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Prince Edward Island Sea Salt Company

Chow
by Ann Thurlow

Nathan Gamauf and Darren Blanchard of the PEI Sea Salt Company (photo: Ann Thurlow)What are the chances that two guys would come up with the idea for a salt business at roughly the same time? Or let’s put it another way—why has it taken so long for anyone to refine the idea of harvesting some of the salt in all the water that surrounds us?

A couple of years ago, Darren Blanchard started a company called Black Whale, where he made and sold salt. It didn’t take off exactly as he had hoped, so he shelved the idea. Then along came Nick Gamauf, who had been working on a method to extract salt from water in a way that was both replicable and tasty.

The two met by chance and became the co-founders of the Prince Edward Island Sea Salt Company.

You think salt is salt? Think again. You can go to a gourmet shop and choose between maldon and kosher, pink Himalayan and gris. Or you can buy a bottle of PEI salt and compare it to the salt that’s in your shaker. I could tell you the PEI salt tastes saltier, but even though it’s true it sounds ridiculous. How about this: it’s brinier. You need only a tiny amount to add big flavor.

The truth of it is that anyone can make sea salt. Go get yourself some sea water and boil it down and eventually you’ll get yourself some crude and bitter salt. The trick, as Darren and Nathan have learned, is to reduce it quickly and then slowly. They gather the water in fifty-five gallon drums and evaporate it at their facility in Harrington. (Fun fact: one hundred litres of sea water will yield 5.2 kilos of salt).

You can now get unflavoured salt as well as infused salts which include black garlic, Receiver coffee and Rossignol wine. Both the latter would be great in soups and stews; I often put coffee in onion soup, especially if I’m using a vegetarian broth. And all the salts come in a pretty little bottle.

The pair are hoping to build a larger facility that uses passive solar to evaporate the water. In the meantime, they are turning out salt as quickly as they can, answering a growing demand for the very most local of products.

Prince Edward Island Sea Salt is available from their website or in a number of smaller food shops.

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