Those of us who live near the ocean don't regularly associate the taste of the salty water with our favorite foods. But salt harvested from the North Atlantic, specifically from a special place off the coast of Gloucester by Atlantic Saltworks, will make you appreciate the flavor and source of this everyday staple. Owners George and Jodi Bradbury produce handcrafted, small batch sea salt products that reflect their New England pride and their goal to bring the taste of the sea to your table...
Salt is something we use everyday - can you tell us something about sea salt or sea salt production that most people may not know?
Depending on the process used, several types of sea salt can be harvested from the same boil. At Atlantic Saltworks from one boil we produce four distinct types of salt: flake finishing salt, grinder salt, kosher salt and mineral salt.
What got you interested in harvesting and making sea salt by hand as a business?
I (Jodi) have always had a passion for food, which lead me to culinary arts school and inspired me to open Jodi Bee Bakes (Salem, MA). George has a background in biotech, specifically in manufacturing and a passion for process improvement. When we met the original owners of ASW, we were both fascinated by the product and the process of harvesting a superior and local salt. We started out as their earliest customers but soon became friends and were witnesses to their journey from the start. When they decided to sell, George's and my unique perspectives, talents and experience seemed to complement the salt making business model very well. We knew that we had the ability and the drive to continue to produce the high-quality product we had grown to love over the years.
The process for producing your different salt products has several steps - what part of the process is most challenging? What part do you enjoy the most?
The most challenging step in the process is definitely timing, both during the boil and then during the final harvest. Although the process is roughly predictable, because there are so many variables such as temperature, salinity, weather, etc., the salt is definitely on it's own schedule. With that being said, once it is ready it needs to immediately be attended to and attended to frequently (roughly every 4-6 hours over the coarse of 2-3 days) to ensure the best yield and product. We frequently compare the harvest to having an infant that needs feeding at regular intervals! We both particularly enjoy seeing science and nature at work during the the crystallization phase and harvesting the beautiful, pure white crystals from the brine, is immensely satisfying.
How does the New England region influence your business or products?
We were both born and raised on the North Shore of Massachusetts and we share a reverence for the the ocean and how it has shaped the communities of this area, especially the people of coastal fishing villages, like Gloucester. The waters of the North Atlantic and our precise collection location off the shores of Gloucester lend a unique flavor to the sea salt. In addition, the ability to use our natural resources to produce a local salt by hand and continuously tweak the process to make it more efficient, appeals to the Yankee ingenuity and pragmatism that characterize New Englanders.
What is your favorite way to enjoy using sea salt? What is the most creative way you have heard of someone using your salt?
Our favorite way to use the flake salt is as a finishing touch on dessert. At Jodi Bee Bakes, we finish our dark chocolate chip cookies and our dark chocolate brownies with it; the addition of the delicate crunch and the briny taste, elevates the intense flavors of the dark chocolate and balances the sweetness. At Pigeon Cove Ferments, they use our mineral salt in the fermenting process of their sauerkraut and kimchi and at Nectar and Green, our kosher salt is added to their Sea Salt & Honey organic, pressed Almond Milk. We love that our varieties of sea salt are used in so many applications and in so many small, local businesses.
*Holiday product update! Atlantic Saltworks have launched a new product for the holiday season! The Peppercorn Medley Grinder is filled with festive green, red and white peppercorns and is a perfect accompaniment to their sea salt grinder. For a limited time they are offering the pair, a $20 value, for $18. They are also offering a holiday special: a jar of Flake Sea Salt, Coffee Sea Salt, Lemon Sea Salt and Salty Tuscan Blend, a $44 value for $40.
Photos: Melissa DiPalma