(SPOILER ALERT: I might be giving away your Christmas present from me right now).
I am a sucker for those specialty stores that have flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegars, infused salts, soaps, and knick-knacks that are too cute to pass up that I really don’t need but I frequently buy because you never know when I might need to give a gift. But I always end up using them myself. I know, I have no self control, terrible. (Autumn- if you read this I promise some day I will buy the Autumn Spice Blend from Old Town Spice & Tea Merchants and actually give it to you like I intended to 3 months ago…) Anyways, I was browsing Pinterest one day and saw a recipe for making lime infused salt kinda like what you might see in one of those stores and started thinking about other flavors that might be good. Then I had a genius idea- Last year I made homemade salted caramels and they were a huge hit and since we are on a tight budget again this Christmas I could make a few flavors of Infused Salt and package them up in pretty little containers for all my gifts.
They turned out SO cute! And tasty. And they are perfect for just about anyone who even sort of enjoys cooking. Or eating. Basically everyone. I chose three flavors: Pinot Noir, Roasted Garlic, and Maple Bacon. Pinterest is chock full of other flavor ideas if you want to try different ones but below are my recipes for the flavors I chose. I will be honest with you that these do take a little bit of time to make as you need to let any moisture evaporate completely before packaging them up. The wine takes about an hour or so to reduce and the garlic will need to roast for an hour, then cool before adding the salt then returning it to the oven for drying. But it is SO worth it. The roasted garlic flavor is my favorite. It is so versatile, it pretty much goes on everything and roasting the garlic gives it an extra depth of flavor you don’t get in store bought garlic salt. My recipe for this yields a bit more than you will need for the 8 tins because I wanted to keep a little more of this one for myself because I know I will use it A LOT! And same with the Maple Bacon Salt. If you try or modify any of these let me know how they turn out.
What you will need: Coarse Sea Salt (it needs to be coarse so that it doesn’t dissolve in the wine or garlic mixtures), sheet pan, parchment paper, aluminum foil, a blender, containers and labels. I bought the salt and round spice tins from Mountain Rose Herbs. I used these 2oz round spice tins that were $0.85 each and bought this 5lb bag of coarse sea salt for $14.00. ***You will want to use a decent bottle of wine for the wine flavored salt as reducing it intensifies ALL the flavors, both good and bad. Also, pay attention to the color of the wine as this will also be the color of your salt. I used Castle Rock Pinot Noir which is about $8.00 a bottle. The flavor was lovely but the color is a little brownish. Unfortunately I didn’t consider the color when I chose my wine but now is my chance to recommend that you do this.*** Another tip, double the recipe for the bacon part to make extra bacon, it’s so good. I almost had to make another batch because my husband wouldn’t stop stealing little pieces of bacon while I was working on it. He even told me to make him Maple Bacon for his birthday instead of a cake. Make extra, just do it.
I printed out these labels (free download) and wrote on the flavor in the center along with “made with love from the Hellwegs” around the edge. Just print the labels on card stock paper and write your message on each. To attach them to the tins just cut them out and use a toothpick or paintbrush to spread a very thin layer of Elmer’s glue on the top of the lid then gently press the label onto the lid rubbing out any air bubbles.
The total cost on each salt are approximately as follows based on the ingredients I used including the tins: Wine Salt- $2.43 per tin (8 tins), Roasted Garlic Salt $1.58 per tin (14 tins), and Maple Bacon Salt $2.14. That comes out to about $6.00 per set for a totally personal and awesome gift. #winning
- 1.5 c coarse sea salt
- 1 bottle of good wine (*** see note above)
- In a non-stick pot reduce the entire bottle of wine over med-low heat until it has reduced to about 1.5 TBS and is a sticky, syrupy consistency. This took me about an hour, but check on it regularly especially towards the end so you don’t burn it.
- Stir in the salt with a wooden spoon until all the liquid is absorbed.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the salt out onto the paper.
- Place in a 200F oven for about 20 minutes. Turn oven off and leave the salt in the oven over night to continue drying out.
- Once the salt is dry (it may still be slightly sticky), put it into the blender and pulse on high until you reach the desired flake size. I kept this one as a medium grain.
- Recipe makes 12 oz total
- Package it up to be used on meets, on sandwiches, on salads, sprinkle on figs with goat cheese and honey…..
- 3 heads of garlic
- 2 cups coarse sea salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (both peppers are optional- but I love how they enhance the flavor)
- Cut just the very top off of each head of Garlic and drizzle with 2 TBS of olive oil.
- Wrap tightly in foil and bake at 400F for 1 hour.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool to touch.
- Squeeze the bottom of each clove to pop the garlic out and place it in a shallow baking dish.
- Once all the garlic is extracted, add the black pepper and cayenne pepper and use a fork to mash it into a paste.
- Stir in the coarse salt and place the dish back into the oven at 200F for 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes. After 30 minutes spread the salt onto a sheet of parchment paper and let the salt cool uncovered overnight or for at least a few hours until it is dry.
- Pour into the blender and pulse on high until you reach the desired flake size. I did a med/fine grind on this one so it can be used on popcorn.
- Recipe makes about 22 oz (you will be glad you have extra to keep for yourself, trust me)
- Package it up and put it on ALL THE THINGS. Veggies, fish, chicken, mashed potatoes, popcorn, sprinkle on fries with a little Parmesan…..so good.
- 2 TBS good quality pure maple syrup
- 1 lb of good quality bacon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1.5 cups coarse salt
- In a bowl mix together the maple syrup, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a baking rack on top.
- Press the slices of bacon into the maple mixture to coat evenly or use the back of a spoon to smooth the glaze onto the strips and place on a single layer on the baking rack, sprinkle any remaining glaze on top.
- Bake at 350F for 15 minutes or longer until the bacon is crisp. It will not work if the bacon is too soft or chewy. (I ended up cutting the tips of the bacon off and putting the centers back in to cook a little longer).
- Let cool for a few minutes before moving to a piece of parchment paper to cool completely.
- Break into small pieces and put in the blender. Pulse 5-6 times before adding the salt.
- Add the salt and pulse a few more times, scraping down the sides with a spatula in between. I left this blend pretty coarse.
- Recipe makes about 18oz (again, you will be glad for the extra)
- Sprinkle on salads, on soups, on cookies with maple buttercream frosting, on soft chewy caramels, on eggs, sprinkle on roasted Brussels sprouts or butternut squash, or take your s’mores or caramel corn a whole new level with this stuff.