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Behind the Seasoning: Black Label Reserve Smoked Salt & Pepper

Close up of Black Label Reserve with picnic background

This isn’t our first foray into the world of smoked spices. Our Whiskey Barrel Smoked Black Pepper is wildly popular and was the first spice in our (growing) line of spices that are carefully smoked in-house (for more about the journey, read Up In Whiskey Barrel Smoke).

The smoky flavor complexities that we were able to develop stoked our creative fires, and we went on to create our own Whiskey Barrel Smoked Sugar and Whiskey Barrel & Hickory Smoked Salt.

We recently added a second smoker to the fleet, to keep up with the growing demand for these unique spices. And then, inspiration hit. If smoked pepper was a crowd-pleaser and smoked salt is increasingly popular, why not marry them. After all, salt and pepper is the classic spice combination.

Black Label Reserve Smoke Salt & Pepper on black background with smoke wisps

Why is Pepper Paired with Salt?

When you think about flavors, it’s no wonder that nowadays, pepper is almost always paired with salt in savory dishes (and even some sweet dishes, we have an excellent recipe for Cherry Bonfire Bars!) Salt effectively opens up your tastebuds and accents other flavors. Combining sea salt and black pepper creates the perfect blend of sweet mineral notes that underscore the saltiness and earthy, spicy pepper flavors. For more on the culinary history of salt & pepper, read this interesting article by NPR.

Together, salt and pepper are full-flavored but can also be a blank canvas for other ingredients…or for smoke! When we first blended our smoked salt & pepper, we realized that our Whiskey Barrel Smoked Black Pepper was just a little too coarse to mix thoroughly with the salt. So, as we do with any blend, we tweaked and re-tested. We landed on a perfect size that allows the salt and pepper to integrate fully for the ideal mix in every sprinkle!

It took some trial and error to figure out the right temperature, smoke levels, and timing. The road to perfectly smoked spices was a little bumpy, but we prevailed. We regulate the temperature and smoke to ensure that the spices never get too hot for too long and carefully time rotations to ensure that each granule can fully absorb the smoky notes.

Watermelon and Feta Salad in bowl with two wooden utensils to the left

How To Use Smoked Salt and Pepper

You can use Black Label Reserve Smoked Salt & Pepper anywhere you typically use salt and pepper for an extra hint of smoke and depth of flavor. When we asked testers for ideas, they ranged from the sweet (smoked salt & pepper caramel sauce) to the simple (sprinkle on buttered bread) to the sophisticated (sprinkle on soft cheeses on a cheese board). Here are a few more ideas…

  • Salted watermelon (which sparked a delicious Smoky Watermelon & Feta Salad)
  • Season baked potato or roasted veggies
  • Give a new twist to Caprese salad, or just sprinkle on sliced tomatoes
  • Popcorn!
  • Two words: avocado toast
  • Use as a rimming salt for margaritas or bloody marys
  • Smoky omelette or sprinkled on a soft-boiled egg

 

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