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During this period of the covid-19 pandemic, I have begun ordering and purchasing produce from a local distributor. They have great prices and nice produce and I was even able to get yeast from them! One day recently, I ordered a bag of cilantro. It didn't sound like very much according to the weight of the bag. But, cilantro is very light apparently and the bag of cilantro that I got was HUGE! Knowing how quickly cilantro will wilt and get slimy, I tried to see if my daughters or son needed any. They all refused it, saying they had just purchased some! I started using it in salsa and every recipe possible, but I barely made a dent in that giant bag.
Fast Forward to my grandsons outdoor, socially safe birthday, where I sat having a conversation with Anita and her DL Julia, each 6 feet away from me, and I tell them about my cilantro dilemma! Julia, an excellent cook and baker, suggested that I could put the cilantro in olive oil and freeze it in ice cube trays! Then, when I don't have fresh cilantro in the house, I can just pop a cube of the frozen stuff in my recipe and it will still taste fresh! So, after I got home, I started looking things up about freezing herbs online. Isn't it amazing how many different methods you can find on there? I looked things over, and this is what I did:
I had one spare ice cube try to use to freeze my cilantro! In a food processor or blender, put 5 cups of fresh cilantro, stems and all and 3/4 cups of vegetable oil. If your blender won't hold that much, you will have to chop it in batches. PULSE the blender or food processor until the cilantro is chopped up and covered with the oil. I didn't want it to be a smooth cilantro puree, but to have leaves and bits of stem still showing. Then, I put about a tablespoon of the oily cilantro into each slot of the ice cube tray. I covered it with plastic wrap and put it in the freezer. The beauty of this method is that when it is completely frozen, you can pop out the cubes and store them in the freezer in a plastic bag and then reuse the ice cube tray for something else!
Now, after using 5 cups of cilantro for that freezing project, you would think my problem would have been solved, right? No way, I still had half of the cilantro left! Well, while I had been looking up ways of freezing my cilantro, I remembered noticing herbal salts. Cue binging light bulb! I began with the obvious, Cilantro-Lime Salt. OH MY GOODNESS! THESE SALTS ARE SO EASY TO MAKE AND SO TASTY! I believe I have found this year's Christmas gifts! The possibilities are endless! I am going to give you 3 Cilantro Salt variations. Under each initial photo I will give you ideas for their use and how I have tried them so far. I think a set of 3 types of salts would make a great gift, or use other herbs to make salts, such as basil or thyme from your garden and give a variety of different salts in that way! I used little Rubbermaid or Zip Lock containers to store them, or you could use shakers or canning jars. I also designed labels that I am sharing with you to keep track of what is what and to give them a cute look.
In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together thoroughly. Then spread them on a sheet pan that has sides.
Place the pan, uncovered, into your oven set at its lowest heat setting. Leave it there for an hour or two until the cilantro and zest are completely dry. At this point you can start gathering the salt into the center of the pan, crumbling the big pieces of cilantro as you go.
This recipe filled 2 Rubbermaid 4 ounce containers as pictured. Then, I used Avery Address Labels #8160 to print little labels for my salts. Click the button for the PDF to print your own!
When I made the label for this one, I mixed up the onion and the garlic description on it, but you get the idea of why it is called CROG. This salt makes a great rub for any type of meat! I used it on salmon and it was fantastic. A little goes a long way to bring great flavor! I think on a beef roast it will be divine. I am trying that next. It would also be great on vegetables and in rice.
CROG Salt- A savory blend of Cilantro, Rosemary, Onion and Garlic
3/4 c. loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 bunch finely chopped green onions, green part only
6 cloves finely chopped garlic
4 long sprigs of fresh rosemary, off the stem and chopped
1 c. coarse kosher salt
Blend all together in a bowl as before and spread on a sheet pan. Because there are wetter ingredients in this recipe, it will take about 4 hours to dry well in the oven at the lowest setting. When finished, crush up the larger chunks into the mix. The tiny dry onion pieces will burst into powder! I may have had a little too much fun with that.
I was able to get almost 3 containers of savory CROG from this recipe.
1 c. chopped cilantro, loosely packed
6 slices of crispy cooked bacon, crumbled. Cut off any fatty, not crispy parts. If possible, lower salt would be great.
3/4 c. coarse kosher salt.
Like the other recipes, blend all of the ingredients together and spread them on a sheet pan. Dry in your oven with it set on the lowest setting. It took mine 3 to 4 hours to dry completely.
Scrap everything together on the pan, crumbling even smaller as you do so.
This recipe filled 2 containers.
The measurement of the ingredients is somewhat loose, and you can adjust them as you wish as you make yours. After making these recipes, I was able to bring down the amount of cilantro that I had to a manageable level. If you grow your own herbs or if you have access to a large amount of them like I do from a produce supplier, just think of the possibilities of making gifts this year! It was quick and easy with a great result. Now my mind is racing with other flavor combinations. Also, which containers did you like better? What other flavor combinations do you think would work well? Let me know in the comments!
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!