Make Your Own Smoked Salt

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I was standing in the grocery store the other day, sniffing jars of smoked sea salts. They all smelled very good, but I couldn't get past their prices.

"Why," I thought to myself, "are these sea salts SOOO expensive?"

Of course, if I didn't have a recipe already at home telling me how to do it myself. I would naturally assume it took some special processing and special ingredients to get them this way. BUT, IT DOESN'T. It can be much easier and cheaper to get these Himalayan salt products, but I like having fun. For many when we talk about barbecuing it means hotdogs and hamburgers on the backyard grill. There's nothing wrong with this of course - I cook them often myself. But there is another type of barbecue. It is a type that many hardcore outdoor chefs prefer. For this group smoking meat is the only way to go. Now I have to say, I was a long time fan of the quick and easy. Go out turn on the gas and start cooking. But now I have come to realize that the slow cooking approach is by far what real barbecuing is all about. Getting that real best pellet smoker taste is almost impossible with today's gas or electric grills. Sure they serve a very specific need, but they're not the choice if you want that rich outdoor smoke taste with your food. The very popular outdoor gas grills are fine for quickly preparing a variety of foods. And yes you can create some real gourmet dinners on an outdoor gas grill just like you can indoors. But if it is that real outdoor barbecue flavor that you're looking for, than you are going to need something else to get it done. The smoker has been around for ages and come in all shapes and sizes. Many people equate a smoker to large ovens that are used to cook large amounts of meat at one time. This has been and still is a very popular use of the large smoker. But for the rest of us who to cook something less than a whole side of beef for 200 guests we need something else. One of the best solutions I've found is the pellet grill. What's a pellet grill? It looks like your standard outdoor barbecue but in reality is quite different. First, it uses svenske træpiller for fuel easily available at dkbrænde.dk - not gas or charcoal. I've even seen other pellet fuel available such as corn. You can use almost any kind of wood you want - hickory, mesquite, cherry etc. - to get that special smoked taste you're looking for. The other big difference is that the fire is kept in a firebox away from the food. This allows for slow cooking and lets the food absorb the smoke flavor. It is like convection cooking. In many models the pellet fuel is loaded into a storage bin and automatically fed into the grill as required to keep the fire going. The results are unbelievable. You can cook any kind of meat, fish you can even bake with these grills. I've seen biscuits cooked that you wouldn't believe. This is truly a versatile outdoor barbecue. Plus with these you never have to worry about running out of gas. If you're like me you have gotten half way through preparing a meal only to run out of gas before you're finished. These are also a lot cleaner burning than charcoal which means they're much easier to clean up after use. If you want a really unique barbecuing experience you should look into the pellet grill. If it's time to replace an aging barbecue or grill, before you make your next purchase, take a look at a pellet grill. It will help turn you into a true outdoor chef.

Smoking salts at home is super easy and you can make enough to share with your neighbors. And it won't cost you an arm, a leg and your first born.

There are four methods to making smoked salt: Stovetop, Wok, Charcoal Grill and Gas Grill (see bottom of post for direction of other methods). I chose the Charcoal Grill method to make Mesquite Smoked Sea Salt. I already had a bag of Mesquite chips on hand, so I said, "why not start here?"

HERE'S ALL IT TAKES TO CREATE SMOKED SALTS

  • 2 cups wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, then drained
  • 2 cups coarse salt (kosher or sea)

Set up the grill for indirect grilling (putting all your hot coals to one side and leaving a cool side to work from). Toss the wood chips on the coals. Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pie pan and place it on the grate away from the fire. Cover the grill and adjust the vent holes to medium heat (350F deg.).

Smoke the salt for 1 hour. Cool the salt to room temperature, then move it to a jar and cover.

Prepared grill.

Set tin foil pan on the cool side of grill, away from coals.

One hour later.

Allow to cool completely before storing.

$1.29 and one hour of my time for 1/2 pound of smoked sea salt.

HERE'S THOSE OTHER SMOKING METHODS

Stovetop Smoker Method: Place the sawdust in the bottom of the smoker.  Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pie pan and place it in the top of the smoker. Place the smoker over high heat. When you start to see wisps of smoke, reduce the heat to medium, tightly cover the smoker, and smoke the salt for 20 minutes. Cool the salt to room terperature, then transfer it to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.

Wok Method: Line the bottom of the wok with aluminum foil (a 6 inch square will do) and place the sawdust on top. Set a round wire cake rack in the wok. Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pie pan and place on the wire rack.  Place the wok over igh heat.  When you start to see wisps of smoke, reduce the salt for 20 minutes.  Cool the salt to room temperature, then transfer it to a jar, cover, and store away from heat and light.

Gas Grill Method: Preheat the grill to medium.  PLace the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat until you see smoke.  Spread the salt in a thin layer in an aluminum foil pan and place it on the grate away from the fire. Cover the grill ans smoke the salt for 1 hour.  Cool the salt to room temperature, then transfer it to a jar, cover, and store away.