Salt Shakers

Handmade salt from California's freshest waters

Not all love stories involve salt. And not all salt stories involve love. But the tale of bush pilot Robert La Mar and ranch owner Lora Madsen involves both.

When business at their sport-fishing outfit was slow last year, the Gualala, Calif.-based couple had an idea: "We have access to a boat and some of the Pacific's purest water," they thought. "How hard can it be to make our own salt?"

Much harder than they anticipated. "Our first batch tasted like bleach," says Robert. "We had salt everywhere–in our hair, in the living room and a fine dusting over our dogs."

After testing various evaporation techniques and seawaters from different depths, they stumbled across a process similar to the English salt-harvesting method used by brands like Maldon.

But La Mar's Mendocino sea salt is distinctly Californian, with a crisp, clean flavor and crystals that are hollow, crunchy and delicate enough to crush between your fingers.

The couple's line also includes the seafood-loving nori salt (made with local seaweed and sesame seeds) and a sweet-salty rub called "Seasoning Sand." Next up: a bath salt made with California eucalyptus, an espresso-flavored salt and an alder-smoked variety.