Be honest. You go to fancy places like Dean & Deluca or William Sonoma or [enter fancy grocery store here] and ogle their gourmet products. Chili infused olive oil, black truffle oil, lavender sea salt. Sometimes you’re even crazy enough to shell out the big bucks for a thimble sized bottle of the good stuff. You imagine your next dinner party and the guests gathering around the table. No matter that you’re serving a basic pot roast. Just think how sophisticated you’ll seem when they see your salt shaker is filled with not regular table salt (can you imagine?) but Himalayan rock salt with eucalyptus oil.
Okay, I might be exaggerating just a little. But really, you have to think, what makes these fancy salts so expensive? Are they worth it? Well, it’s really up to you if you deem fancy salts important or not but I can tell you the prices they’re charging in the store are so not worth it. In reality, you’re looking at plain old salt (sea or even rock if you choose) blended with spices and let to sit for a period of time until the salt is properly flavored. Why spend the money when you can do it yourself for a fraction of the cost. Plus, your friends will think you’re much more impressive when they hear you made the salt yourself (no need to tell them it’s a 5 minute process).
So far I’ve made two flavors of salt–lime chili and vanilla. The lime chili was a tad more spicy than I expected. I went with coarse sea salt, but you can also consider using fine salt, then used the finished product to rim your next margarita (yes, eventually it all comes down to booze). I plan on using my stash sprinkled in some olive oil for bread dipping, rubbing steaks before grilling, maybe some seasoning for a roast chicken or really any other general cooking that needs a little something special. The vanilla salt I’m absolutely in love with. I love, love, LOVE combinations of sweet and salty. This salt is the perfect garnish for buttered or jammed toast, sprinkle over a caramel dessert, finishing cookies, cupcakes or brownies–really anything you want to add another dimension to.
The recipe is pretty basic and can be interchangeable with a number of ingredients. The basic recipe is 1 teaspoon of seasoning to 1/4 cup salt, then pump up the flavor as desired from there. For the vanilla salt, I used 1 cup of salt and the seeds of three vanilla beans. The trick is to gradually blend the salt and spices together to get a more intense flavor.
Lime Chili Salt (Makes about a cup)
- 1 tbsp dried lime zest (just zest and let it sit out overnight)
- 1 dried chili, seeds removed and broken into small pieces
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 c coarse sea salt, divided
Grind zest, chili and cumin with a mortar and pestle briefly to blend.
Add 1/4 cup of salt to the mortar and continue grinding. You want to make sure any large parts of the chili are broken down and the salt and spices are well integrated.Slowly add the rest of the salt, while continuing to mix with the pestle. Store in an airtight jar for about 2 weeks, shaking ever few days, before using. Salt keeps indefinitely.
I’m not really sure how much salt we can possible consume, but here’s some other combinations I’ve considered for next time.
Rosemary-Lemon • Lavender • Curry • Ginger-Lemongrass • Chocolate