So the great salt experiment continues!
After Dana’s salt experiment of a couple of weeks ago and my continuation of that project, I decided I wanted to try to create flaky salt from seawater without going through the process of making grainy salt first, redissolving, and dehydrating.
I also wanted to make flaky salt without using electricity–I wanted to both evaporate and dehydrate on the wood stove, which we have burning most days anyway.
If my experiment was a success, I also wanted to try smoking the salt!
So here we go!
I started with a smallish quantity of seawater because I wasn’t sure how successful I’d be and because the top of our wood stove is only so big. James gathered about three litres of seawater from the Salish Sea (Lambert Channel, in particular), I let the water sit overnight so any sediment (which was minimal) could settle at the bottom.
The next day I filtered the seawater through several layers of cheese cloth into a large stockpot and set it on the wood stove for two days, after which the seawater had reduced to half its original quantity–about 1.5 litres.
I poured the seawater into three low ceramic and glass casserole dishes and set them on the woodstove for about twelve hours.
After twelve hours, in two of the three dishes, the seawater had evaporated enough that the flaky salt was evident. I left the third on the stove overnight and in the morning, the seawater had evaporated into flaky salt.
I scraped all the flaky salt from the dishes onto paper towels to absorb any residual water.
I was anxious to learn how much salt I would harvest. My research indicated that the salinity of water in the Pacific Ocean is approximately 33 grams of salt per kilogram of seawater. Since I started with three litres (which equals three kilograms), I was hoping to get between 90 and 100 grams of salt, and was delighted when the result was 96 grams!
I next decided that I wanted to try smoking the salt. We have a smoker we’ve used for various seitan experiments and even a celeriac steak, so I mentioned to James that I wanted to pull it out to try smoking the salt, but he suggested our Breville Smoking Gun might be more appropriate for such a small job.
I’d completely forgotten that particular appliance and had never used it myself, so I did a bit of research and learned that you can quickly smoke salt by placing it in a ziplock bag and filling the bag with smoke from the smoking gun. The videos I viewed suggested leaving it for twenty minutes, but I actually had to re-smoke the bag three times and left the bag each time for at least an hour. I used the mesquite wood chips because I wanted a strong smoky smell and flavour. The other options are applewood, cherrywood, and hickory.
The result is very good: the salt has both a smoky aroma and flavour. And the smoke managed to very slightly colour the salt flakes, but the colouring was achieved only after the third smoking.
So there we have it! Smoked flaky salt from the Salish Sea!
This was such a fun project, and one I highly recommend to anyone with access to ocean water (far from the city), a wood stove, and a smoking gun.
My next project is going to be whiskey-smoked flaky salt, so stay tuned for the next installment of The Salt Chronicles!
And the song of the day is Humbird’s “Pharmacon”: