Making herbal sugars and salts

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Salt and sugar add flavor to our food.

So do herbs.

But imagine what they could combined as one!

Herbalist Sherri McCalla is here to spice up our spice rack!

For YouTube Link



Herbal Syrup

Herbal syrups are wonderful flavor essences that can be added in place of liquids in cakes,

pie fillings, and all types of baked goods. Brushing lemon verbena syrup on top of warm

lemon poppy seed muffins or a pound cake will intensify their aromas. Try them on fruits and

fruit salads, use in beverages and to make sorbets

Yield 2 cups


11/2 cups water

11/2 cups raw, organic sugar or cane sugar

(Note: Raw sugar will cause the syrup to be more golden brown than cane sugar.

Honey or maple syrup can be used, but will alter the flavor of the syrup and may have a

dominating flavor. Stevia leaves can be infused with the other herbs, but will not thicken

like sugar, the result is like a thin tea.)

About 8-10 herb sprigs or a large handful of leaves


  • Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan
  • Place over moderate heat and bring to a boil
  • Stir to dissolve sugar
  • Remove from heat and add the herb leaves, bruising them gently against the side of the pan with a spoon
  • Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes or to room temperature
  • Remove the leaves, squeezing them to extract all of the herbal essence into the syrup
  • Pour into a clean bottle or canning jar and label them

The resulting syrup will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days, in freezer for 8 — 9 months, or until the next harvest season.

Amounts of herbs and herb flowers used will vary and depend on the flavor of each individual herb; the list below is for sprigs about 4 or 5 inches long.

  • Anise hyssop-6 to 8 sprigs with flowers, or a handful of flowers
  • Basil-6 to 8 sprigs of anise, cinnamon, green, or lemon basil
  • Bay-10 to 12 leaves
  • Lavender-10 flower spikes or 1 tablespoon flowers
  • Lemon balm, lemon thyme, or lemon verbena-8 to 10 sprigs
  • Mint-10 to 12 sprigs of orange mint, peppermint, or spearmint
  • Rosemary-5 or 6 sprigs
  • Sage-4 common sage sprigs; 6 fruit-scented or pineapple sage sprigs
  • Scented geraniums-12 to 15 leaves
  • Tarragon or Mexican Mint Marigold-6 to 8 sprigs
  • Vanilla-1 bean, halved and split lengthwise
  • Herb seeds—about 1 tablespoon bruised anise, coriander, or fennel seeds (slightly green are best)


Moroccan Mint Tea

Yield: 6 small glasses


1 heaping tablespoon green tea (one with a good strong flavor)

Spearmint sprigs (about 20)

1/41/2 cup sugar

Boiling water


  • Rinse a teapot with boiling water and pour the water out
  • Add the green tea and enough spearmint to loosely fill the pot about 1/4 full
  • Add at least 1/4 cup sugar and fill the pot with boiling water
  • Steep 5 minutes

Add 2 or 3 mint sprigs to each glass and pour the tea

From The Vegetable Gardener, Susan Belsinger

Infused sugar with dried herbs

Infused sugar begins with organic white sugar and a dried herb or spice. It’s important not to let moisture get into the mixture, to avoid clumping the sugar. Combine them in an airtight container in approximately a 2:1 ratio of sugar to spice or herb. After about 2 weeks, the sugar will be infused, and it will keep well for at least 3 months. White sugar is the most basic and does not add flavor itself. To experiment with different flavors, you can use natural cane sugar, brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc. Mint and vanilla are obvious sugar flavoring choices, but consider cayenne, cardamom, and other spices to customize your infusions. This product

MintOthers, like cayenne, can be fun and surprising. Keep giftees in mind when choosing an infusion—are they adventurous in the kitchen, or would they just prefer a sweet treat? It’s also extra-special if the herbs come from a backyard garden.


Store in any clean, airtight jar to allow the sugar to infuse and stay fresh. Just be sure to

sanitize and completely dry the jars before infusing.

Larger infusions should be sifted out before consuming. But any herb or spice that is small enough to go through a sieve is fine to leave in for cooking.


Consider using Lavender, Dried rosebuds, Cayenne, Vanilla beans, Cinnamon chips,

Orange peel, or Mint for flavoring sugars.

