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Salish Sea Salts *Contest*

A new business here in Sooke

Last week, I came across the twitter account for a new business here in Sooke called Salish Sea Salts. I had not heard of them before nor seen their products, so I decided to check out their website to see what was up. As it turns out, they are a small local company that produces sea salt blends from seawater harvested right from the Strait of Juan de Fuca.I was intrigued – and my curiosity about exactly how you harvest seawater and extract its salty goodness prompted me to reach out to Jessica, one of the owners of the outfit, for an interview. I learned a lot and was amazed at just what goes into creating this local gourmet product. Everyone that knows me knows that I love to cook, so I was doubly excited to learn more about what they have to offer.

Salish Sea Salts is a local business producing locally hand-harvested all-natural gourmet artisan sea salts for cooking and bath salts. Having just started in October of 2011, Jessica was impressed with the results as she launched the business at a Christmas market in November. With an interest in environmental protection and the local food movement, Jessica decided to do her part and work on creating a local, sustainable business which would further the goals of the local food movement too.

They have many different flavours: natural, chili garlic (made from home made chilies!), roasted red pepper, smashed peppercorn, rosemary, lemon dill, and lemon pepper. For bath salts, they mix a blend of natural sea salts with local (if available) ingredients, essential oils and premium grade Epsom salts.

What is most interesting to me is how they create their products. I met Jessica and her husband at their boat at Sunny Shores Marina to learn more.  They travel about a mile or two off shore into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and extend a hose deep below the boat. An electric pump takes about an hour to fill the twenty 23 litre water containers that they had lined up on the dock to show me.

From there it’s a hefty job to lift them up the dock and into the truck. They filter the water and boil it in large pots over a propane burner over about 4 days to evaporate most of the water, leaving only the very salty brine. Ingredients are added and the rest of the water is evaporated. The salt is then roasted in the oven to remove all moisture and give a light roasted flavour. The salts are sifted, weighed, and packaged in food-grade tins.

Because regular table salt is highly refined, the many micronutrients that are found in sea salt are stripped from it . The addition of anti-caking agents and iodide makes table salt even more unhealthy. Because sea salt has a stronger flavour than table salt, you can also use less. Jessica has a whole page about the difference between sea salt and table salt on her website – check it out for more information.

Jessica prepares to harvest salt to create her products

Salish Sea Salts can be purchased directly from their website and they offer free shipping all this month in the local area. Jessica can also be found at local farmers’ markets throughout the Island. Check this page for dates. Upcoming this Saturday, February 25 is the Sooke Seedy Saturday at the Community Hall on Shields Road from 10-3.

I asked Jessica to share a favourite recipe with us. Without hesitation, she pointed to the first recipe on her recipes page for a delicious pulled-pork sandwich. I used Salish’s smashed peppercorn salt on a roast I made over the weekend which turned out wonderfully. The larger salt crystals and spicy peppercorns created a glistening crust on the roast and great flavour that permeated throughout. Very nice.

What’s next for Salish Sea Salts? They hope to have their products in local shops by late this year. I talked with them about their plans for the future and to become even more sustainable and eco-friendly. They plan to one day build a solar evaporator on their property in Otter Point to use energy from the sun to produce the salt. As the business grows, they’ll be able to invest in the materials and equipment to make it happen.

GIVEAWAY!

Jessica was kind enough to provide me with an awesome prize to give away to readers of WhatTheSooke.com. I have a gift pack of six 25g tins (one of each flavour) of Salish Sea Salts, valued at $20! How would you like to win it? You can enter the contest in multiple ways – each way will get you one entry:

On Friday (Feb 24, 2012) I will draw at random from the entries received. The winner will be contacted via email or Facebook.