By Hermione Cole | Autumn 2022

A Guide to Sea Salt: How it’s Made and Where it Comes From

Pyramid sea salt crystals

Let’s get to know all about salt!

Salt production is one of the oldest practises dating as far back to 6,000 BC. Used for various trading and religious offerings, empires such as the ancient Romans actually used salt as a means of commerce, with Rome deriving the word ‘salary’ from salt. In present times, salt is one of the most important ingredients used and loved by cooks and foodies around the world. Not only does it enhance flavours within dishes and allows you to season to perfection, it is an element in which the human body can’t live without – sodium!

With this in mind, we want to explore the significance of sea salt, where we look into how sea salt is made, delving into various production and salt-work methods. Additionally, we guide you on where sea salt comes from around the world, and most importantly how Maldon Salt is formed.

How is Sea Salt Made?

Let’s keep this simple – sea salt is made by seawater from the ocean entering into shallow ground or a ‘salt works’ (man-made salt water pools) where by time the sun will begin to evaporate the water, leaving behind sea salt crystals – this is called solar evaporation.

Now this is is the easiest and preferred method for warmer climates with a low rainfall and high evaporation rate. But what about the other climates like the UK that aren’t graced with regular hot weather? This is where countries like ourselves get creative with sea salt production. We can delve into this in more detail in how Maldon Salt is formed deeper into the article.

High Tide

Where Does Sea Salt Come From?

Have you ever wondered if sea salt really comes from the sea? Well, it does! Sea salt is naturally produced by our world’s ocean sea water. It’s why we love it so much, as it a naturally occurring element, containing less iodine than table salt and obtains traces of minerals/nutrients including magnesium and potassium – a nod to the health conscious.

What about other salts – where do they come from?

Although it’s safe to say Maldon is sea salt’s biggest fan – there are other salts!

Table Salt – mined from natural salt deposits (older bodies of seawater which have dried long ago) the salt is then processed and manufactured into smaller crystals. Unlike sea salt, which is produced through natural methods, table salt production involves chemicals after being mined. It’s purified and striped of minerals and infused with anti-caking substances.

Mineral Salt – similar to table salt, but this type of salt is specifically mined from areas such as Pakistan, near the Himalayas. Did you know it’s colours are influenced from the additional minerals, such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium. You may know this as ‘Rock Salt’ . Here at Maldon we stock Tidman’s Natural Rock Salt, where the naturally occurring rock salt is extracted from ancient rock deposits. Fact – unlike other salts, Tidman’s is also additive free!

Historic photo of Osbourne family harvesting Maldon salt with salt rakes

How is Maldon Salt Formed?

Now let’s talk about our beloved Maldon Sea Salt. Since 1882, our world-famous salt flakes have been made with the same traditional artisan methods from the coastal town of Maldon, Essex. Our salt works are run by the fourth generation Osborne family, currently in the hands of Steve Osborn, following his father’s footsteps Clive, grandfather Cyril and great grandfather James.

The Maldon Sea Salt Process:

Seawater from the the Blackwater Estuary in Maldon is carefully harvested on the spring tide, where there is an appreciated art to the temperature and timing, which is a family secret. Master of salt makers have been hand harvesting the naturally formed pyramid-shaped crystals that have since became Maldon’s signature.

Maldon Salt is created through an evaporation process. Brine is evaporated in our salt pans over flames to form the unique salt crystals. This method is still used today, where our salt makers use the same time-honoured techniques with skilled hands poised over every batch. You can find out more where Maldon Sea Salt comes from by heading over to our YouTube channel.

Salt Racking Shot

Maldon Sea Salt vs. Table Salt

The unique pyramid flakes are Maldon’s trademark, recognised as the finest of sea salts. The pyramid flakes release their saltiness with sweet precision, a fresh intensity and clean taste. It is a highly versatile ingredient that can be used at any point in the cooking process, loved by chefs and the world over. Not to mention the texture has a beautiful flaky feel, perfect to sprinkle as a finishing salt.

Table salt as we’ve learnt always involves chemicals in the process – it is not natural like sea salt. The taste of table salt is also less saltier than sea salt due to being stripped of naturally occurring minerals and nutrients in the extraction process.

As a result, replacing your table salt with Maldon Sea Salt will help you refine your sodium intake as you only need a humble pinch of Maldon to enhance and season your dishes flavours and not a whole grinder’s worth to satisfy your salty crave.

Uses for Sea Salt:

Preserving – using sea salt as a preserve for food is a wonderful way of ensuring your dish retains moisture and doesn’t overcook. A salt crust creates a layer which insulates the food, minimising the chances of moisture from escaping. This mean that all the delicious juices and flavours stay inside the dish and ensues the food cooks more evenly. Check out our Salt Baked Sea Bass recipe in which go throughs the salt preservation process in more detail!

Tray of salt baked fish on table

Flavouring – sea salt allows dishes to be heightened in sweetness and to remove any bitterness. This is because of the sodium in salt in which supresses the bitter flavours in a recipe, creating foods to be more flavourful for the pallet. Head over to our YouTube channel to see our video with Sorted Food on different hacks and genius ways in using Maldon Salt to enhance flavour within a dish.

In conclusion…

At the end of the day when choosing your everyday seasoning, sea salt and table salt still have the same nutritional value. However it is our Maldon Sea Salt that helps connect people in the moments of pleasure from food and drink. We know taste enhances mood and Maldon Salt offers a little magic no matter the meal occasion, culture or cuisine. Our unique pyramid flakes are characteristics of Maldon, recognised the world over as the finest of sea salts. With the flakes itself, they release their saltiness and sweet precision, a fresh intensity and clean taste that can be used at any cooking process. You can also check out our recipes, tips and blogs to explore how Maldon really does give that pinch of magic to your recipes.

So now that we’ve got your interest, why don’t you try it out for yourself? Head over to our Where To Buy page now to buy online or find your nearest store.

New Maldon packaging range shot
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