As the Locavore Movement becomes more prominent, people who commit to eating only those foods grown within a limited geographical range usually run into the same dilemma: we are missing a very crucial ingredient – salt.
Of course, being on an island surrounded by sea water, you’d think this wouldn’t be an issue, but until recently, no one on the island was taking the time to produce salt.
Enter Steve Gutmann, another “crazy islander” who believes that good quality, locally-produced food, is worth the effort it takes to produce on a small scale. Every week, Steve heads out to the end of Cattle Point Road, tosses buckets on lines over the cliffs, and hauls up about 20 gallons of seawater on the incoming tide. Back at home, he runs the water through clean, cotton towels to filter it, and pours the water into trays and pans spread throughout his greenhouse. A fan running 24/7 keeps the air moving over the trays to help evaporate the water, but he doesn’t augment this process with heat – it’s all done naturally. The only heat he applies is a final hour or so in the oven before packing the finished salt into jars. As you can imagine, this drying process goes fairly quickly in summer, taking only two days or so, but this time of year it’s a much longer process. Between the labor and evaporating time, Steve can only produce 16 to 20 pounds of salt a year.
Steve was inspired to make salt after visiting lava cliffs in Hawaii. He found pockets of salt in the cliffs where sea water had splashed up and eventually dried. Using a nearby clam shell to scoop up the booty, he was delighted to cart home a full tray of the natural salt, just for the taking. How cool is that?!
Just as the compounds in the earth produce different flavor nuances in grapes, olives, fruits and vegetables, so too does seawater. Steve’s Salish Sea Salt dries in great big squared crystals, ultra white in color, with a sharp, briny flavor that zings on the palate without any residual aftertaste. It will definitely make an appearance on Coho’s rosemary bread and the Inns’ house-made breakfast bagels among other things.
Unfortunately, Salish Sea Salt is not available in stores, but Steve has a kiosk at his home on Argyle, and you can contact him direct for ordering information, (360) 317-4060. Salt fans, here’s one that you definitely won’t find anywhere else!