Fancy Salt, We Exalt
Finishing salts by Confituras
Wed.-Fri., 7am-2pm; Sat., 8am-2pm
Even though I am a big fan of Confituras' small-batch jams and jellies, I passed up their finishing salts for nearly a year before I finally tried them. I simply figured that I already had fancy salt in my kitchen, and I didn't need any more. Then, a friend shared some of their Cowgirl Salt with me, pouring a good bit out of her jar for me to try at home. I used it that night on a salad and was so blown away that I have been using it on virtually everything I cook ever since.
By my estimation, a pinch of Confituras' finishing salt makes one's food taste roughly twice as good; a significant improvement to say the least. How can anything make that big of a difference? What makes them so special?
To begin with, all of Confituras finishing salts are made with Texas sea salt mined near Galveston Bay. "I get the strangest looks when I tell people they are made with Texas sea salt," says Stephanie McClenny, owner of Confituras. "But the salt isn't made from evaporated Gulf seawater. It is harvested from heavily protected mines. The salt itself dates back to the Jurassic era, and it is the most beautiful color – the crystals are a light lavender gray." McClenny blends this very pure salt with organic flavorings, such as lemon zest, herbs, and peppers. Flavors include Lime Chile, Orange Chile, Valley Lemon, Cowgirl Salt (made with lemon and pink peppercorn), and her newest flavor, Lemon Rosemary, which is debuting this weekend. "The flavorings are literally picked and added just days before the salts are sold, and they are so fresh," says McClenny. "It really makes a difference."
The 4-ounce jars last a long time, even with frequent use, because only a pinch or two is needed to wake up most dishes. The crystals are coarse; if you prefer your salt more finely ground, they can be run through a regular salt or pepper mill.
Ever since the first day McClenny offered them, these finishing salts have been flying off her tables at area farmers' markets. "People often ask me if I have anything that isn't made with sugar," she explains. "They are really appreciative that I have the salts." Because they are made seasonally, the flavors switch out during the course of the year, which also stimulates sales. "People are usually so happy to see their favorites come back. I just recently started getting this year's Rio Grande Valley lemons!"
All the flavors are $7 for a 4-ounce jar, or $25 for a gift pack of four flavors. If there are foodies on your list who seem to already have every kitchen accoutrement conceivable, Confituras finishing salts might be the inspired gift that genuinely pleases. They can be purchased at the Confituras table every Saturday morning at the Downtown and Sunset Valley farmers' markets, on Sundays at the Mueller and HOPE farmers' markets, and online at www.confituras.net.