Here’s a helpful tip from the Houseproud kitchen: thyme salt makes just about everything taste better. Really, it’s true! I’ve made all sorts of herb salts, but I use thyme salt the most. It goes with almost everything. It tastes yummy whisked into a salad dressing, tucked under the skin of a roasted chicken, or sprinkled on toasted olive bread. It’s become a critical part of the brine I make for my “feta” tofu, so I keep it in constant stock. It’s a very useful thing to have on hand, but it does take a little time to make (SNORT, giggle, giggle). Really, the only downside of making thyme salt is that separating the tiny leaves from their stems is such a tedious task. But that’s one of the reasons why thyme salt makes a thoughtful gift for your fav’rite cook: you’ll being doing the grunt work for your lucky recipient!
Thyme salt requires two ingredients: a bundle of fresh thyme and about a cup of sea salt – keeping in mind the basic rule of thumb for herb salts, which is to have an equal ratio between the fresh herb and the salt. The process itself is simple, too. Start by rinsing and shaking dry a bunch of fresh thyme. March the stems across a clean kitchen towel, grab a good sized bowl, and start carefully plucking the tiny leaves. You’ll be at it for a while, so put some good music on in the kitchen, take yourself out into the garden, or bring your kit into the living room and gossip with your beloved whilst you pluck.* When you’ve finished plucking, having either run out of stems or patience, measure the leaves. Save a few of the denuded stems in the freezer for your next batch of stock, and compost the rest. Put the leaves and an equal amount of sea salt in a jar, mix lightly, and put aside UNCOVERED for a few days to cure. Stir the jar every day (or more frequently if you think of it). Depending on your kitchen’s ambient humidity, in a few days the thyme salt should have lost enough moisture to safely close the jar.**
You can start using the thyme salt immediately, but – if kept covered – it will last for months before it starts to fade. And, obviously, you can make an herb salt with any pungent herb. Our kitchen currently boasts the following herb salts: shredded mint leaf; whole mint leaf; whole leaf sage; whole leaf marjoram; and thyme salt. Using herb salts is very easy: either measure the leaves and salt together, as I do when making my “feta” tofu, or sift the salt out and only use the leaves. Depending on the pungency of its herb, the salt by itself will either faintly or strongly taste of its herb. The herbs themselves become deeply flavorful – dried, but completely unlike the dusty tasting dried herbs you buy at the supermarket. And unlike their fresh cousins, which are likely languishing unused in your fridge as I type, herb salts are easy to use, and are an instant pick-me-up for any savory dish. Want some ideas to spur you on??
- Sprinkle popcorn with sage salt and olive oil for a tasty cocktail snack.
- Toss ripe tomatoes with mint salt, olive oil, and lemon juice for a perfect late-summer salad.
- Add a little marjoram salt for a perfect finishing touch to anything made with tahini.
- Crumble some sage salt leaves and a little of the salt over panfried pork chops.
- Roll new potatoes in their skins with olive oil and some thyme salt, and roast in the oven.
Oh gracious, just typing those ideas has made me very hungry, so that’s it for this post – it’s tea and cooky time for me! Tune in next time for a few deets on how I convince ants that visiting the Houseproud homestead will lead to their ruin. I’ll make the post as short and sweet and amusing as I can, but I simply must share with someone other than the Mister exactly how murderous I feel about ants visiting the homestead. Until then and very fondly, yr little munakins, me.
*I shan’t tell you how long it took me to pluck my last bunch of thyme, as I suspect you’d get discouraged. I will say that I’m sure you’ve spent a much longer amount of time in one sitting browsing Pinterest / Instagram / Ravelry / whathaveyou, and with far less to show for it at the end.
**If you put a lid on your jar of herb salt before most of the moisture has evaporated, you’ll get something that’s more like a ferment than an herb salt. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, but it ain’t what you’re trying for now…