Rich, well-primped people (your Gwyneth Paltrows, your Ina Gartens) are always talking about Maldon sea salt as if, like a box of Arm & Hammer baking soda, it’s just something you have around, no bigs.
But holy hell, nearly 11 bucks for a wee box of salt? I can buy a shoebox-sized tub of the kosher stuff for less than a cup of coffee. For comparison, Morton Iodized Salt retails for about 4 cents per ounce.
Yet there I was one day, seduced by the smooth rock playing at the local overpriced grocery store, considering a box. It is “loved by chefs the world over,” the italicized font of its label proclaimed. I needed to know if, like “True Detective,” Maldon sea salt was worth the hype.
Dear readers, it is. It really is. Maldon elevates everything its soft-crunchy flakes touch. And it’s not just the clean, sea-fresh salinity you’ll start to crave on, well, everything—it’s a textural thing you’ll get attached to. The bright burst of a salt crystal between your teeth renders whatever finished dish you scatter it on more alive. Cold pizza? Better. A crisp salad, simply dressed? Improved. Homemade, already-insane chocolate bark? Yes, that too. I swear.
On taste alone, it’s worth it. But considering the whys behind the price tag helps ease the purchase pain. (Knowledge is power!) Maldon sea salt is still made in the old-school method: boiling seawater until the salt crystallizes, and then hand-harvesting it with a metal, rake-like instrument in a process called “pulling.”
The same company has been making this salt for 132 years, but the British town of Maldon in Essex County has produced salt from its flat, tide-washed marshes for ten times as long. Maldon provides salt to Buckingham Palace, and in 2012 received an impressive-looking seal on the box, called a Royal Warrant, to prove it.
Did you catch that? THE QUEEN LIKES THIS SALT.
You will, too, I think. But you can also try out the company’s little $2 travel-sized tins if you want to take this new relationship slowly before a big box commitment.