Salt is salt. Right? Actually no.
Yes, all edible salt is primarily sodium chloride, but the source of the salt determines the minerals it contains and the color. How it’s managed will determine the size of the salt particles and how it’s best used.
We found three regional salts we think you’ll enjoy.
Bulls Bay Saltworks, South Carolina
Teresa Gooden and the Bulls Bay Saltworks team harvest seawater from South Carolina’s Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge just north of Charleston. They carry batches of that seawater 200 gallons at a time to their solar greenhouse where the sun evaporates the water and leaves behind crystals of salt. Much of the work to turn seawater to salt is done by hand, work they started in 2012. Bulls Bay Saltworks offers six salts – Carolina Flake, Bourbon Barrel Smoked Flake, Smoked Sea Salt, Charleston Sea Salt, Red Mash Sea Salt and Carolina Margarita Salt. We tried the Red Mash Sea Salt, a blend of their sea salt with Fresno pepper mash from Charleston-based Red Clay Hot Sauce. It comes in a grinder so you release the flavor from the mash with each twist.
$10 for a 2.5-ounce grinder of Red Mash Sea Salt. $15 for a 3.5-ounce jar of Carolina Flake. Available at Savi Brookhaven and Midtown, H & F Bread Co., Alon’s in Dunwoody and The Farmer’s Table in Douglasville. http://bullsbaysaltworks.com
J. Q. Dickinson Salt-Works, West Virginia
Salt from land-locked West Virginia? Yes. Delicious salt that comes from an underground brine aquifer. Sister and brother Nancy Bruns and Lewis Payne are seventh-generation salt makers whose family began drilling for brine in 1817. They report that their area of West Virginia was once the largest salt producing region of the United States. Now the siblings have revived the family business, evaporating the brine in structures they refer to as “sunhouses” and hand raking the salt crystals. The family produces Heirloom Finishing Salt, Grinding Salt, Popcorn Salt and specialty salts like Smoked Salt, smoked for three days over local apple wood. We tried their Ramp Salt made with West Virginia foraged and dried ramps, a delicious regional combination.
$5 for a 1-ounce jar of Heirloom Salt. $5.50 for a 1-ounce jar of Ramp Salt. Available at Strippagio, Star Provisions and Brookhaven Wines. http://www.jqdsalt.com/
San Juan Island Sea Salt, Washington State
The clan of Ryan Farm – Brady Ryan and his wife Leah Wymer, Brady’s brother Tyler Ryan and their friend Anna Strickland – are the farmers and harvesters behind San Juan Island Sea Salt. Brady Ryan first made sea salt as a young man when he and a friend decided to harvest seawater and boil it to make salt they could give as gifts. Now these sea salt farmers use greenhouses to evaporate the large “ponds” of water they harvest from Puget Sound off the south end of San Juan Island. It takes three to six weeks to produce the salt, depending on heat and air flow. They produce Natural Salt, Madrona Smoked Salt and a range of blends including the one we sampled, Bull Kelp Salt. That one mixes their salt with bull kelp, a seaweed harvested in British Columbia, Canada. The combination of briny salt and briny sea kelp makes it perfect with seafood but just as good on eggs. $5 for a one-ounce jar of Natural Salt. $7 for a one-ounce jar of Kelp Salt. Available online at https://www.sanjuanislandseasalt.com/ or on Amazon.