Lavender and Sage Sea Salt

Autumn, Savory Recipes • 28 Sep 2012

Fall is settling upon us.  Its firm hands have yet to fully grip the elements, squeezing out its last drops of warmth. But the tide has turned and September has kindly bestowed glimpses of the near future. Thin, invisible tendrils of cool, crisp air creep between the window cracks at dawn. Chilly feet find themselves enrobed in soft socks and tart apple cider simmers on my stovetop, filling the air with autumn aromas and a bit of necessary warmth.

The desire for naked, raw ingredients is replaced by hankerings for tender roast meats, hearty stewed soups and steaming loaves of bread. I also use fewer fresh herbs in the cooler months, drying my own, in their peak, to use during the bleak season when fresh garden ingredients evanesce.  When dried, many herbs become hyperbolic, infusing deep aromas and flavors and ameliorating comforting autumn dishes. 

The marriage of peppery, earthy dried sage and floral, honeyed dried lavender is far from untraditional, yet the intoxicating aroma and tongue-tickling flavor is always awakening.  Such a wonderful and quintessentially autumn herb mixture transforms fancy sea salt into a show-stopping seasoning tool. Soft, pastel purple blended with mossy green, pulverized to a powder that smells of liquorice, mint and pepper enhances jeweled salt crystals, providing beautiful flecks of earth-tone herbaceousness.

I use this sea salt to dress up a crispy roasted chicken or lamb, enliven crackly garlic toasts and crunchy potato wedges. Sprinkle it on a perfect poached egg, in olive oil for dipping or on homemade potato chips and freshly popped popcorn. You can use flavored salts before cooking as a rub, or as a finishing touch to your perfectly roast chicken.

For flavored salts I usually use a flaky sea salt such as Maldon or Fleur de Sel. If you choose a thicker salt, I recommend a few whirls in a food processor or spice grinder to create lighter, more uniform flakes.  Generally I use a ratio of 1/4 cup salt to one teaspoon dried herbs. However, this varies depending on the herb and its potency.  If mixing and matching herbs, use a ratio that pleases your tongue.

Lavender and Sage Sea Salt

1/2 cup coarse salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon
2 teaspoons dried sage powder made from about 30-40 fresh sage leaves
1 rounded teaspoon dried culinary lavender (I use organic French lavender)

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees. Remove and discard sage stems and any damaged leaves. Rinse leaves under cold water and dry with a paper towel or soft cloth.

2. Line a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for about one hour, with the oven slightly ajar to avoid overheating. Remove herbs from the oven when they are very dry and brittle.

3. Pulse the herbs separately in a spice or coffee grinder until powdered. Set aside. Pulse sea salt a few times to break down the crystals a bit.

4. Combine herbs and salt in a small bowl and mix well. May be used as a rub or a finishing salt. Lasts about 6 months in an airtight container.

4 Responses

  1. Tiffany

    This looks so good! I may have to try this one! What other flavor combos do you use?  Great pics, btw! 

    • Thanks so much! You can really use any spice or herb you love. Green tea is a great one (you use green tea powder). Citrus zest makes lovely flavored salts (I love the combo of tangerine and lime). Was thinking of making a Hendricks gin inspired salt for roast pork with juniper berries, dried cucumber, and dried rose petals. Or else elderflower would work nicely with dried grapefruit zest. You can also do flavored sugars for sprinkling on pastry. Honestly, anything you love can work, as long as the herbs are potent enough to make an impact (dried parsley wouldn’t have much of a bang, for example).

  2. Fritz Shantz

    This is a wonderful concept.  I had never thought of infusing spices into salts (or sugars) but it sounds splendid.  Thanks for the idea.

  3. Wonderful idea! Thank you for sharing. Will definitely try this 🙂

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