Herbes Salées (Salt Herb Preserve) – Recipe and How-To

We’re going to start our roundup of weekend preserving recipes (there are 19 and counting – so the rest of the month will be an abundance of how-to’s and recipes) with Herbes Salées (Salted Herbs).  This was one of the most requested items between Facebook and the comments of yesterday’s posts asking what you wanted to learn about.  It’s also one of the easiest to explain and as we recover from a long weekend in the kitchen, I’m not shy on looking for the easy way out today.


Herbes Salées are made around the world.  My influence is from the Acadians in Nova Scotia.

My Mother is from the most beautiful Cape Breton island.  It’s an amazing place that’s full of culture, nature, music, dance and tradition.  Preserving herbs with salt is a very common method and is a part of many traditional dishes in the East Coast.  You use them in the place of salt and herbs – omlettes, stuffed fish, soups, stews, sauces and beans.  They replace salt and herbs – as they are a combination of both things.

I should also introduce the controversy of this post: like so many examples of regional cuisine, there is a lot of debate on what makes this recipe ‘authentic’:

  1. One group of people insist there are certain ingredients which make herbes salees – this often includes chervil, parsley, onions, carrots and celery leaves (all in equal proportion)
  2. Others allow to freelance – use what you have to put it together.

I subscribe to school #2.  The tradition of a lot of Acadian food in my family includes a history which included poverty, class segregation and difficult living conditions.  This article from early 2010 explains a bit of perspective on the Acadians and an epiphany between understanding decaying language and our food system).

Even in my Grandmother’s lifetime she describes:

Everyone had to have a garden when I grew up.  It wasn’t a matter of choice, trend, luxury or hobby.  We needed it to survive.

So a traditional Herbes Salees within my tribe consisted of whatever herbs you had – generally at the end of the harvest (I’ve made a jar now and will likely repeat right at end of growing season here).

The generally accepted instructions for making Herbes Salees:

  1. Chop your clean and dry herbs fine (avoid using a food processor which can cause excessive bruising)
  2. Place a layer of salt in a clean, sterile jar.
  3. Place a layer of herbs.
  4. Repeat with a layer of salt.
  5. Repeat with herbs until jar is full.
  6. Close jar and put in fridge for 14 days.  I like to shake it around gently each day.
  7. After 12-14 days, drain any excess liquid.
  8. Store herbs in fridge. Will keep for weeks (and, in all likelihood much, much longer).

I alter the approach slightly.  I mix my herbs in a giant bowl, adding salt as I go.  I essentially do the same thing others do in a jar (i.e. layering) but then give the entire mix a really good toss to increase the amount of salt contact with each individual piece of herb before placing in a jar.  I place a final layer of salt on top of the final mixture.

When you jar the mixture, it will likely take far less room than when you started – I use a 2L (4 pints) mason jar that should become less than a liter when completed.

These are the herbs after 4-5 days:


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  1. THIS is a thing I am very very excited to try. Sounds a bit disgusting, frankly, but also like it must be amazing. : )

  2. I just shared this recipe with my husband and his first reaction was “why would you get rid of the liquid?” So, I pose that question to you! Have you tried using the liquid? It sounds like it could have some magical potential.

    • Trinity,

      it’s a good question. it’s one of the few things I do ‘because I was told to.’ I’ll do some experimentation with it this year – I’m going to suggest it would be very salty… Perhaps a small amount of it added to liquid for bread would be a good start. 🙂

    • Lynette, I’ve posted a photo today of the product 5 days into the process – it’s now on the post above and on our facebook group – thanks for the idea. 🙂

  3. very good use for some of my garden herbs-I dry alot, make various pestos, ect, but this will be a nice addition and aa great “convenience food”

  4. Here’s some other blends I’ve made:
    Caribbean – mix of any – allspice, nutmeg, thyme, curry, mint, basil, mace, annatto, lemon grass, cloves. Ground mustard, black/white pepper, ginger, coconut, lime, hot pepper, garlic, oregano

    Herbs de Provence
    oregano leaves, thyme leaves, basil leaves, sage leaf, savory, lavender flowers (optional), rosemary

    Fines Herbes
    Tarragon, chervil, chives, parsley

    Oregano, rosemary, marjoram, parsley, thyme, chives, garlic

    I really love having the choice of different blends in the fridge!

    • Rebecca, you are a constand source of knowledge and I love finding your comments every time. Herbs de Provence are prevelant in my kitchen (dried as well) but I didn’t know of any of the rest. Love it. Thanks. 🙂

  5. I might have missed it but what type of salt are you using (my guess is kosher?) I can’t wait to try this! I have a monster tarragon plant that I don’t use enough! Your posts are always awesome and I love to read them each day. Thanks!

  6. I’ve been trying to decide how I want to preserve my herbs. This sounds fantastic! I think I’ll try a lemon version with lemon balm, lemon thyme, and a bit of lemon basil.

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  16. what is the ratio between salt and chopped herbs ( by measure or weight?) I just picked a bunch of lavender and want to put it by in a way that WORKS for us. I have made some salted herbs and found them to be WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too salty…

  17. I have been buying Mailhot’s Salted Herbs and always wondered if I could replicate the process–especially this year as I had a bumper crop of scallions! I love using this in soups, chowders, sauces. So imagine my excitement when I found your guide here. I have a couple of photos of my process but do not know how to add them here – perhaps on your FB page. Anyway, I added kelp to mine and did not have any savory.

    But I was wondering whether you could add greens like chard, kale or beet greens?


  18. @Jennie – I think you could add whatever green/veggies you wanted. I recently bought Maia’s Salted Herbs – and wondered like you did – why can’t I make my own. I haven’t yet but I will. In Maia’s there’s parsley, celeriac, onions, carrots, leeks, chives and savoury. They also use a variety of salt such as Sea Salt, Himalayan Salt and Sacred Salt – which I think they said was a blend.
    How was it with the kelp?

    • hi Dodie!

      That’s a classic combination on herbes salees that you would find in Quebec or further east. Often the savoury is ‘summer savoury’ – it’s a mix I grew up with and adore!

      Yes, there’s a lot of room for ‘improv’ with this! 🙂


      • I was wondering if someone would mention summer savoury. Salt herbs are a staple in our house, but I’ve always purchased mine in Quebec, where we used to go each summer. Just Googled a recipe, and here you are! Now, for some new potatoes boiled with salt herbs, and a dash of butter — a meal in itself!

        • oh I SOOOOOO agree Helen! We grow summer savoury (my Mother is from Cape Breton where it is a staple as well); salted herbs are a big deal out there too and a boiled dinner (often with salt cod, cabbage and boiled potatoes) wouldn’t be the same without the salted herbs! 🙂 Hope you make some – you’ll be shocked at how easy it is! 🙂

  19. This is one of my family traditions as well. I’m a Caper. I was just wondering what part of CB your mother is from.