Between May and late September, we gather seawater from a gorgeous private beach on the south end of San Juan Island, bringing it back to our farm to be filtered and pumped into our evaporation houses. Why only in the summer? It's simple. Unlike most artisan salt producers, we solar evaporate our seawater instead of boiling it.
These are our evaporation houses. Its basically a greenhouse (or hoophouse) with an indoor ocean! We currently have fourteen of these houses and inside each is a saltwater pond that gets filled once a month during the summer. It can get very hot in here, making evaporation go quickly!
This is our favorite time. When there is still water in the pond but crystals have begun their proliferation. They usually start as tiny inverted pyramids hanging on the surface of the water!
Ready for Harvest
After about a month—on average—the whole pond has evaporated, leaving behind a thick layer of salt! One of the things that make our salt unique is that we let our seawater completely evaporate, which allows the trace minerals naturally present in the ocean to stay in the salt, adding to its briny flavor!
Gathering the Goods
The salt that we gather from the houses comes in an amazing diversity of sizes and shapes, and through drying, sifting, grinding and sorting we are able to get our different grades: flake salt, finishing salt, grinder salt, and medium coarse salt (used in our bath salts). And although we only produce salt during the summer, it doesn't spoil, so we are processing and jarring it all year long.
Into the Salt Kitchen
After harvest our salt is brought into the kitchen where we dry, sort, dry, grind and sift it to make our various salt grades. And yes we are major salt dorks.
Into the Spice Kitchen
Once we have our salt processed, the stuff that isn't used for natural salt heads into the spice kitchen where we mix it with over 100 different organic herbs to make our seasonings.
Off to you!
It's a team, family effort from start to finish. Here is Sawyer helping out with the holiday rush.