Eastern Home and Travel West Virginia—Home to The Salt of the Earth | Page 4
From start to finish, a batch can take from one to three months, depending on
Mother Nature. The season typically runs from April to November, contingent,
again, on weather. Spike Gjerde at Woodberry Kitchen in Baltimore and James Beard Nominee Ian
Boden at The Shack in Staunton, Va., or at locations such as The Greenbrier
Resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va.
Tours are offered at the Malden facility, providing a firsthand opportunity to
see how salt is harvested. You can see the actual drilling unit and greenhouses,
and you can also check out the ruins of the early equipment used long ago.
In one structure, which Nancy hopes to turn into a museum, you can view an
old (and empty) built-in safe, orders, machinery and other paraphernalia. The
onsite retail store at J.Q. Dickinson sells a number of other items that feature
salt, including soap, body butter, peanuts and granola. And you can purchase
liquid nigari, the byproduct from harvested salt. James Beard Award Finalist Tarver King uses the salt for as many applications as
possible at the Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville, Va.
“Even without the cool story they have and the history behind them, the clean
flavor this salt has is unique to say the least,” King said. “We use it to cure
delicate fish, our breads get a crust of it sometimes, ice cream, cookies, snack
nuts, a couple flakes in the coffee and all the cheese we make. To use ocean
water that hasn’t seen the light of day in so long is fascinating to me…and it
adds life to something that’s usually an underappreciated ingredient.”
If you aren’t traveling to Southern West Virginia anytime soon, don’t fret. J.Q.
Dickinson salts can be purchased in retail outlets, boutique shops and farm
stores from Maine to California. In addition, some of the best chefs in the
country use the salt in their restaurants, including James Beard Award Winner Down the road in the Piedmont region of Virginia, Executive Chef Anthony
Nelson loves using J.Q. Dickinson Salt at his relatively new restaurant, Field &
Main in the town of Marshall. Nelson suggests that it brings a very strong and
unique salt flavor with the perfect crunch.
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