Infused sugars may be used to;

  • Sprinkle on sugar cookies.
  • Rim a cocktail glass.
  • Sweeten coffee or tea.
  • Top crème Brule and caramelize.
  • Sprinkle on fresh fruit.
  • Add to French toast egg dip.
  • Fold into cookie, muffin, cupcake, or bread batter.


Infused sugar with fresh herbs

Rosemary Sugar


3-4 sprigs fresh rosemary

1 cup granulated sugar


Strip leaves from rosemary sprigs and chop well. Pulse in food processor with half of the sugar. Add remaining sugar and pulse several times. Spread sugar on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let dry (can take a day or so). Store in an airtight container. Add to tea, use in place of plain sugar to sprinkle on shortbread cookies, rim glasses of lemonade, or sprinkle on baked apples or pears.

Sherri’s Strawberry, Black Pepper and Basil Sugar

¼ cup freeze dried strawberries, 9 peppercorns, 1/8 cup packed sweet basil leaves,

2 Tablespoons organic sugar

Pulse until coarse. Spread on parchment paper – dry in low heat oven.

Butterfly Food

Matthew Tekulsky, author of “The Butterfly Garden” (Harvard Common Press, 1985),

recommends this formula for feeding butterflies.


1 pound sugar

1 or 2 cans stale beer

3 mashed overripe banana

1 cup of molasses or syrup

1 cup of fruit juice

1 shot of rum


Mix well , then paint on trees, fence posts, rocks, or stumps — or soak a sponge in the

mixture and hang it from a tree limb.

Macerated Berries

Macerated berries make a quick no-cook dessert topping that is simple and versatile. To make: sprinkle berries with chopped fresh herbs, then stir in a teaspoon of sugar and a squeeze of lemon for every cup of sliced berries. Let sit for 30 minutes. Serve alone, with ice cream or whipped cream, on top of cakes, bread pudding, oatmeal, etc.

Oniony-garlicky fingers?

Rub your fingers with a salt and vinegar combo.


Basil Salt

Pulse 1/2 cup kosher salt and 1/2 cup packed basil leaves in a food processor, then spread on

a baking sheet and bake at 225 degrees F until dry, 30 to 40 minutes, tossing halfway


through. Let cool and pulse again to make a fine powder. Serve it with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella at a cookout, or package it to give to friends and neighbors.

The Splendid Tables’ Fragrant Tuscan Herb Salt


  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Scant 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • About 2 cups loosely-packed, pungent fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme,

savory, or small amounts of lavender

  • (For Tuscan herb salt use a mix of fresh rosemary and sage leaves, 50/50 or whatever balance you prefer)

Food Processor Method

Cut each garlic clove lengthwise through the center, remove the sprout (if any) in the center and discard.

In the work bowl of a food processor, combine the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the salt. Pulse until the garlic is chopped medium-coarse. Add the herbs and continue pulsing until the mixture is the texture of very coarse sand. Transfer to a sheet pan and toss with the remaining salt.

Leave near an open window for a couple of days to dry. Store in clean, dry jars. Hand-Chopped Method

Cut each garlic clove lengthwise through the center, remove the sprout (if any) in the center and discard.

Mound the salt and garlic on a cutting board. Use a chef’s knife to mince the garlic, blending it with the salt as you work.

Place herbs in a mound and coarsely chop them. Add the herbs to the garlic salt and chop them together to the texture of coarse sand.

Spread the salt on a baking sheet or in wide flat bowls and leave near an open window for a couple of days to dry. Store in clean, dry jars.


Rosemary & Lemon Salt Scrub

1 1/2 cups salt*

4 tablespoons of olive oil

Juice of 1-2 lemons
Zest of one lemon

2 sprigs of rosemary


*Let’s start with salt. There are many different kinds of salt out there with various healing properties to them. For this recipe I recommend Epsom Salt or Magnesium Salt for the great health benefits of helping muscle and nerve function and reducing inflammation in the body. If you don’t have those lying around, rock salt or sea salt can substitute just fine.

To start the recipe off, add salt to a large bowl and mix in the zest of one and the juice of two lemons and stir through.

