A salty affair
November 12, 2013
Recently, I was contacted by the co-owner of an artisan salt company in Deer Isle, Maine called “Eggemoggin Salt Works”. He, Travis Fifield, suggested, considering my love of salt, that I may like to try their “reach salt” in some of my recipes. Naturally, I was intrigued. But first, I had to know what this “reach salt” was. So I went to their website to investigate. Apparently, most salt purveyors pump large amounts of sea water into huge pools that sit for weeks or longer uncovered to evaporate the water, resulting in large chunky salt crystals. Eggemoggin Salt Works, however, collect their salt water, by hand, 5 gallons at a time, from the Eggemoggin Reach off of Deer Isle, Maine. They even provide the latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates of exactly where they collect their water on their website, which I love. They boil the water rapidly to create a brine, which is then baked in a 200 degree oven. The constant agitation from boiling and baking results in lighter more delicate crystals. They describe the flakes as “Fluffy, flaky and fast melting” and say that the reach’s salinity lend it a unique and potent flavor perfect for baking and seasoning. Not only is their method of collecting the salt water and transforming it into sea salt impressive, I have a special affinity for artisan ingredients as well as small Maine businesses. It was beyond obvious that I needed to try their product. Travis graciously mailed me a jar of their salt and it was very exciting when the package arrived.
When I opened the small mason jar packed to the brim with their amazing salt, my first instinct was to break up some of it and taste it. It’s true what they said about it being “fast melting”. It was delicious! I immediately began conjuring up ideas of recipes to use this wonderful salt in. I wanted the recipe to highlight the salt. I wanted the salt to be the leading lady. My other concept idea was that I wanted to do a sweet recipe as well as a savory one. I really wanted to demonstrate how versatile salt really is. A good salt is akin to a really good quality extra virgin olive oil. It’s to be used to finish and elevate a dish.
My mind finally settled on peanut butter cups for the sweet recipe. Peanut butter cups are the perfect example of the marriage of salty and sweet. The salt in the peanut butter elevates the chocolate, making it more…chocolatey, while the chocolate highlights the delicious creamy saltiness of the peanut. It’s one of those relationships where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Besides, it was a perfect excuse to have peanut butter cups in the house! Halloween had just gone by, and my kids naturally ate all of their Reese’s first (can’t say I blame them for that!). I had made these peanut butter cups before for a gathering at my house and they were wildly popular. I figured that with the addition of a sprinkle of that lovely “reach salt” on the top of each little cup could only be short of spectacular.
As for the savory recipe, my mind wandered and considered several options, but the one dish that I decided would exhibit all that salt can be would be salt and pepper shrimp. This Asian-inspired dish wouldn’t muddle or displace the salty flavor. The simple and fresh ingredients would work harmoniously together while still allowing the salt to shine through as a significant component of the dish.
To obtain the wonderful “Eggemoggin Salt Works ‘Reach Salt'”, visit their site at http://eggemoggin-salt-works.myshopify.com/ and you can also “like” their fan page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/EggemogginSaltWorks
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