This might be the coolest thing I've ever done. People have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years. It's not something new or trendy or cutting edge. It's literally prehistoric.
The result of evaporated seawater. Basically, Sodium Chloride.
Did you know that much of the salt you see today labeled as "sea salt" does not actually come from the sea? As long as it meets the FDA's purity requirements, there is a loop hole that allows people to label their product as "sea salt". Not cool... right?
Before I go any further I need to give a HUGE THANKS to Chef Gabe of Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar, for inviting me out on his boat and giving me an inside look into the world of sea salt production. Gabe...you da man!
Here is a look at how the process went.
Step One: Collect Seawater
We met Gabe down at his boat in Dana Point Harbor where we promptly made some strong Bloody Marys (complete with celery seed from Gabe's garden) and headed out to sea.
We met a couple seals, made friends with some dolphins, and caught a glimpse of a baby whale all in the first hour.
He took us a couple of miles off shore where the underwater shelf dropped off and the seawater was pure and clear as glass (thanks
to the California Current that runs along the western coast of North America). Once there, he filled a 5 gallon bucket with water...mission accomplished.
Silly me forgot to bring along a bucket for myself so I found a couple of empty smart water bottles in my car when we got back to the harbor and filled three of them (totaling about 3/4 gallon). I couldn't believe how clear the water was - it looked just like drinking water.
Step Two: Evaporation
I poured the seawater into a large pot and turned the heat to medium-high. Keep the water temperature around 175 degrees, under boiling temperature so that your water is evaporating at a slow, steady rate. After a couple of hours you will notice that your water is starting to appear cloudy - you can actually see the salt - and keep reducing until your seawater resembles a cornstarch slurry - thick and white. Place your seawater brine into a shallow dish or pan and let the sun do the rest of the work.
Cover it with plastic wrap (poke a few holes so it doesn't get steamy in there) and place it in a sunny spot. After a few days it will be completely dry. Be patient.
Step Three: Store it
Store your salt and get ready to use it for finishing all of your favorite dishes. Have some fun with it...sprinkle a bit on Burrata with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil ...or on top of homemade semi-sweet chocolate chip cookies...options are limitless.
Note: My 102 liquid ounces of seawater yielded just under 5 oz of sea salt (by weight) and about 1 full cup of sea salt (by volume). It doesn't take much seawater to produce a nice amount of salt that will last you quite a while considering how potent it is and that you will really only be using it for finishing. Pretty rad to say the least.
Words + Photography by Sarah Hendrix // La Femme Epicure
Sarah is a private chef, food stylist and culinary consultant living in Los Angeles. She is a native Californian with an old soul and a serious knack for all things food, wine, and entertaining. She lives for all things pretty and delicious and has a strong belief in sourcing seasonally and locally with a personal mantra of quality over quantity. Her favorite things include handwritten love notes, paying it forward, farmer's markets, herb gardens, wine making, wine drinking, and long romantic walks to the fridge.