My herb garden again provided an abundant harvest bountiful enough to share with family and friends. Â Homemade infused sea salts and herb spice mixes makes marvelous holiday gifts that are always appreciated.
I dry my herb harvest through out the growing season. Â My final picking this year was in November while a light snow was falling. Â If you don't grow your own herbs, you can certainly utilize purchased herbs, just be sure you use the finest ingredients. Â Your final product is only as good as the individual components.
I made herbal bread dipping mixes to use with olive oil, herbs de provence, pink Himalayan sea salt infused with raspberry Merlot, French gray sea salt with micro brewery beer, flake salt with rosemary, and citrus dead sea salt with lemon and lime and hickory smoked sea salt and lemon pepper.
I used my garden culinary herbs: Â Basil, Oregano, Marjoram, Thyme, Lavender, Sage and Mints.
Here are the flavorful sea salts that I chose: Â Pink Himalayan, French Grey, Black Hawaiian, Flake Salt and Dead Sea Salts - both coarse and fine grinds.
The infusion process is simple. Â For herbs, simply combine Â a handful of your fresh or newly dried herbs with the salt of your choice. Â You can process the herbs in a mortar and pestle, spice grinder or food processor. Â If you are using dried herbs, be sure you use plant material that is freshly dried with high aromatic oil content. Â Allow the salts to infuse over a few weeks for optimum flavor.
Here is my rosemary flake salt, I include a spring of the herb in each jar.
I also infuse salts with liquid flavorings. Â I made an artisan beer - Amber Oak Stout, a raspberry Merlot and Citrus Lemon Lime salt.
You need to reduce any liquid to a thick syrup before adding the salt. Â I boil down the beer, wine and juices. Â Keep a close eye, once the fluid is thick enough to cover a spoon it is ready to go but be careful, it can easily burn once you get to the syrup stage. Â A full bottle of wine is reduced to a couple of tablespoons. Â Once reduced and cooled, add enough salt to absorb the liquid, spread the salt on a parchment covered cookie sheet and place in a low oven, 170 degrees for 1 to 2 hours, until well dried.
The lemon lime citrus fusion sea salt was made with reduced juices and the zest of the fruit. Â The same process was used, the zest is added after the salt is combined with the reduced syrup before drying in the oven.
The herb mixes utilize flavorful properly dried herbs. Â I did bread dipping mixes that can be combined with quality olive oil and grated cheeses for a classic appetizer. Â These versatile blends can also be used to enhance roasting vegetables, meats and seafood, yogurt or sour cream dips as well.
My garden provided the sun dried heirloom tomatoes and herbs for these mixes.
Herb Citrus Blend contains 3 parts sweet basil, one part Italian parsley, one part thyme, lemon and lime zest, crushed red pepper and sea salt to taste.
My Sun Dried Heirloom Tuscan Herb blend has my garden herbs: Â 2 parts basil, one part oregano, one part parsley combined with granulated garlic and minced sun dried tomatoes from my garden.
Lemon Pepper is a simple mix of lemon rind, freshly ground tri color peppercorns and sea salt. Â I used equal amounts of each. Â You can customize the blend with dehydrated garlic, onion powder or whatever spices appeal to your tastes.
Package up your creations in jars, tins, glassine or cellophane bags. Â You can choose rustic style, something whimsical or modern. Embellish the jars with beads, charms, hemp cord or fabric dust covers.
Â Make some nice tags, include instructions and ingredients on the back of the tags. Â Assemble gift sets or baskets.
You can do tins, bags or baskets. Â Economical options can be found around the house or at dollar stores, even a brown kraft shopping bag decorated with a sprig of pine is charming. Â If you need a more upscale gift, choose a container that can be reused - a lovely tray, wire organizer, fine crafted basket, a vintage blue enamel basin, add a dipping bowl, organic virgin olive oil, crusty artisan bread etc.
Invest a little time and gift your loved ones with delicious gourmet herbs, salts and spices. Â You will be giving a one of a kind present that is sure to fill your friends with wonder and good taste that lasts for months.
Thanks for visiting,