I love the glass canisters of sea salts that are sold by the ounce in the gourmet section of the supermarket. They come in a variety of colors; black, brown, tan, and white, depending upon their source and how they are processed. Some are aged in oak barrels while others are fresh, pristine, plain white. Each is named in some fashion according to the location it was gathered. They are flavorful and unique. The cooking experience is enhanced by something as simple as sea salt. It is generally thought to be more flavorful and have a better texture than regular table salt. Gourmet cooks seek it for their dishes.
Recently members of an online recipe group shared their ideas for making their own sea salt. It was a new idea to me! Have you ever made your own sea salt? Their conversation centered around the use of a slow cooker to speed up the evaporation process. The subject peaked my interest and I decided to see what more I could discover on this subject. Sea salt is a product of evaporation where brine is taken from the sea and warm, dry air applied and dissolution occurs. The sun's energy is generally used, but in cool climates other energy sources must be applied.
Making sea salt in your own home is a simple process, although not without its complications if you do not live by the sea. But, for the fun of it, let's explore the possibilities. You will need: sea or ocean water, a gallon size jar, a kettle, and a stove (unless you decide to use a slow cooker). Be sure the sea water is as clean as possible. Check out the environment where you gather it to make sure that there is not stagnant water with obvious pollutants. Once you are in your kitchen, strain the sea water through cheesecloth to remove any particles of debris or sand. Place the sea water in a kettle and boil on the stove-top for several hours. The idea is for the liquid portion to evaporate (take opportunity to give yourself a steam facial in the process). As the kettle becomes emptier, keep close watch. Remove it from the heat when there is a small layer of water left at the bottom of the kettle. It's important that you do this so that you don't scorch or burn the salt at the bottom of the kettle. Allow to sit overnight, if possible, so that the remainder of the water evaporates naturally. Then, scrape the salt crystals from the kettle and onto a plate. Allow the salt to dry out completely. When dry, pour the salt into a small container and use when cooking your favorite recipe. How fun is that?
(The slow cooker method would be similar, but would require less attention than a kettle on the stove-top because it is less likely to burn.)
~ Photos: Bandon Beach, Oregon ~