What do you do when you have more herbs than you can use? One solution is to preserve them in salt. With more herbs, than the time or energy to cook, a Thanksgiving day, many a year ago, I decided to shortcut the process for making herbed salt. Opting to “dump” the herbs into a salt jar. Rather than the traditional method of spreading the salt and herbs out on a baking sheet. Washing another clunky dish was not appealing and nor was wasting the herbs. With little to no energy, I put my faith in salt’s fire element. Hoping whether the salt and herbs were on a baking sheet or in a jar, salt’s heat would still extract and dry, in-turn preserving the herbs.
Every day or two, I’d check up on the mixture and give the fragrant blend a stir. The aroma was as divine as therapeutic. Bringing a little sunshine to the cold, fall days. After about a week, I had a lovely jar of herbed salt. Fortunately, the short-cut method worked and since that Thanksgiving day, the same vintage blue jar still remains invisibly labeled as the waste-not-herbed-salt-jar. Where extra herbs are continuously dumped-in’ followed by a mineral-rich rock salt.
Shortly after the success of my initial experiment, I starting sprinkling in citrus zest from limes, lemons, and oranges. This brought a new dimension to the blend and led me to zest or peel any citrus before juicing it. Since I tend to use a lot of citruses, I’ve now also created a jar labeled, waste-not-raw sugar. In addition to herbs and citrus, I add leftover ground toasted spices like coriander, cumin, fennel, and black pepper. Who knows what will ‘dumped-in’ next. There is no formula to making waste-not-salt, except remembering to add more salt every now and then.
Birthed from a mother who engrained reusing, recycling, repurposing into our daily life, food waste was a no-no. From how we trimmed our fruit and veggies, to saving glass jars, practicing waste reduction was a core value in my childhood home. A practice, I practiced for many a decade. Eventually, transforming into muscle memory, a ritual, a mindful daily living practice. Which in some ways has become an unconscious act, yet still fostering new, creative ideas on how to prevent waste, repurpose and reuse.
Requiring little to no effort, this ritual makes spicing it up easier. When time is of the essence, I reach for my herbed salt jar. Of course, you never exactly know what to expect flavor wise, but it has yet to disappoint. I’ve sprinkled the salt on eggs, in baked goods, soup, stews, grains, as a rub, etc.. its been keeping life salty and spiced up in a good away.
Waste Not | Herb & Citrus Salt
What you need: a jar
- 1/2 to 1 cup Himalayan or Sea Salt
- Fresh herbs
- Citrus zest (optional)
- Add salt to your favorite glass jar, mix in the fresh herbs. They can be de-stemmed or slightly chopped (especially rosemary) and zest. Let the mixture sit for a few days so the salt grasps the flavors of herbs and zest. Store in a cool, dry space, occasionally stirring if desired.
*Notes from our test kitchen:
- Herbs can be continuously be stirred into the jar. As salt reduces, or quantity of herbs increase add more salt. Ensure herbs are well coated.
- Leftover toasted spices also make a great addition.
- There is no rhythm or rhyme to waste-not salt, trust your eyes, nose, and hands.
- After adding fresh ingredients give the mixture a stir every day or so prevent clumps and ensure the salt is doing its job.