When my city was hit with a mini ice storm a few weeks ago, I had to move my basil and apple mint plants inside. There is even less light in my apartment (the balcony faces an awkward direction not ideal for plants), so they're slowly dying. The mint looked faded, but the basil was starting to form major black spots, so I decided to use that up first.
I could have made basil pesto, but am so used to making kale pesto year-round that I wanted something a bit more special. I remembered stumbling across a blog post last summer that explained how to preserve homegrown herbs with sea salt and decided to give that a try. I'm so glad did!
Benefits of Making Your Own Sea Salt Blends:
- No anti-caking agents like silicone dioxide added. Just sea salt and whatever mix-in you want.
- WAY less expensive than buying it at the store. Some places charge an arm and a leg for a paltry 1-2 ounces of gourmet sea salts with mix-ins like fresh herbs, spices and fruit peels. Depending on where you live, making it at home will costs less than $2 for a CUP of gourmet sea salt and even less if you grow your own herbs or buy ingredients in bulk.
- They're excellent as gourmet finishing salts. In other words, you can add them to the dish at the very end after it's cooked for enhanced flavor.
- You can choose which salt you'd like as the base. There are lots to choose from, but some of my favorites are pink Himalayan, Celtic sea salt, Fleur de Sel and maldon sea salt.
After making my first batch with the last of my homegrown basil, I ran to the store to restock and make a few more cups. I plan on giving away small packets of basil sea salt as homemade Christmas gifts, along with a few other goodies like beef jerky. That is, if I can keep from eating it all myself.
DIY Gourmet Basil Sea Salt
Barely adapted from Pure Grace Farm's How to Preserve Homegrown Herbs with Sea Salt: In The Pantry
Yield: 1 cup
1/4-1/3 cup (2 to 3 ounces) of fresh basil leaves and stems, chopped
1 cup of sea salt (I used coarse kosher salt)
blender or immersion blender
large rimmed baking sheet or large cutting board
wax paper or parchment paper (optional)
clean kitchen towel
Tear off however much basil you want to use and keep the stems attached (those have lots of flavor and it all gets chopped up anyway). Chop the basil into small pieces so it's easier for the blender to break it up into the salt. Place the basil in the blender, or if you're using an immersion blender, into a large mixing bowl. Measure in 1 cup of sea salt and pulse for a minute or two until the basil is completely broken up (tiny pieces) and mixed with the sea salt. You may need to stop and mix the salt with a rubber spatula during this process. It has a tendency to get stuck at the bottom of the blender.
When you're finished the sea salt will be a fine texture (which is why I started with a coarse salt) and that's what we want. Tear off a large piece of wax or parchment paper to line a large surface such as a baking sheet or cutting board. Pour the salt onto the paper and spread it out in a thin, single layer. Break up any large clumps with your fingers and cover completely with a clean kitchen towel.
Place in a cool dark area (without direct sunlight) where it won't be disturbed. Let the sea salt sit for 12-24 hours, or until the salt has absorbed all the moisture from the basil and it's completely dry. The basil sea salt should still be green, but a lighter shade than when you first started. Transfer it to a container with a tight lid and use within six months!
Notes & Tips
- Because this is an all natural gourmet salt mixture, it will clump slightly. Simply give the salt a shake or rub the pieces between your fingers to break it up. If you're curious why this particular salt clumps and not the salt from the store, it's because commercial salts have silicone dioxide added to prevent clumping. Click here to read why I avoid refined table salt.
- When you first blend the basil sea salt, it will be a vivid green color. However, after drying the color will be a lighter green. It's still colorful, just not as noticeable. If it's not green enough for you, experiment with adding more basil, but make sure there is enough salt to dry it out.
- This is a great way to preserve your summer's bounty of basil and makes great gifts!
Give this a +1 if you love basil!
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I'd like to hear from YOU!
What's your favorite sea salt?
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