Gourmet salts are having a moment. Sure, on one hand, table salt is just sodium chloride, and don’t let anyone tell you differently. On the other, the crystalized, colorful finishing salts used by gourmet restaurants will often contain surprising flavors resulting from unique, localized minerals from where they were sourced. Much like wine, these salts capture terroir—which is why the $1 billion gourmet salt market is seeing moderate but steady growth, projected to reach $1.5 billion by 2023.
Now, you can bring rare salt production home. SAL⊥, created by Boir Studio, is a personal, gourmet salt making kit. The system is a beautiful heirloom unto itself. It’s a ceramic tray, wrapped in one of two finishes of hand-carved oak or walnut. Boir includes a small bottle of concentrated salt water from the Mediterranean. You pour in a very thin layer of water, set the tray in the sun or oven, and the crystals will form all on their own. (In the oven, the process is downright quick: It takes just 25 minutes.)
“Inspiration for this kit came to my husband, Ivan, when he noticed the small pools of seawater trapped in the rocks at the beach,” says Boir cofounder Vlatka Leskovar. “He saw the water evaporate, leaving little nuggets of natural salt.”
In fact, this is how ancient salt production—still practiced by some producers on the Croatian Adriatic coast—works, too. Over five stages of production, increasingly concentrated seawater is poured into a salt pan, which evaporates in the summer sun. When the crystals finally form, they are gathered up with a T-shaped rake. SAL⊥ provides such a rake in its kit as a nod to the ritual.
Notably, Boir doesn’t see SAL⊥ as a high art project, nor a miniature sculpture that should sit on your shelf. Its creators view SAL⊥ as a real kitchen tool, meant to complement any tool in a modern cook’s collection. In this sense, it seems to be a halfway point between a desktop zen rock garden, with its miniature pile of sand and rake, and a homebrewing kit, allowing you to make your own beer or wine.
“Technically, it could work with any salt water,” Leskovar points out. “But we suggest using the bottled concentrated Adriatic sea water that we provide—because it’s definitely not polluted, and as it’s highly concentrated, you just need a thin layer of seawater to get beautiful and big crystals.” A less concentrated water will produce finer grinds more like typical table salt, she says.
SAL⊥ is available now for $107. Additional sea water is sold in four packs for $29. And if that sounds expensive, well, you clearly haven’t dipped your toe very deeply into the world of gourmet salt.