try this method it tastes awful).  I use the other herbs in veggie and traditional lasagna, but at the end of the growing season I am scrambling to use gallon-sized bags of goodness before they turn slimy.  My automatic response is to make savory herb bread, which I can easily freeze and pull out for impromptu dinners or book club offerings.  Recently I come across this interesting idea in the pile, another Good Housekeeping recipe, published in September 2014.

Homemade Basil Salt
In food processor, pulse 1/3 cup packed basil leaves, 1 tablespoon snipped chives and 3 tablespoons kosher salt until very finely chopped; transfer to small bowl. Stir in 3 more tablespoons kosher salt. Spread in thin layer on waxed paper–lined baking sheet. Let dry at room temperature 24 hours. Makes 1/2 cup. Store in airtight container up to 4 months. Use for fish, vegetables, pasta or chicken.

I had a bag of cilantro from the farmer, and came across a bag of oxidized basil in the refrigerator, which smelled and tasted fine, so I gave this herb salt a literal whirl in my trusty Cuisinart. I made one batch of each salt, omitting the chives in the basil salt because I was too lazy to see if we had any left in our garden.

I laid the salts out on baking sheets in the dining room for the requisite drying time.  Walking through the room was a heady, floral experience better than any commercial air freshener!

Cilantro salt on the left; basil salt on the right.

I had trouble getting the wet salt to spread thinly, so it dried more in clumps, meaning I’ll need to crumble the salt when I store it away.  The basil salt smells beautiful, and tastes like….salt.  The cilantro salt has no obvious aroma, and tastes like….salt.  So when I actually use these salts on fish, or vegetables, or whatever, we’ll see if any flavor comes through.

Verdict:  The jury is still out until I cook with the salts.  It’s better than throwing away bags of herbs, and they look pretty, but for now I’m sticking to my herb breads and lasagnas for a better application.


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