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.
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.
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.
Be sure herbs are completely dry before placing them in a blender or food processer. Blend or pulse to desired consistency.
Store dried herbs in a sealed tight mason jar in a cabinet where no light shines.
How would you use your new herb salt? Let us know in the comments!
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.