Monday, July 18, 2011

Herbs, Part 3

Last week we discussed herbal sugars: this week we're going to talk about herb salts. Just like sugar, salt can be infused with flavours, too. Depending on the size of the salt crystals, this may take quite a bit longer but again, the flavour results are well worth the wait!

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Galvanised Metal Pot with Lemon Thyme Set in Gravel with Shells
Linda Burgess

Infusing salt works exactly the same way as infusing sugar, except the results may take much longer (up to a year). This is because the salt compound does not react with the plant essential oils in the same fashion that sugar reacts to them (remember that all plants contain sugar, and therefore plant oils and sugars are natural friends).  However, herb-infused salts are well worth the wait.

Again, we need to take into account the interplay between sweet and savoury, and their exchanges here. So, for an experiment, you might try making a small amount of cinnamon salt. What to do with it? How about sprinkling it over sweet potatoes, brushed with olive oil, walnut oil, hazelnut oil, or grapeseed oil and roasted in the oven? Now, what can you make with vanilla salt? Mint salt (it's not as strange as it sounds, as you've probably eaten mint jelly with lamb)? Again, the list is limited only by your imagination. Later on we'll get into baking some more, and then we'll be using some of these herb salts in cakes and other goodies.

In the meantime, try using these herbs to infuse salt (remember they will take a while to perfume the salt), and then we will see the results in a few months. You'll be amazed at the flavour layers you can achieve with a few infusions!

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