How-To & Diy

A New Way to Preserve Herbs

September 19, 2013

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Chef Jeff Mahin teaches us how to make herb salt -- with whatever herbs you have in your crisper.

Preserving herbs

Shop the Story

At this time of year, there's a lot of talk about preserving: Can your tomatoes! Jam those berries! Pickle that eggplant! 

There's a new way to get preserving, and it doesn't require a hot water bath or pounds and pounds of produce. In fact, you probably have the tools for it right now, knocking around your crisper drawer: fresh herbs.

Here's how to turn those herbs into a new pantry staple: herb salt.

At your local grocery store or farmer’s market, gather your favorite fresh herbs (like parsley, basil, dill, chives, or even flowers). The combination of herbs is up to your discretion, but for a good vegetable seasoning I recommend a blend of parsley, thyme and lemon zest.

Preserving herbs

Preheat your oven to 120°F (or the lowest setting possible on your oven -- even the pilot light would work for this). Wash all of your herbs, drying them as much as possible before spacing them out on a large sheet pan. Douse the herbs with a layer of kosher salt then add another layer of herbs, and repeat with another dousing of salt.

Herbs with salt from Food52

Place in oven and allow it to sit overnight. By the morning the herbs should be crisp and dry -- the salt helps to pull the water out of the herbs, and the heat of the oven dries them.

Dried herbs from Food52

Be sure herbs are completely dry before placing them in a blender or food processer. Blend or pulse to desired consistency.

Herb salt from Food52 Herb salt from Food52

Store dried herbs in a sealed tight mason jar in a cabinet where no light shines. 

Herb salt from Food52

How would you use your new herb salt? Let us know in the comments!

Photos by James Ransom               

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rain Eric
    Rain Eric
  • patricia gadsby
    patricia gadsby
  • Sonya
  • Heidi Vaught
    Heidi Vaught
  • martha allain
    martha allain
Jeff Mahin

Written by: Jeff Mahin

Jeff Mahin is a chef partner at Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises (LEYE) and the creative force behind Stella Barra Pizzeria (Santa Monica and Hollywood) and M Street Kitchen in Santa Monica, CA as well as Do-Rite Donuts in Chicago, IL, which opened in February 2012. At just 29 years old, Mahin has accumulated several industry accolades including Zagat “30 under 30” list in 2012, Forbes “30-under-30” list of hospitality industry up-and-comers in 2012 and Restaurant Hospitality’s 13 chef’s to watch in 2013. Mahin has worked in prestigious kitchens around the country, from Nobu in New York City to San Francisco’s Millennium, Blackhawk Grill and Patrick David’s. In 2006, he became a laboratory assistant at the three-star Michelin rated restaurant, The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, England under chef/owner Heston Blumenthal.


Rain E. October 10, 2020
Salt is a threat to health. (See Dr Greger's book, How Not To Die.) Hypertension, stomach cancer, heart disease... I'm avoiding added salt. There is natural sodium in herbs and veggies. Salt free version - Bake the washed fresh herb combo on the pan without adding salt. It will be delicious.

patricia G. March 29, 2020
Several years ago, for a 'Waste Not Want Not' series, I started oven-drying celery leaves, crumbling them when crisp, then mixing them with salt for a simple and versatile green celery-leaf salt. It makes a nice rimming salt for bloody Mary's btw. I prop the oven door slightly ajar with a wooden spoon handle to aid the oven-drying process.
Carol H. October 10, 2020
That sounds like a great idea; I love celery and I'm always looking for other ways to use it.
Sonya July 20, 2016
After drying in oven do you add both herbs and salt to processor? I like a nice chunky salt so not sure I'd want to process it. Any suggestion on salt to herb ratio?
Heidi V. August 12, 2014
Could you do something similar with say sugar and mint?
martha A. July 14, 2014
how to dry summer savory?
Carol H. July 13, 2014
What if you don't want foods you are herbing to taste salty? I am trying to cut down on salt by using herbs, not add salt to my diet.
maddogoday July 13, 2014
Carol H. July 13, 2014
Lee G. October 14, 2013
In regards to drying in jar vs. drying in the oven: if you mix the fresh herbs with the salt, the essential oils will be sealed in, making it a much for aromatic and flavorful salt than if you oven dry the herbs. We make such a salt in our product line for Scrumptious Pantry, and if you use fresh, you really need to have a good procedure down and add natural anti-bacterial preservatives such as garlic, because the water content in the fresh herbs will make them go bad otherwise. So to be on the safe side, oven drying might be better for home use.
Valerie September 25, 2013
I was just thinking about what I'll do with my herbs this year. Great idea, and I like the suggestion below to turn these into gifts.
Patty J. September 22, 2013
you can also blend the fresh herbs and salt to gether and then spread out on sheet pan and let dry a couple of days. No heat needed. The salt will dry the herbs on its own. Aslo add garlic to the mix too, if you'd like. Great recipe by Rosetta Kasper.
Kate B. September 19, 2013
I would sprinkle it on top of dark chocolate brownies!1
Greenstuff September 19, 2013
The Fävaken method might address some of the comments. They don't dry the herbs either, just as mrslarkin suggests. And no, Meticulous A, they don't remove the salt. They just chop, mix with salt, and sieve to remove woody stems. In an air-tight container, the herbs will stay green for about a month. Nilsson says that borage, oregano, and sage age well, and he lets them go brown. He likes fennel and lemon balm fresher and keeps them in the freezer. Here's the recipe I posted when I reviewed the Fävaken cookbook for FOOD52:
Brette W. September 19, 2013
Love that -- thanks Greenstuff!
rachel September 19, 2013
I love this! What a great way to get your salt and herb flavoring all in one step. Not sure why people are confused. This is just an herb infused salt. Now I know what to do with all my thyme!
mrslarkin September 19, 2013
reminds me of the dry rub i use on the Judy Bird - fresh sage and kosher salt blitzed in the mini chopper. no need for oven drying.

I would totally sprinkle this herb salt on popcorn!
mrslarkin September 19, 2013
p.s. this would make an awesome hostess gift, packaged in the cute mason jars here in Provisions.
Kenzi W. September 19, 2013
You're brilliant.
maddogoday September 19, 2013
How is this any different from just using dried herbs?
Meticulous A. September 19, 2013
this article does not explain how to and if to shake the salt out of the dried herbs hopefully before blending it! and why even refers to it as herb salt, are we suppose to be using it with salt in it? thanks.
Brette W. September 19, 2013
You're actually supposed to use the herb salt! Sprinkle it on things as you would salt, but you'll get an herbiness in there too!
Greenstuff September 19, 2013
Nice! Chef Magnus Nilsson of rural Sweden’s acclaimed restaurant, Fävaken, makes herb salts, because there are no fresh herbs in his northern winters. He keeps some of them in the freezer but allows others to age, fading to almost brown by springtime.