Wednesday, January 11, 2012

On Celery Salt

The owner of our local hot dog stand sits outside the home improvement store and complains about old people. Which makes him squarely my kind of pork purveyor. After boring of the mustard/ketchup/pickled anything routine who doesn't play the "I'm 10" game and just layer on every condiment offered? As I layered, I found something so awesome it was worth scraping off the paper the dog was wrapped in.

I demand to know why nobody has forced me to eat celery salt before! (I've also never had a Bloody Mary, so all of that is probably related.)

As making your own condiments/seasonings was all the rage in 2011 and I am always late to the pop culture party, did you know you can make your own celery salt? OF COURSE YOU DID. I'm only about the 700th faux food blogger to write about it. And for good reason.

Ingredients: Celery leaves, salt. Oh, and heat and time, but who's counting?

Step 1: Pluck off all the leaves from your celery stalks. This is a great use for those inside stalks that you could otherwise put in soup but never really get around to putting in soup. Wash and dry them. WELL. Roll them up in a tea towel then spread them out on a cookie sheet and let them dry completely.

Step 2: Let them crunch up in the lowest oven you can heat. If you were too lazy to dry the leaves properly then they will steam up and turn brown before they turn crunchy. Eventually. It takes twice as long to dry them when they're wet than when they're dry. I find it's my Yogi Berra-like articulation that really gets my point across.

Step 3: Crumble the leaves in the least messy way possible; once these are dry you don't want to waste any of the celery powder by having it stick to your fingers. Why not carefully scoop them into a plastic bag and then work the plastic bag?
Maybe don't do it when your mother-in-law is around. Unless she's that kind of mother-in-law. Then I still might not do it because then she'll want some and you'll end up without any celery for your celery salt. Which means you'd just have salt. And a weird lingering smell on your back patio.

Step 4: Mix the celery leaves with an equal amount of salt. Note: coarse salts like kosher or sea will not break down--even with a mortar and pestle--as quickly as the leaves will turn to powder. Choose your salt, then crush the leaves to match the size of the grains.
What you see here is me trying to grind kosher salt by hand to make it the same consistency as the ash-fine celery powder. This is about the only step you can go wrong on (unless you're mixing up batches of the stuff in bags and you invite the neighborhood busybody in for coffee). My beautiful jar of homemade celery salt has to be shaken each time I use it otherwise the celery powder settles to the bottom and the chunky salt just sits, dirty and green-tinged.

Dirty and green-tinged is just not the romance I want to recall. Particularly if it involves hot dogs.

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