VIDEO BLOG: Season up your Salt the DIY Way


As Food Gurus, we work and play hard to savor our food and travel experiences. Whether we are local or abroad, we search for artisan ingredients to incorporate into our home cooking. We have integrated these passions and have shared them on and offline. Through Instagram, we met a DIY Dilettante, Nicole Novak. She forages mushrooms, gardens, goes fishing, ferments foods, makes Kombucha, crafts cocktails, and DIYs seasoned salts. Nicole was our Seasoning Guide and Guru for salt making!

There are different ways to season salt such as with herbs, spices, and dried fruits. Even the choices of high quality sea salt vary in degrees of coarseness, which can alter the taste and texture. For the recipes below, we used 3 different salts from fine to coarse from San Francisco Salt Company. Nicole recommends fine salt for cooking and coarse salt for finishing.

We used the oven for drying ingredients, but for as little as $30, you can purchase a dehydrator. All of these seasoning ingredients will take about 12-24 hours to dry depending on how moist they were to start and the volume of product.

Chipotle Salt

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 dried Chipotle Peppers = about 1 tsp of Chile Powder
  • ¼  cup French Grey Sea Salt

The process to get them from fresh to dried is challenging because it needs to be smoked for long periods of time. Nicole suggests purchasing it already dried. Her recommendation for dried Chipotle is to either go online to Penzey Spices or you can find it in many gourmet markets.

Oven Directions:

  1. Put on surgical or rubber gloves and remove chile stems.
  2. Roughly chop and place in coffee grinder until it’s finely ground.
  3. Combine chile powder with salt in a small bowl.
  4. Using a small funnel, pour mixture into a small jar for storage.
  5. Label jar.

Alternative Seasoning Combinations:

Add Chipotle with dried pieces of onions, cilantro, or lime zest.

Tips on Ways to Use:

Chipotle can be used in just about any Mexican dish. Try it in a salsa, hot sauce, mixed with cheese on a quesadilla, sprinkled on poultry or fish before grilling, in a Mexican stew, or soups.

Domestic Mushroom Salt Rub

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of Fine Pink Himalayan Salt
  • ¼ cup of Mushroom Powder (Oyster, Shiitake, Portobello, or Cremini)

Oven Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to the lowest temperature.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto baking sheet.
  3. Slice mushrooms into ½ inch thick slices. Arrange the sliced mushrooms on a baking sheet in a single layer leaving a little space between each slice.
  4. Put baking sheet on middle rack and leave oven door partially ajar. (A heat resistant silicon hot pad works well to keep the oven door slightly open.)
  5. Check mushrooms every hour. If you see any moisture, pat dry with a paper towel. Excess moisture will cook the mushrooms instead of gently drying them. The process should take at least 12 hours. The mushrooms will be done when they can easily be snapped in half.
  6. Place dried mushrooms in food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend until the mushrooms are ground into a light powder. The powder will be very light–avoid inhaling the powdered spores. Let the powder rest before opening the processor to allow time for the powder to settle.
  7. Carefully pour the mushroom powder into a small bowl, add the salt, and mix gently.
  8. Using a small funnel, pour the mushroom salt into a small jar for storage.
  9. Label jar.

Dehydrator Directions:

  1. Temperature setting should be no higher than 105F degrees.
  2. It could take about 12-24 hours. Check at the 12 hour mark.
  3. Mushrooms will be done when they can easily be snapped in half.

Alternative Seasoning Combinations:

Flavor up compound butter with the leftover mushroom powder or on salmon.

Tips on Ways to Use:

Mushroom Salt, is a versatile seasoning. You can add it to any meat, soups, stews, sauces, vegetables, and it can even enhance the flavor of other mushrooms.

Lemon Thyme Salt

Ingredients:

  • ¼  cup of high quality Esprit de Sel Grey Sea Salt (any size from fine to coarse)
  • ⅛ cup of finely grated dried Lemon Zest (from approximately 4-6 large clean lemons)
  • ⅛ cup of crumbled dry Thyme Leaves.
  • Have extra lemon zest, add more salt

Oven Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170F degrees.
  2. Use Microplane to finely grate lemon zest onto a large baking pan covered with a sheet of parchment paper. Place a bunch of thyme sprigs onto the parchment paper adjacent to lemon zest.
  3. Put pan on the middle rack and check/rotate every 20 minutes until done, approximately 1½ hours.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool.
  5. Remove thyme from stems. Discard stems. Crush and grind thyme leaves finely with your fingers or you can use a grinder.
  6. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and mix well. Place a small funnel over a small storage jar and pour mixture into jar.
  7. Label jar.

Dehydrator Directions:

  1. Use the highest setting which should be about 145-150F degrees.
  2. For the thyme, recommend a temperature of about 125F.

Alternative Seasoning Combinations:

Replace thyme with rosemary, oregano, or any herbs of your choice.

Tips on Ways to Use:

Sprinkle on poultry, fish, for a cocktail rimmer on a lemon drop (might have to be less coarse salt), over ice cream, on grilled figs with cheese, and even to top off a chocolate dessert. Not recommended for red meat.

Creating your own artisanal seasoning elevates any home cooked meal to a 4+ star dining experience. A simple ingredient combined with small amounts of sea salt can go a long way from the first bite to aftertaste. Our second blog will have more recipes on ways to implement these 3 salts into a full-course meal from our DIY Dilettante, Nicole Novak.

Written by Debbie Sultan with recipes by Nicole Novak.

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