By Ben Jacobsen
It took 2.5 years to be confident in a salt-making process that would consistently yield great salt. We aren’t resting on our laurels or static in our thinking–we’re still refining that process today and strive to always get better. One thing, however, that I know cannot be made better, is our source of seawater. Mother Nature is hard to replicate. We tested seawater from 27 different spots along the Oregon and Washington coastlines before selecting Netarts Bay, where we now source our sea salt. With just a few seasonal creeks flowing into it, Netarts Bay has very little freshwater runoff (no major road or farm drain-off), and consequently higher than normal salinity readings for the Oregon Coast. Combine this with the fact that millions of oysters inhabit the bay and help filter the seawater we process, the result is salt that tastes incredibly bright and briny with no associated bitterness; salt that is light and flaky, like snowflakes.
We grade our salt on taste, texture, and color, all of which are a result of our technique and the water we start with. The uniqueness of our water source begins with the oysters.
Oysters, being bivalve shellfish, filter seawater to eat–mostly algae–and suspended particles in the seawater, resulting in delicious briny protein-packed morsels for sea lions, Dungeness crab, seagulls, and people.
Oysters are oftentimes distinguished by merroir (remember seeing terroir used to describe wine?), or the water environment in which they grow up. Most of the oysters we eat in the US are genetically the exact same oyster (Pacific, Eastern, Olympia, Kumamoto, European Flat), and it is the seawater that is the primary difference in taste and appearance. A Pacific Oyster, grown in Tillamook Bay, just eight miles north of Netarts Bay, tastes quite different from a Pacific Oyster grown in Netarts Bay. The only reason for that difference, just a few miles away, is its diet. Seawater varies by location, tides, time of day, seasons, and an infinite number of other factors.
Our job is to make the best salt we can. We’re a company that depends on clean seawater, and it’s also our job to help protect this natural resource. We’ve taken steps over the years to become more and more efficient and improve our process, all while ensuring quality. None of this is an open and shut process. It’s a commitment to always try and do the right thing in consideration for the generations to come. Salt is a very small part of the food on your plate, and we hope we can help make your meals even more flavorful. Join us this April in celebrating Earth Month. Buy from farms near you. Eat loads of vegetables and fruits. Be nice to your neighbors and our planet.