This holiday season give the gift of seasoned salt
BY J.M. HIRSCH Associated Press
Sunday, November 11, 2012
11/11/12 at 8:56 AM
It seemed like a tall order. I wanted an edible gift that was fast and easy to make, inexpensive, wouldn't spoil or need to be refrigerated and that kids could be involved in.
The solution I came up with - seasoned salts. The concept is simple. Blend salt with various seasonings, then package them nicely. The kids can even get in on decorating the jars.
There are just a few things to remember as you do this. Most important is that seasoned salts - whether prepared or purchased - are intended as finishing salts. That means they should be used to season finished dishes, not during cooking. Most of the nuanced flavor of a seasoned salt would be lost if used for cooking.
For gift purposes, I suggest planning for two kinds of salt - powdered salt, which is intended for use on popcorn, and flaked salt, which is for sprinkling over finished savory foods.
First, the powdered salt. The powdered part of this is key. Movie theater popcorn tends to be perfectly salted because vendors use powdered salt; this adheres to the corn kernels.
Making powdered salt is simple. Use inexpensive kosher salt (usually about $1.50 for a 3-pound box), then run it through a food processor or blender until it reaches the consistency of powdered sugar. Seasonings can be mixed in by hand after the salt is ground, or simply added to the processor or blender at the same time.
When selecting seasonings for popcorn salt, don't hesitate to get creative, even mixing sweet and savory flavors. But always aim to use seasonings with a similar texture as the powdered salt (in other words, finely ground seasonings such as cinnamon, paprika, garlic powder, etc.).
For flake salts intended to use on savory foods, you'll need to start with pricier flaked sea salt. With these salts, you simply mix them with the seasonings you want, then bottle them. Even easier than powdered salts.
POPCORN SALT COMBINATIONS
Each makes enough for 4 to 6 gifts, depending on jar size
1 pound kosher salt, six 3-inch cinnamon sticks, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (grind everything together)
1 pound kosher salt, 2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice blend (mix the spice blend into the salt after it is ground)
1 pound kosher salt, 4 teaspoons garlic powder, 4 teaspoons smoked paprika (mix the spice blend into the salt after it is ground)
1 pound kosher salt, 2 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan pepper (grind everything together)
SAVORY SALT COMBINATIONS
Each makes 1 to 2 gifts, depending on jar size
1/2 cup flaked salt, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup flaked salt, 1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seed, 2 teaspoons cumin seed, 2 teaspoons mustard powder
1/2 cup flaked salt, 2 teaspoons curry powder
Original Print Headline: Homemade seasoned salts make easy gifts
Sichuan pepper (top clockwise), cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and smoked paprika are versions of seasoned salts. MATTHEW MEAD / AP