Sometimes it can be a struggle to put a wholesome dinner on the table. While I spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen, developing traditional foods recipes for this site, I spend even more of my time in my office – hands on the keyboard, and eyes glued to the display. Work, coupled with never-ceasing family obligations like doctors appointments, play dates, and extracurriculars means that sometimes, aspire as I might for something better, I throw something in a pan for dinner and pray it turns out.
It’s on these evenings, rushed and tired, that I lean on my homemade seasoning salt to enliven otherwise tired and dull dinners, and to provide a punch of flavor quickly. Rather than relying on commercial salts, which can contain additives that I’d rather not feed my family or eat myself, I favor using something homemade, with a combination of flavors that I happen to really care for. It only takes about five minutes to pull out the salt, herbs and spices I happen to like, to whir them together in a spice grinder, and pour the resulting homemade seasoning salt into a little jar. I set it in the spice rack next to my stove, and it’s always there for me in a pinch.
Making Your Homemade Seasoning Salt
Homemade seasoning salts add a lovely, and quick, punch of flavors to dishes when used either in cooking or as a finishing salt. Pay attention to which flavors you tend to use most frequently in your day-to-day cooking, and mix together a ready made salt that’s available when you want it. In much of my day-to-day cooking and weeknight meals, I tend to favor salt, pepper, lemon, chives and parsley – particularly when flavoring light foods like chicken or fish. At other times, I gravitate toward rich and smoky flavors like chipotle chile, smoked paprika and smoked salt. Having a few jars of ready-made seasoning salt helps me to flavor those last-minute weeknight meals in an instant. Below, I’ve included my recipe for my favorite seasoning salt which includes unrefined sea salt, smoked black pepper, chives, parsley, lemon peel and a punch of dulse, a mineral-rich sea vegetable.
Making seasoning salt at home is less about cooking, and more about ratios. Good questions to ask might be which flavors you prefer, and how dominate you want those flavors to be. My friend Heather over at Mommypotamus, whips up porcini mushroom and bacon seasoning salts.
Flavoring Your Seasoning Salt
- Traditional Seasoning Salt: Salt, Sugar, Paprika, Onion and Garlic
- Lemon Pepper: Salt, Pepper, Lemon Peel
- Rosemary Garlic Salt: Salt, Rosemary, Garlic
- Celery Salt: Salt, Celery Leaves, Celery Seeds
- Smoky Ancho Chile Salt: Smoked Sea Salt, Ancho Chiles, Smoked Paprika
- Tarragon and Wild Mushroom Salt: Dried Porcini Mushrooms, Dried Chanterelle Mushrooms, Salt, Tarragon, White Pepper
How to Use Homemade Seasoning Salt
You can use homemade seasoning salts and finishing salts in similar ways. When you’re cooking, you can sprinkle some of the homemade seasoning salt into the food as it cooks. When I make my easy roast chicken, I first begin by coating the chicken with olive oil (find organic olive oil here), and then I sprinkle it generously with my favorite homemade seasoning salt (recipe below), and then I place it in the oven where it roasts until the meat is tender and the skin wonderfully crisp. Using the salt more judiciously, you might simply sprinkle a touch of seasoning salt over whatever it is you happen to serve for dinner. Perhaps sprinkling Tarragon and Wild Mushroom Salt over a homemade risotto just before serving it.
Where to Get Your Salt and Spices
I favor unrefined sea salt in my kitchen, and use mineral-rich Utah salt (find it here) for most purposes. Not only is it affordable (compared to other specialty salts), but is is particularly rich in trace minerals that contribute to the lovely speckled pink color of the salt as well as adding a small amount of minerals to my family’s diet. I also purchase both culinary and medicinal herbs in bulk online a few times a year from this company that specializes in a huge variety of organic and wildcrafted herbs and spices. If you have a good-sized herb garden, you can dry your herbs and use them to flavor your homemade seasoning salts as well.
Lemon Chive Seasoning Salt
- Pour all the ingredients into a medium-sized mixing bowl and stir until well-combined. Then, working in batches, place all ingredients into a spice grinder (Click here for the one I use.) or into a the pitcher of a high-powered blender, and process until they form a fine powder.
- Transfer the seasoning salt to a glass jar or other container, close the lid tightly, and store in a cool place for up to one year.