I'm not kidding when I tell you it looks like a citrus orchard shook out its limbs in my kitchen. There are sweet limes and Meyer lemons on the counter near the sink, wild limes in the corners of window sills, oblong mandarinquats and petite kalamansi oranges scattered across other flat surfaces. And then, the prize of all prizes, a massive, electric-yellow Buddha's hand (direct from a very special Southern California garden) putting off more fragrance than the rest combined. So, I set to work making a spectrum of citrus salts.
They're pretty, and provide a pop of surprise, and your friends will love you even more when you hand them little jars to take home. Mostly, I use these as finishing salts. I love the wild lime salt sprinkled over coconut milk-based curries, or as a finishing touch on spring rolls. Mandarinquat salt sprinkled over homemade sea salt caramels? Give me a minute while I add that to my to-do list. Later in the year, the clementine and Meyer lemon salts are perfect on fava beans and asparagus. Beyond that, heirloom tomatoes.
I'm going to give you my basic technique down below. You can use that as a jumping off point and go from there. A lot of what this comes down to is personal preference. You'll notice I call for flaky sea salt. For this sort of thing, I like the kind of light, flaky salt crystals you can crush between your fingertips. I use Maldon. You give this salt a good, long toss with the citrus zest and then bake the mixture dry. You can certainly leave the salt like this, but I like to give it just a few pulses in the food processor to break it down a bit. It's still light and flaky, just less so. All said, feel free to experiment with different salts. And process them powder fine if you like. I typically use about 1 tablespoon of zest to 1/2 cup of salt, but you might want to increase or decrease the amount of zest. Again, play around. Make blends. Take notes related to which ones you like, and how you're using them.
One other note. You'll only use the zest here. But you don't want all that amazing juice to go to waste, so zest the citrus first, then juice it as well. You can freeze the individual juices for later use, or, I like to make riffs on this sort of strong citrus ginger juice.
I used Maldon sea salt flakes here, but you can certainly experiment with other kinds of salt (this looks beautiful). Also, try to buy good, organic, citrus. And avoid waxed citrus. If that's what you have on hand though, just be just to give it a good scrub with warm water. Also, dry completely before zesting.
For each type of salt you'll need:
1/2 cup / 2.25 oz / 65 g flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon citrus zest
Preheat your oven to oven 225F / 105C. Combine the salt and citrus in a medium bowl and mix well. Really work the zest into the salt, making sure there aren't any clumps of zest. Spread across a parchment lined baking sheet. If you're making more than one flavor of salt, repeat this as many times as necessary. For example, this time I made 6 salts, and I arranged them across two baking sheets (see photos).
Bake for 70 minutes, or until the citrus is completely dried out. Flecks of zest should crumble when pinched between your fingers. Remove from oven and allow to cool a bit. At this point you can pulse each salt a few times in a food processor if you like, which is what I do. Or, you can enjoy it as is. Salts keep in an air-tight jar for a couple of months.
Makes 1/2 cup of finishing salt.
Prep time: 5 minutes - Cook time: 70 minutes