Halen Mon Sea Salt
When You Buy Halen Mon Sea Salt, You're Getting More Than Just Salt.
You're also getting a lesson in linguistics!
This pristine sea salt comes from the island of Anglesey in Wales UK and that's just what the name translates to: Anglesey salt.
It's a completely natural Welsh sea salt, renowned for being one of the purest available.
Let's look a little closer and find out why this gourmet sea salt is recommended by everyone from Welsh butchers to the President of the United States.
Where Does Halon Mon Sea Salt Come From?
Halon Mon's gourmet salt comes from the waters of the Atlantic around the Isle of Anglesey.
Specifically, it is harvested in the Menai Strait.
This strait separates the island from the Welsh mainland. It is the sheltered position of the strait, in between two land masses, that creates strange tidal conditions with low waves, resulting in an unique ecology.
The strait is filled with macroinvertebrates, a fancy name for large creatures without bones. Fortunately, this sounds a lot less creepy when you realize that it just refers to creatures like sea sponges.
These animals are filled with gaps that allow water to flow through them at all times, acting as living water filters to create some of the world's cleanest seawater.
THE HALON MON STORY
Like many places surrounded by sea, the Isle of Anglesey produced salt from time to time.
However in the late 1700s the owners were put out of business for secretly adulterating their sea salt with cheap rock salt from the mainland. This left the salt unused for a couple of centuries until the current owners moved to the island in the 1970s.
Organic Sea Salt
Initially, David and Alison Lea-Wilson had no intention of making an organic sea salt and fulfilled their fascination with the sea by starting an oyster-fishing business that sold to local restaurants.
They expanded this to include a Sea Zoo once it became apparent that half of their customers only visited them to gawk at the shellfish in holding tanks.
This quickly became the largest aquarium in Wales, and they figured out that the secret to its success was the astonishingly pure water, which satisfied even their notoriously picky seahorses.
The trouble with both the oyster business and the aquarium was that they were seasonal, and so a lot of the workers had to be laid off during the winter lull.
Eager to find a way to live off of the sea in the off-time, the Lea-Wilsons started experimenting with sea salt in 1997. This produced a truly fantastic salt from a pan of boiling seawater on a simple cast-iron stove.
They quickly began refining their techniques and by 1999 were producing enough to supply local merchants like the butcher Swain's, who still sells their salt.
The Anglesey Sea Salt Co Brynsiencyn Isle of Anglesey UK
The Anglesey Sea Salt Company was officially founded in 2002 and is now famous as the United Kingom's only producer of organic sea salt, certified by the Soil Association, which is known for being pretty strict.
In 2014 Halon Mon was recognized by the European Union and awarded protected status as a unique regional product alongside such culinary classics as Champagne and Stilton cheese.
In the years in between, it's been served at royal weddings, to visiting US presidents, and even at the London Olympics in 2012.
Halon Mon Sea Salt
Despite its new found fame, Halen Mon is still a little family operation with fewer than 20 employees.
It uses a combination of hand-harvesting and high-tech refining to gently extract the salt from the seawater.
The process starts by collecting seawater from the Menai Strait and filtering it through charcoal to catch anything the sea sponges missed.
The filtered water is then heated in a vacuum so that it boils at a lower temperature, resulting in less damage to the salt crystals.
Once enough water has evaporated off as steam, the resulting brine is left in shallow evaporation tanks until salt crystals form naturally.
The crystals are harvested by hand and rinsed in additional brine to leave their characteristic gloss and sea-fresh taste.
Most of this salt is then packed pure, but some is blended or smoked to create Halen Mon's additional specialty salts.
HALEN MON - FLAVOR AND USES
Since Halen Mon's Anglesey sea salt is processed only by heating and rinsing, and is perfectly pure and tastes like clean ocean air.
The briney flavor is subtle but brisk and refreshing and the large, flaky crystals are snow white and very crunchy.
How To Use Halen Mon
Since the taste is fairly subtle, dissolving this gourmet salt in soups and baked goods is a waste of flavor and money.
Instead, reserve it for a finishing salt to sprinkle on at the end for some crunch and a salty tang.
This is a particularly delicate salt, so its flavor might be overwhelmed by heavier foods, but it makes a beautiful companion for lighter fare like vegetables and fish. Its crunch adds a nice texture to salads, and the briny flavor is an excellent complement to simple seafood like steamed muscles or grilled fish.
If you'd like to get more creative with using your Halen Mon sea salt, consider using it as a rim salt for extra-fresh summery cocktails.
Or take a hint from Barack Obama himself and sprinkle it on milk chocolate; it's his favorite sweet-and-salty treat.