Smoked salt has so many uses in cooking and preserving that although it is not strictly a preserve I have to add it here on preserve and pickle. I have used smoked salt in a lot of my recipes, especially vegan meat or seitan recipes simply because it adds a layer of complex flavours in a way that is not possible otherwise.
The great thing is smoked salt is really easy to make and just needs a few pieces of equipment. You will be able to smoke big batches of salt at once that should last you all year. Better yet, making smoked salt yourself is a lot cheaper than buying it and you can tailor just how much smoke you are adding to the salt by adjusting your smoking times.
What Is The Best Type Of Salt To Smoke?
Smoking something like salt that has a hard, granular texture is not quite the same as smoking something like a piece of bacon. The smoke doesn’t penetrate into the salt, it adheres to the surface.
You can smoke any type of salt you like, they will all develop a smoked flavour given enough time in the smoker but I have found my best results have been with salt flakes or larger grained salt.
Flaked salt has a large surface area and lots of tiny nooks and crannies that are perfect for smoke to adhere to. I have found that any time I want to use smoked salt, flakes have been top of the list as they are what I am using to finish the dish and look more aesthetically pleasing.
That is not to say you cannot smoke table salt, kosher salt or any other if you want, I just have had good results with smoked salt flakes.
Hot Smoke Or Cold Smoke?
There is, of course, no need to cook the salt when you are smoking it so whether you hot smoke or cold smoke the salt is up to you. The main thing is to make sure the salt is dry when you are smoking it. Salt will want to absorb moisture either from the air or from steam which will cause it to dissolve and clump.
I set up a cold smoke generator in my barbecue smoker and have mainly used this so smoke salt. If you do not have a cold smoke generator then you can set up an indirect grill to smoke your salt. I would probably avoid direct grilling of the salt.
How To Setup Your Salt For Smoking
The key thing to achieve when laying out your salt is to have the maximum amount of surface area exposed to the some.
I use disposable trays and sprinkle the salt in layers a few millimeters thick. The smoke will not necessarily get to the salt at the bottom of the tray but raking it over and moving it around every hour or so will ensure you get an evenly smoked salt.
Once the salt is exposed to the smoke long enough and thoroughly mixed the smokiness should become more consistent throughout the tray.
How Long To Smoke Salt For?
This is ultimately up to you, if you like big, bold smokiness then the longer the better. With a cold smoker I can smoke up to 6 hours or more with only a small amount of fuel and this produces a great all round smoky flavour without being overwhelming to me.
You can smoke your salt for an hour or up to 10 hours or more. I find that testing as you go along to be the easiest way to measure how far along the smokiness is coming. The colour should darken the smokier you get the salt.
How I Smoke My Salt
I use a cold smoke generator to smoke my salt, it doesn’t require a lot of fuel and can smoke for around 10 hours on just a small amount of sawdust. If you haven’t got a cold smoke generator I highly recommend them.
1. To start I setup my smoker BBQ with the cold smoke generator in the bottom. If you are going to hot smoke your salt then setup the smoker for indirect heat smoking.
2. Spread the salt out on a tray or multiple trays in a thin layer. A fine mesh that would allow smoke through but not the salt to fall through would be good here. A regular tray still does the job fine however.
3. Light the cold smoke generator or the fuel for hot smoking and set the tray or multiple trays in the smoker above. Close the lid and allow the smoker to do its thing for an hour or so.
4. After an hour move around the salt around and redistribute it so you get an even smoke all over the surface of the salt. Do this every hour or so whilst smoking.
5. Once you have smoked the salt to a level of your choosing, remove from the smoker. Allow to cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.
The smoked salt will be ready to use immediately. It is entirely up to you what to do with it, I have yet to find a use that I didn’t like. One of my favourite uses is to add some to some Mac n Cheese. The smokiness with the soft cheesey sauce takes it to a whole new level.