It’s the first of February and that means it’s time to take on the second project in the Food in Jars Mastery Challenge. This month is all about salt preserving. For the purposes of this challenge, we’re going to focus on dry brining or curing. Think salt preserved citrus, salt preserved herbs (herbes salees), gravlax, cured egg yolks, sauerkraut, infused salts, and kimchi. We’re going to stay away from meat and wet-brined ferments.
Remember that the goal of this challenge is to help you expand your skills while creating something that you’ll actually use. So choose a project or recipe that will satisfy both your own learning and help you make something delicious.
You don’t have to choose one of these recipes, but there’s some good stuff here. Feel free to use one or use them as a jumping off point for your own research and exploration.
Salt preserved lemons – This is an easy starting point. I make at least one batch of these every year. They add a tangy, funky bite to soups and stews. I often heap a bunch of them in the blender and puree them smooth. I dollop that puree into hummus, vinaigrettes, and other creamy spreads.
Salt preserved key limes – Some readers argued whether the fruit I used were in this project were actually key limes, but that’s what the bag said. They’re zippy and bright and worth the making.
Citrus salt – Another really simple one. Zest a bunch of lemons, limes, grapefruits, or oranges and combine them with chunky salt. Spread it out on plate or parchment-lined cookie sheet and let it air dry. Then sprinkle it over chicken, fish, dips, and roasted vegetables.
Herb salt – A variation on the citrus salt above, this expansive, wide-ranging recipe is flexible and adaptable.
Herbes salees – There’s a version of this recipe in my second book, but I learned everything I know about salt preserved herbs from Joel and Dana at Well Preserved. And so if their post was a good starting place for me, it’s a good starting place for you!
Gravlax – Quick cured and seasoned salmon that takes a few minutes to prep and just a couple days in the fridge to get good. It’s a low effort, high reward project and just the thing to make if you’re planning a dinner party or fancy brunch.
Cured egg yolks – I’ve not made these before, so I point you in the direction of Hank Shaw for instructions here. From what I hear, this relatively quick cure produces something with the flavor and depth of good cheese.
Kraut – There’s so many directions to go here. Start with a recipe that appeals and begin to explore.
Kimchi – This is my favorite approach, but it just one of many. If you decide to go in this direction, do try to stay away from the brined recipes and stick to the ones that are salted directly, as we’ll focus on wet brined foods later in the year.
Soup base – I almost always have a jar of this vegetable-heavy paste in my fridge for giving depth to soups and stews.
As always, I’ll spend the next month posting recipes and troubleshooting guides focused on this month’s topic. Alex will also have a post that will feature her project. More soon!
What to do if you can’t have salt!
I’ve had a couple people reach out with health conditions that require they avoid salt to ask about how they might participate in this month’s challenge without actually using salt. If you find yourself in this camp, I suggest you take a look at the herb salt link above. You could make a dried herb and citrus zest blend. Or perhaps a salt-free version of homemade furikake (a Japanese seasoning blend that traditionally includes toasted sesame seeds, crumbled nori and bonito flakes).
Look for projects that are in the spirit of the challenge and expand your skills. That’s what I’m looking for!