Go To Seasoned Salt

Everybody has a go-to seasoning or two in their kitchen. My Sis, Ann Lovejoy, is a great finder and sharer of such things. The back of our stove is where our collection lies. There, you’ll find a couple of ground chiles, naturally – our homegrown Texas Tabascos and a smoked blend. There are three different peppers, a four berry blend (red, white, green, and black), Grains of Paradise, and smoked black. Far and away, the most common thing you’ll find are salts. There are two Annie found, from a cottage maker in Oregon, a fennel flower, and a basil variety. There’s also flaked, and kosher, Himalayan pink, house made celery, and our own take on Jane’s Krazy Salt.

Jane's Original Krazy Salt
There really was a Jane behind this cottage industry turned international food producer. Jane Semans, a “tiny white-haired, delightfully wacky grandmother,” mixed seasoning blends in her Overbrook, Pennsylvania kitchen, and began sharing the goods with friends and neighbors. In 1962, she trademarked Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt, and the rest is history.
The company that bears her name now makes a myriad of seasoning blends that sell well all over the world. I like supporting good companies, and we’ve done so with Jane’s for years. Her Krazy salt has been our go-to blend, used every day, from breakfast through dinner. Why is it that salt, in some form, is far and away the most used seasoning?
Calcium Chloride, AKA, table salt, does far more than simply make food taste salty. Adding salt suppresses some tastes as well. It’s generally agreed that humans perceive five tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, salty, and umami. Salt acts to suppress bitter in many food combinations, making things palatable that might not be otherwise. Some have argued that salt also enhances other favors, but this is somewhat of a misnomer. Scientists who study such things have determined that salt does not chemically enhance anything – that said, it is known that adding salt reduces the activity of water within the ingredients we add it to, which allows us humans greater perception of various volatile aromatics – in other words, salt enhances by suppression, once again.

Here’s a practical example of this trait – Check out just about any jar of lemon pepper seasoning you can find – chances are good that the first ingredient in most of them is salt – that’s done not only because salt is tasty, but because lemon pepper is made with lemon peel, and if you’re not über careful about harvesting peel and not pith, (the yellow as opposed to the white), what you get is in fact quite bitter. Salt tames the potentially off putting bitter notes and generates a harmonious blend.
And then there are the health benefits – Yes, health benefits, of ingesting salt. Humans need water to survive, more than any other element. Salt plays a crucial role in distributing water throughout our bodies. Proper sodium content in our bods, (and potassium too), is critical to everything from digestion to brain function. Go a bit overboard, and your kidneys will excrete excess sodium for you.

On top of that little scientific aside, the profusion of natural salts for cooking available nowadays brings a wealth of trace flavor notes from the various minerals attached thereto. That is the root of why salts mixed with other things we like are so prominent on the back ledge of my stove.

What are your to-to seasonings?
As for that Jane’s, well, I like it a lot, so naturally, I poured a bunch of it into a glass bowl and poked around to see what made it tick. Once I knew what was inside, my gears started turning toward the thought of improvement. There are other analyses and recipes of Jane’s out there, for the record; I read none of them, preferring to let my eyes, fingers, and taste buds do the work. Here’s what I discovered.
Jane’s is, of course, first and foremost salt. What they use appears to me to be coarse kosher, which is perfect for herbed salt blends like this. The larger, jagged grains capture ground or crunched herbs and spices well, making for a blend that remains homogeneous in a shaker. The other ingredients are granulated garlic and onion, ground black pepper, celery salt, crushed red chiles, and sage. Knowing the proper percentages of each ingredient are of course vital to recreating a blend – you’ll see below, both what strikes us as a spot on duplicate of the real McCoy, and our preferred version.

While it might seem like plagiarism to copy such a thing, it’s really not. Sure, it’s somebody’s baby as it stands, but it’s also kinda like a guitar lick – Les Paul’s son Gene related his father’s love of all things Django Reinhardt. He tells of his father sitting at the kitchen table, practicing Django’s licks over and over again. One night, during a performance, the son heard the father unravel that lick in the middle of soloing for another song. When he asked about it afterwards, Les smiled and said, “It’s my lick now.” As a guitar player and chef, I know this to be true. It’s how things work. The fact is that the number of folks who can accurately play that lick, or dissect that recipe faithfully is relatively small. It’s a tribute, a nod, a starting point for other things – I’m sure Jane wouldn’t mind.

House made celery salt

Before we build the full meal deal, let’s address the celery salt that goes into it. You can buy this stuff, of course, but small batches of home made are far superior, and fun to make. Any herb(s), fresh or dried, can be mixed with salt to provide a nice, fresh, custom blend. How much you use depends on your preferred taste. In general, a ratio of salt to dried herb anywhere from 1:1 to 4:1 will work – that ratio depends on the potency of your herbs – for celery salt, you want quite a bit more than you would for, say, Rosemary. You’ll want to experiment a bit to determine the mix that best highlights the herb. If you’re using fresh, as with this celery salt, you’ll need to thoroughly dry the herbs before blending. Depending on what you’re using, you’ll want to prepare quite a bit more of the final volume you’re after – for the celery salt, you’ll see that I used about a lightly packed cup of fresh leaves in order to get an appropriate amount of dried.

House Made Celery Salt
1 Cup fresh Celery Leaf
1/4 Cup coarse Kosher Salt

Fresh celery leaves, ready for drying

Preheat oven to warm.
Trim celery leaves from stalks and excess stems.
Spread leaf on a dry baking sheet.
Allow leaves to dry thoroughly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool.
Hand crush leaves, then run them through a single layer mesh strainer. Discard the stuff that doesn’t make it through.
Blend leaves and salt in a small mixing bowl, transfer to a glass jar.
If the blend gets a bit sticky, gently tap the jar to loosen things up.

Dried celery leaves, ready for crushing

 

House made celery salt

Very Jane-Like Salt Blend
This is, for our taste, about as close to the original as you can get.
1/4 Cup coarse Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon granulated Garlic
2 teaspoons ground Black Pepper
2 teaspoons granulated Onion
1 teaspoon Celery Salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed Cayenne Chile
1/4 teaspoon crushed Sage

Blend all, and transfer to a glass jar for storage.

House made seasoned salt

UrbanMonique’s Wacky Salt
This is our spin on the original – peppery, smoky, and bold.
2 Tablespoons coarse Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Alderwood Smoked Salt
1 Tablespoon Four Pepper Blend, (black, white, green, red)
1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic
2 teaspoons granulated Onion
2 teaspoons Celery Salt
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground Smoked Chiles
1/2 teaspoon crushed Sage

Blend all, and transfer to a glass jar for storage.

House made seasoning salt

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