When you want to bring the smoky flavor of the outdoors to your food, smoked spices may be the way to go. Usually found in gourmet spice sections of stores, smoked spices can be quite costly. You can smoke your own spices including smoked sea salt, black pepper and paprika to add to barbecue made in your oven, barbecue sauces, rubs for meats and fish or in any recipe calling for the regular spices. Smoking your own spices will save you money and may inspire you to create a wider range of recipes than before.
Cut a piece of non-galvanized metal window screen into a 16-inch circle, and then place the circle over your grill grate. This circle acts as a spice screen, which allows smoke to flow through your chosen spices. Weigh down the screen circle by wrapping a strong piece of wire along the screen’s edges, pressing the edges around the screen.
Start a small fire in your smoker according to your smoker’s manufacturer’s instructions and place seven charcoal briquettes inside.
Add two small pieces of your chosen wood when you have a fire burning, then fill a water pan with water, putting it alongside the fire.
Close the smoker lid until you see the chamber filled with smoke.
Pour a 1/2 inch deep layer of your chosen spice onto the screen circle and place the screen on top of the grill rack positioned away from the fire.
Maintain a smoker temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit by feeding the fire with gray charcoal that is ready to use rather than hot or cold charcoal. If you have an electric smoker, turn it off when it reaches 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and then turn it on when it drops to 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Smoke your spices for 5 to 12 hours. Twelve hours of smoking in most smokers produce spices with a rich, brown color. For instance, sea salt will turn a yellowish-brown when ready to use. Smoke up to 24 hours in cold smoker types.
Store your smoked spice in airtight containers.
Sea Salt Stove Top Method
Place 1 cup of hickory chips into a heap in the middle of a pan, and turn the stove temperature to the “High” setting.
Light the hickory chips using matches and let them burn until they turn black in color, then turn the heat to the “Low” setting.
Use aluminum foil to line a perforated pan. Perforated pans have small holes allowing smoke to come through. Sprinkle sea salt in the lined pan evenly.
Put the lined, perforated pan on top of the hickory chips, then place a cover over the pan.
Set the temperature to the “Low” setting and smoke the sea salt for 15 minutes. Allow black pepper to smoke for four to six minutes.
Store your sea salt or black pepper in air-tight containers.
Purchase metal window screens at hardware stores where you will find them sold in rolls.
Buy inexpensive sea salt to smoke, usually located on the bottom shelf in the spice location of grocery stores. Find sea salt also at cosmetic stores and online.
Give your smoked spices away as gifts.
References and Resources"She-Smoke: A Backyard Barbecue Book"; Julie Reinhardt; 2009
"Bistro Laurent Tourondel: New American Bistro Cooking"; Laurent Tourondel, et al.; 2007