Over the past couple weeks, I was blessed with a bountiful harvest of fresh herbs. And being the kind of person to experiment and try new things, I decided to try my hand at something a little unusual that I wouldn’t have thought of if not for a book I was reading on using herbs in different ways – using salt and sugar!
Herb sugars and salts are things that are quite easy to make. All you need is a food processor (or mortar and pestle), some salt or sugar, and a jar to hold it. This time around, I experimented with a mint sugar, a rosemary salt, and a candied version of both mint and basil leaves.
Here’s the recipe I used, but feel free to use more or less mint depending on your preference
8 sprigs mint leaves
1.5 cups sugar
In a mortar and pestle, I mixed all the mint and sugar together and blended for about 5 minutes. Taking care to really crush the leaves to release the fragrant oils, it was a fun and refreshing process as you can smell the fresh, stimulating aroma of mint as you grind it all together.
After grinding, I spread the sugar out on a cookie sheet to dry for about an hour or two, then strained it into a jar (to remove the coarse leaves and break up the clumps of sugar.
My sugar now has a fresh minty flavour to it, and has a slight green tinge to it from the mint leaves. It looks delicious and can’t wait to try it!
-flavouring tea and coffee and hot chocolate
-baked goods (mint chocolate chip cookies perhaps?)
-gifts for friends/family
-sprinkled over fresh fruit
Making rosemary salt is pretty much the same process as the mint sugar. The rosemary that I grew was extremely fragrant and was an absolute pleasure to work with. Here are some before and after pictures.
-sprinkle over meat and potatoes
-use as a rub when baking or grilling
-gifts for friends and family
Owing to an abundance of fresh and delicious basil. I decided to try making some candied basil and mint leaves. Again, the recipe is super simple, and takes a minimal of prep and processing time.
1. Collect your herbs, wash and make sure it is completely dry before using
2. In a bowl, separate the white from 1 (or 2) eggs, depending on how many leaves you will be processing
3. In another bowl, prepare the sugar
3. Dip leaves in egg white
4. Leave to dry in a cool, dry place on a sheet of parchment paper
5. Serve and enjoy
-after dinner refreshment
-garnish for afternoon tea
-before meal appetizer
-a sweet treat and delicious indulgence
That’s about it for the herbs I was experimenting with. A couple of things to note.
1. Make sure the herbs are clean, washed, and fully dry before using it
2. Ensure the sugar and salt after mixing the herbs together are dry and do not have excess moisture before storing (especially in air-tight containers
3. Eat the candied mint and basil leaves within a couple days of processing for maximum taste and freshness
Herbs are so versatile and even a little bit will add a nice dash of flavour to any dish. I would highly encourage everyone to grow their own herbs, even if it’s in a small pot on a balcony or windowsill – it’ll do wonders to your home cooking