DIY holiday gift: Flavored salts

Every year I like to have a homemade holiday gift that is useful for the recipients and economical for me to make in bulk. I enjoy giving gifts so I do tend to make a lot of them. This way, I always have a gift on hand to give to friends, to neighbors, to business associates, as a hostess gift or to an unexpected guest. Last year my friend, Melissa Timmer, gave me a fabulous culinary flavored salt and Iloved using it to flavor all sorts of dishes, even popcorn. I thought that would be a perfect homemade gift for the 2015 holiday season.

Holiday Gift Flavored Salt- Margaux Drake
Homemade flavored salts are a unique holiday gift idea that is easy and inexpensive to make. Flavored salts boost the taste of a dish and there are endless combinations. Think rosemary citrus, lemon thyme or simply lavender. Once you have the ingredients assembled then all you’ll need is a baking sheet, oven and knife. Here are a few recipes to get your creative juices flowing.

Rosemary Citrus Flavored Salt-Margaux DrakeRosemary Citrus Salt
makes one cup

1 cup kosher salt
6” fresh rosemary sprig
2 small oranges, zested

Lavender Salt
makes one cup

1 cup kosher salt
4 teaspoons lavender flowers, dried

Lemon Thyme Flavored Salt-Margaux Drake

Lemon Thyme Salt
makes one cup

1 cup kosher salt
6” fresh thyme sprig
2 small lemons, zested

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Place fresh herb sprigs and citrus zest on a baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, to remove all water content. Make sure to keep ingredients separated and also be sure to spread the zest out so it dries evenly. When thoroughly dried, remove from the oven and let it cool to touch. Remove the leaves from the herbs by running your fingers up the stem opposite the leaf pattern and set them aside in separate containers. Place citrus in separate containers as well. Put the rosemary and orange zest on a cutting board and mince finely with a chef’s knife or use a mortar and pestle if you have one. Repeat with the lavender and again with the lemon and thyme. Place each combination in separate bowls with a cup of kosher salt each and mix thoroughly. Pour each combination into small jars (making sure jars are thoroughly dried) and label accordingly. Wrap with a ribbon and an evergreen sprig from your garland, tree or yard. Set up a production line and make multiples at a time.

Basic Recipe:
Want to create your own combinations? Begin with one teaspoon of flavoring per 1/4 cup of salt and adjust flavorings to taste.

Lemon Thyme Flavored Salts label-Margaux Drake

I like to use kosher salt for projects like this because it is economical and the only ingredient listed on the box is “salt”, no anti-caking agents, or other additives. Also, this is a great way to use up any fresh herbs you may have grown in your garden over the summer. You may purchase dried herbs also, however it is more economical to grow your own. My lavender did not make it through the winter last year, so I did purchase dried lavender. Salt is a natural preservative so you know your gift will last for a while, but make sure your other ingredients are completely dry to avoid any clumping or caking. Obviously, the citrus you zest can be juiced too and, empty spice jars make for perfect packaging.  No waste in the kitchen!

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