SLOW SOLAR EVAPORATION GIVES THE CHUNKY, CRUNCHY TEXTURE TO THE ARTISAN SALT PRODUCED BY J.Q. DICKINSON SALT-WORKS IN MALDEN, W. VA. BRIGHT AND BOLD WITH A TOUCH OF BRININESS, IT “FINISHES ALMOST SWEET,” SAYS CO-FOUNDER AND CEO NANCY BRUNS. SHE RECOMMENDS USING IT ON MEAT, EGGS, SALADS, VEGETABLES – OR ANYTHING RIGHT OFF THE GRILL.
“I love it on chocolate desserts with caramel,” she says. “It heightens the flavor and balances the sweet.”
Completely natural, the salt comes from the 400-million-year-old Iapetus Ocean trapped deep below the Appalachian Mountains – where there is no surface contamination. The unrefined salt is six percent trace minerals and is high in calcium, magnesium and potassium so using less still provides more flavor and minerals than from highly processed alternatives, Bruns says.
Bruns, a New England Culinary Institute graduate, and her brother, Lewis Payne, a lawyer and former landholding company vice president, revived their family’s salt producing company ten years ago – seven generations after William Dickinson sourced his first Kanawha Valley brine in 1817. By 1851, “Great Kanawha Salt” was named best in the world at the World’s Fair in London.
On the same 200-year-old family farm, Bruns, Payne and their staff of 11 hand harvest the salt that they serve with regional chef-inspired farm-to-table dinners that sell out within a day. Six flavors – including Heirloom, Applewood Smoked and Ghost Pepper – along with spice blends and two craft cocktail varieties retail throughout the mid-Atlantic.
“Having the rich family history tied to our business is not only good for us as a family but is beneficial to the local and state economy,” Payne said.
STORY BY LAURIE BAILEY / STYLING BY KEITH RECKER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVE BRYCE
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