The salt of the earth – in Washington.

For centuries salt has been held in the highest esteem. Greeks worshiped it. Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of it in the Bible. It has warded off evil and was so valuable as a currency that the word “salary” comes from the word salt.

saltworks1As a consumer, you’d think cities like Salt Lake City or Salzburg would be the big providers of salt. But truth be told, the world’s largest seller of salt – at least the gourmet variety – is in Washington State. Leave it to the foodies in Washington to turn a fairly pedestrian commodity – salt – into a worldwide phenomenon that has spawned 110 kinds of artisan salt to date. Best of all, it’s so popular it doesn’t just sell by the shaker-load, but the truckload.

Founded in 2001 in a spare bedroom, SaltWorks ships its gourmet salts to food processors, restaurants, grocery stores, salt mill makers and spice companies around the world. At any given time, the company has three million tons of salt available at its 130,000 square-foot warehouse in Woodinville, a suburban enclave of Seattle, which can store twice that amount if needed. Even so, the company says it will outgrow this facility and a new one will be needed in another two years to keep up with demand.

The salt names are as exotic as their respective flavors and colors, including such favorites as Snowflake, Pacific Blue, Espresso Brava, Lime Fresco, Spanish Rosemary and even a line of salts with special smokehouse overtones that are perfect for steaks. The company handles 110 different types of salt sourced from countries all over the world. A new product, Cold Water Sea Salt, is said to be the highest quality salt in the world.

Even though its products lead the way in the gourmet and artisan salt market, don’t think for a moment that the company is taking it easy. The company’s co-owners, Mark Zoske and Naomi Novotny, as well as their seasoned experts, travel the globe, searching for new flavor profiles while keeping a close eye on ever-changing food trends.

They are also constantly looking at new ways to approach the business. This continual innovation has led SaltWorks to expand the business over the years to include in-house processing capabilities to sort, screen, clean, dry and even smoke the salt to their specifications. The state-of-the-art facility can handle private labeling orders, including high-speed labeling; sealing; bulk packaging in plastic, glass, bags or disposable mills; and shipping, including doing all the customs forms required to ship internationally.

Knowing that their products may be new to some of their prospective customers, SaltWorks spends a lot of time on customer education. According to the company’s website, even cupcakes can be improved with the right salt, such as the Espresso Brava to add dimension to cheesecake or a little Habanero Heat on chocolate ice cream.

Who would have ever guessed that such a seemingly simple condiment could add a dash of culinary delight to everyday life?

For more information on SaltWorks or to place an order, visit their website.