All salt comes from a salted body of water, be it sea or salt-water lake. Most of No. Six Depot sea salts come from the sea—Trapani from Sicily, Fleur de Sel of Guerande, Hawaiian Hiwa Kai--and through wind, salt and the industrious hands of man who funnel the sea water into ever narrower pools, we arrive at salt. But there are also mountain sea salts that, well, are found nowhere near a body of water. Or at least a present-day one…
Himalaya sea salt
Once upon a time—250 million years ago give or take a millennia--sea salt beds, now deep within the Himalaya Mountains, began to crystallize and were covered by lava. Aside from keeping these salt beds in a pristine environment that has been surrounded by snow and ice year round, the lava is thought to have protected the salt from modern-day pollution leading to what most believe is the purest salt on earth.
To this day, it is still extracted from mines and caves by hand, according to long-standing tradition, and without the use of any mechanical devices or explosion techniques. After being hand-selected, chiseled out, the salt is then hand-crushed, hand-washed, and dried in the sun.
Peruvian Pink Sea Salt
Perhaps even more romantic is Peruvian Pink Sea Salt. It comes from an ancient ocean trapped underground at 10,000 feet in the Andes Mountains in Maras, Peru. Since pre-Inca times, salt has been made in Maras by tapping into underground streams deep in the mountainside.
The highly salty water from these underground streams emerges at a spring, where the flow is directed into an intricate system of tiny channels constructed so that the water runs gradually down onto the several hundred ancient terraced ponds. These ponds are carefully fitted into one another in a series of polygons, one feeding into the next, with the flow of water carefully controlled by the workers. The altitude of the ponds slowly decreases, so that the water may flow through the myriad branches of the water-supply channels and be introduced slowly through a notch in the sidewall of each pond. As water evaporates from the sun-warmed ponds, salt crystals form on the inner earthen walls and floors. The pond's keeper then closes the water-feeder notch and allows the pond to go dry. Within a few days the keeper carefully scrapes the dry salt from the sides and bottom, carries it away, and reopens the notch for the next batch.
The salt mines traditionally have been available to any person wishing to harvest salt, and a cooperative system formed during the time of the Incas to most efficiently harvest the salt. To this day, the owners of the salt ponds must be members of the community and the size of the salt pond assigned to a family depends on the family's size.
Why are they pink?
The many hues of pink, red and white are an indication of this salt’s rich and varying mineral and energy-rich iron content.
Are they good for you?
In the same way vitamins and minerals are perfectly packaged in fruits and vegetables, sea salts are formed naturally with valuable minerals packed within. Commercial salts are stripped of all of these minerals and then add back in Iodine (along with many other additives and anti-clumping chemicals). Natural salts are already rich in iodine, plus over eighty minerals and elements including: sulphate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, bromide, borate, strontium, and fluoride. While we can’t speak for the health claims of Himalaya salt therapy, we do believe nature has a way of packing its goods with the things we need. If we can keep them pure, without additives or stripping, all the better.
Are they good?
These mountain salts have a rich, complex, minerally flavor. Wonderful on all foods, but particularly salads, vegetables and seafood.