Thursday, 19 April 2012

Herb-Infused Salt

Ground Herb Salt
How to Make Herb-Infused Salt

Herb-infused salt makes a useful flavoring for all kinds of meats and vegetables. Add it as part of a dry rub, or simply sprinkle it on top of salads or boiled potatoes. However, use your herb-infused salt sparingly. Most people eat more than the recommended dose of salt per day. One tsp. of table salt provides 25 mg more than the daily amount of sodium suggested for adults under 51 years old. The benefit of mixing the salt with herbs is that you get a lot of flavor with less sodium.  

Step 1
Heat your oven to the lowest setting -- around 140 degrees F if possible. 

 Step 2
Roughly chop 1 oz. each of parsley, dill, thyme, tarragon leaves or similar fresh green herbs. Spread out 5 oz. of herbs in total on a clean baking tray.  

Step 3
Put the tray in the oven and slowly cook the herbs for two hours until dry.  

Step 4
Pour 1/2 cup of coarse sea salt into a blender. Add the dried herbs. Pulse the mixture until well-ground. Store in a glass jar with lid.  

Sprigs of Herbs 

Step 1
Chop a small bunch of fresh rosemary or thyme into 2-inch-long sprigs. 

Step 2
Pour 1/2 cup of sea salt into a clean, dry saucepan. Add several sprigs of rosemary or similar herbs.  

Step 3
Gently heat the salt and herbs over a low to medium stove setting. Allow to cool.

 
Step 4
Pick out any browned or darkened herbs. Add a few sprigs of fresh herbs. Pour the herb-infused salt into a jar and seal the lid.
   
Tips and Warnings
Add a pinch of chili flakes for an extra kick to your herb salt. Add black peppercorns to the blender for a combination of seasonings.
Avoid herbs such as basil and mint, which don't react well to oven baking and may add an unpleasant taste to the salt.
Things You'll Need
1/2 cup of sea salt
1 oz. parsley, thyme or other fragrant herbs
Baking tray
Blender
Glass jar with lid
Bunch of rosemary
Saucepan          
Facts on Herbs and Spiceshttp://photos2.demandstudios.com/DM-Resize/photos.demandstudios.com/162/146/fotolia_2488031_XS.jpg?h=10000&w=400&keep_ratio=1The signature of a dish is often the herbs and spices used to reflect individual style, flavor and aroma. Whole, ground or fresh, these earthly jewels have been used for centuries by cultures worldwide to add flavor without adding fat or calories. A pinch, dash or spoonful of herbs and spices can make ordinary dishes extraordinary.  
Types of Fresh Herbs
Herbs come in many types: fresh and dried culinary herbs, medicinal herbs, decorative and fragrant herbs. Culinary herbs are specifically used for cooking, available in many varieties and easily purchased at grocery stores and farmer's markets. "Popular fresh herbs include basil, cilantro, mint, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, lemon balm, sage and parsley," according to Jeanine Davis of the Horticultural Department of NC State.
 
 Whole Spices
Purchase whole spices as they are cost effective and the flavor and potency of the spice keep fresh longer. Toasting or roasting whole spices really intensifies the flavor and can add flair to any dish. "Whole spices stay fresh for three to four years," according to McCormick Spice Company.
The oils and aromas of a whole spice, such as black pepper, are not released until grinding, which extends the shelf life. Grinding is simple and can be accomplished by using an automatic grinder, mortar and pestle, blender or pepper mill.  

Ground Spices
Ground spices are convenient, easily accessible and best if used in short cooking recipes as the flavors are quickly released. The shelf life of ground spices is two to three years, according to McCormick Spice Company. It is not uncommon for ground spices to quickly lose flavor and potency, especially if exposed to heat, light or moisture.  

Growing Fresh Culinary Herbs
Culinary design is enhanced through the use of fresh herbs. Growing an herb garden is both easy to start and maintain. The first consideration however, is to inventory the herbs most used in everyday cooking. If cilantro, basil and parsley are the most popular in your household, start there. Seed propagation can begin in the late winter, or herbs may be purchased as small plants and re-potted. Herbs can be grown indoors or outdoors and require little care; harvesting tends to encourage growth.  

Healthy Spices
Spices add flavor without adding fat, salt, sugar, or cholesterol, and some contain a surprising amount of healthy benefits. There are seven super spices:
1. Cinnamon: antioxidant and may help regulate blood sugar levels.
2. Ginger: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, eases digestion and reduces pain.
3. Oregano: antimicrobial properties to fight bacteria and parasites.
4. Red pepper: contains capsaicin to boost metabolism.
5. Rosemary: antioxidant linked to good health.
6. Thyme: flavonoids provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits
7. Yellow curry: contains curcumin, a compound and pigment that may inhibit cancer cell growth, decrease inflammation and protect against brain plaque.

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