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San Juan Island Sea Salt
Contact: Brady Ryan & Anna Strickland
Address: 739 Telegraph Lane Friday Harbor, WA, 98250
Phone: 360-840-3202
About Us
Our business began with a formative experience: when I (this is Brady speaking) was in college I made sea salt for Christmas gifts with my friends by boiling seawater on my parents' stove. It took forever, made a huge mess and wasted tons of electricity. But seeing those crystals form hooked me!
Fast forward to 2012- Leah and I built our first evaporation house in August of that year and made our first batch of sea salt. In December we took some jars to a farmers market and made $700 on our first day. We were stoked!
Fast forward to now and we currently have 14 evaporation houses, producing around 20,000 lbs of salt a year. We have come out with about 30 unique products, and keep trying to push ourselves in terms of the flavors we use and the design we put into our packaging. We are still very much in the adolescence of our business as we try to figure out what the heck we are doing, but we are having a blast!
Between May and late September, we gather seawater from a gorgeous private beach on the south end of San Juan Island, bringing it back to our farm to be filtered and pumped into our evaporation houses. Why only in the summer? It's simple. Unlike most artisan salt producers, we solar evaporate our seawater instead of boiling it.
Evaporation & Crystallization: Once pumped into our evaporation houses, Its basically a greenhouse (or hoophouse) with an indoor ocean! We currently have fourteen of these houses and inside each is a saltwater pond that gets filled once a month during the summer. It can get very hot in here, making evaporation go quickly! Crystallization then begins, this is our favorite time. When there is still water in the pond but crystals have begun their proliferation. They usually start as tiny inverted pyramids hanging on the surface of the water!
Harvesting: After about a month—on average—the whole pond has evaporated, leaving behind a thick layer of salt! One of the things that make our salt unique is that we let our seawater completely evaporate, which allows the trace minerals naturally present in the ocean to stay in the salt, adding to its briny flavor!
Gathering: The salt that we gather from the houses comes in an amazing diversity of sizes and shapes, and through drying, sifting, grinding and sorting we are able to get our different grades: flake salt, finishing salt, grinder salt, and medium coarse salt (used in our bath salts). And although we only produce salt during the summer, it doesn't spoil, so we are processing and jarring it all year long.