How to Make Salt From Local Seawater
Capture an abundance of the sea’s briny, bitter and butter-sweet trace minerals with these experimental techniques for how to make salt from local seawater.
At the end of baking, the crystals rimmed the pan, and we scraped them off with the metal spatula. The yield varied depending on the source of the brine.
Photo By Thomas J. Story (c) 2011
Based on the James-Beard-Award-winning One-Block Diet, The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011) is the ultimate guide to eating local. Complete with seasonal garden plans, menus, 100 recipes and 15 food projects, this guide explains how to raise and produce everything needed for totally made-from-scratch meals, all from your own backyard. The following excerpt on how to make salt is taken from “The Winter Projects.”
You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The One-Block Feast.
How to Make Salt
Of all the projects we attempted as part of our One-Block feasts, this may have been the most far-fetched. We had read of other people’s efforts, most memorably Michael Pollan’s in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in which he scavenges water from trash-strewn wetlands and evaporates it on his stove top into brown salt that, he writes, “tasted so metallic and so much like chemicals that it actually made me gag.”
But we persisted because we knew we had to have seasoning for our dinner, and figured—what with the San Francisco Bay to one side of us (the same bay that Pollan harvested, actually) and the Pacific Ocean on the other, we had some water to choose from. Also, the other raw materials that we had “imported” for our feast—grapes for the wine, olives for the oil, and milk for the cheese—at least were transformed from their natural state by our own hands. It would be copping out to just go buy salt.
The process proved surprisingly easy, and the yield was much higher than we had expected. And our salt looked pretty (pure white), smelled fresh, tasted exactly like the ocean, and made a fine seasoning for our feast. As to whether it was safe to consume or would behave like normal salt in cooking, we weren’t sure. We were just happy that we had, in fact, made our own salt from local seawater.
Pacific Sea Salt
We hauled drums filled with Pacific seawater to our Menlo Park offices and reduced several gallons to salt.
How to Make Salt: What to Use
Food-grade plastic drums. We had a few clean 5-gallon food-grade plastic drums left over from making olive oil, so we used them to transport the brine. Any thoroughly washed bucket will do. Drums cost about $15 each, plus $20 handling fee if your order is less than $100, at The Olive Oil Source (805/688-1014).
Coffee filters or a triple layer of cheesecloth. For filtering the water. About $4.50 for 2 square yards at a hardware store or cookware store.
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