Homemade Citrus Salt
While the winter garden may already be on its way out, we can always count on citrus trees –like lemon trees, orange trees, grapefruits, mandarins, and limes– to bear the most beautiful bounties this time of the year. It is summer and they are everywhere, and gloriously so, waiting to be juiced, handfuls of mandarins for easy snacking, and little limes to accompany homemade tacos.
Citrus gets a lot of use in our kitchen, from zesting and juicing to marinating and brining. Sometimes we do all of that at once; we zest the fruit before we juice it, then use the juice for a marinade or brine. With any leftover zest that does not go into the meal, make a citrus salt — a flaky finishing salt infused with citrus zest.
It is marvelous how a spoonful of zest can elevate something as simple as salt — typically used for rubbing or seasoning — into a fine finishing salt. Sprinkled over peas and beans, it livens up that subtle taste of spring. On top of roasted beets and carrots, it adds crunch and kick to those earthy flavors.
How about orange salt on homemade salted caramels? Or lemon salt on thick-cut slices of heirloom tomatoes? Or lime salt to line a roasting pan for fish? Or grapefruit salt to rim the glass of a summer drink? You can even make blended citrus salts, perhaps a citron-tangerine, to finish a plate of grilled asparagus or dry rub a slab of steak.
In this recipe, use any coarse salt. Try it with Maldon sea salt, Himalayan pink salt, or another flaky finishing salt if that is what you have.
HOMEMADE CITRUS SALT
(Makes ¼ cup)
In a small bowl, combine ¼ cup coarse salt and ½ tbsp citrus zest. Reach in there and really squeeze and stir it up well with your fingers; this serves to not only release all the fragrant oils from the zest, but also separate clumps of wet zest so they are dispersed more evenly in the salt. Spread the citrus salt across a shallow dish or baking sheet. Let it air dry for at least eight hours, or overnight. The zest should feel flaky and crumbly between your fingers when it is fully dried.
If you are making a few different kinds of citrus salt, you can spread them across a baking sheet on individual sheets of parchment. The parchment will make it easier to scoop all the salt off afterward. To bottle it up right away, you can speed up the drying process by heating the citrus salt in a 100°C oven for about an hour.
Citrus salt will keep for a few months at room temperature. Storage in an airtight container will prolong shelf life. The zest may fade in color over time, but it would not affect the taste.