Next up add 4 tablespoons of olive oil (more or less to suit you needs for moisture vs. abrasion) and mix thoroughly. Let it sit while you finely chop your rosemary leaves and combine all ingredients together into a ½ litre glass jar.


This rosemary and lemon salt scrub is amazing for your skin. Lemon fresh and full of vitamin C — which some also say can help to lighten dark spots on the skin. The olive olive oil has amazing benefits as well including being an anti-inflammatory, helping conditions like dermatitis and eczema, and helps with the elasticity of our skin layer working on things like stretch marks and scars. As for the rosemary, her role as an herb can help heal skin conditions and arthritis pain while the scent is invigorating to the mind… and we all know that exfoliation with a body scrub lets your skin simply glow.  Salt and sugar scrubs are one of easiest home treatments that truly deliver. Not only is slathering sugar and oil all over your body wickedly pleasant, but the exfoliating factor leaves skin refreshed, vibrant, and baby soft.

Homemade lemon and thyme salt scrub

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups scrub

Prep time: 5 minutes


1 cup kosher salt

½ cup pure organic almond oil

Zest of one lemon

2 teaspoons fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stems


Pour the salt into a clean, sterilized container with a tight-fitting lid.

Add the lemon zest and thyme.

Pour the almond oil over top and screw the lid on tightly.

To use, just give the jar a stir to mix the oil and salt together, and scrub away in the shower!

The scrub will keep for up to 6 months stored in an airtight container at room temperature.


Sherri’s Cilantro, Lime, Jalapeno Salt

1/8 cup salt, 1/8 c fresh cilantro, zest of 1 lime, dried, 1/4 of a jalapeno, dried

Pulse all in food processor. Refrigerate. Use!


Heat sink

Keep a box of salt near your stove and oven, and if a grease fire flares up, douse the flames with salt — water will splatter the grease and spread the fire. When salt is applied to fire, it acts like a heat sink and dissipates the heat from the fire — it also forms an oxygen-excluding crust to smother the fire.

Clean brass or copper

Mix equal parts of salt, flour, and vinegar to make a paste, and rub the paste on the metal.

After letting it sit for an hour, clean with a soft cloth or brush and buff with a dry cloth.


Egg check

Put two teaspoons of salt in a cup of water and place an egg in it — a fresh egg will sink, an older egg will float. Because the air cell in an egg increases as it ages, an older egg is more buoyant. This doesn’t mean a floating egg is rotten, just more mature. Crack the egg into a bowl and examine it for any funky odor or appearance — if it’s rotten, your nose will tell you. (Bonus fact: if you have hard-boiled eggs that are difficult to peel, that means they are fresh!)

Sweet Greyhound Drink (serves one)

2 ounces gin or vodka

4 ounces grapefruit juice

Grapefruit for garnish

Mint Sugar for rimming glass (recipe follows)

Pour a small amount of the mint sugar mixture onto a saucer. Rub a section of grapefruit to rub around the rim of the glass. Turn glass over, place rim into sugar mixture. Set rimmed glass upright, then fill with ice. Pour alcohol of choice into glass, then add juice.

This same drink made with a rim of salt (and mint recipe follows) becomes a Salty Dog. Can make this a 1:1 ratio, or even a 1:3 ratio — use the one you like best. The above recipe is a 1:2 ratio. Ginger Ale or fizzy water can be added to make a refreshing punch like beverage.

Mint Sugar

½ cup mint, packed, leaves are best

1/2 cup sugar of your choice

Place in a food processor. Chop until sugar becomes nicely green and pesto-like. Or, conversely, you can hand chop and mix the sugar, leaving the sugar granules intact and more coarse.

Mint Salt

¼ cup mint, packed, leaves are best

1 Tablespoon salt of your choice

Place in a food processor. Chop until herbs and salt are a coarse blend.


Sherri’s favorite herb reference books:

The Encyclopedia of Herbs: A Complete Reference to Herbs of Flavor and Fragrance,

by Arthur 0. Tucker and Thomas Debaggio

The Culinary Herbal: Growing & Preserving 97 Flavorful Herbs by Susan Belsinger and

Dr. Arthur Tucker

Rodale’s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs

Next Work Study:

July 8. Herbal Work Study: Preserving Your Herbal Harvest.