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From the Sea to the Salt

Teresa Smithmyer is a FarmHer who harvests a unique crop…sea salt! 

Bulls Bay Saltworks

During a pig roast she was hosting many years ago, she ended up with a side product of her own sea salt, leftover from the saltwater brine she had used for the pig.  That discovery turned into a passion project, then catapulted into a business, Bulls Bay Saltworks, where she harvests sea salt from water collected out of Bull’s Bay in South Carolina.

A few times a week she hooks up her truck to the trailer with huge tanks and drives the five miles out to Bulls Bay.  There she hooks up her pump and hoses and gets to work collecting the water.  

She then returns to the farm and she and her crew get to work. They hook up another series of pumps and start dumping the water into rows of black bins that line the tables in one of her four greenhouses. 

Evaporating Salt Water To Produce Salt

Then, the sun goes to work and starts to evaporate the water.  The greenhouses are run with just the power of the sun, with a solar fan in each one.

On a summer day the temperature can reach up to 150 degrees in the greenhouses, allowing the water to evaporate quickly. Teresa uses her skilled eye to watch the water and knows at just the right point to drain off the remaining water and then harvest the chunky cubical crystals of pristine sea salt left on the bottom.  It doesn’t get much more local and real than this!  

On the day I met Teresa, we started early, collecting the water and heading back to the house.  There Teresa, Noah and Yuka set to work moving the water into the greenhouses and waiting for it to evaporate.  They worked quickly to beat the upcoming intense heat of the day.

Smoking & Packaging Sea Salt

Once the salt is harvested from the bins, they do a quick brine rinse and then take it to dry in their packing room.  Once dried, some of it gets smoked for hours and hours in the smokehouse Teresa has on the property. 

Other salt gets packaged as is or even mixed with red pepper mash to make a variety of salts.  Teresa sell her delicious products to local restaurants, at a few farmers markets, at grocery stores and online.

To round out our morning, Teresa led me through a taste test. It was a fun and unique experience to taste such a flavorful and carefully crafted salt! 

Seeing the process of harvesting sea salt from saltwater, straight out of the pristine Bulls Bay was a joy.  Watching and learning from a FarmHer who has found her passion and worked it into the fabric of her life was a blessing.  Teresa is one very unique woman, providing her community and beyond with a delicious product, created with love, on the banks of South Carolina’s Bull Bay.

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3 thoughts on “From the Sea to the Salt

  1. By chance would you be interested in sea salts from Panacea, Florida. We have a marine aquarium that pumps sea water in from a shallow marshy bay in the Florida panhandle where there used to be a Civil War salt works. The name Panacea means healing, from the Greek Goddess, so that might be a marketing ploy for you. Anyway, please check out our website: http://www.gulfspecimen.org and see if the idea holds any interest for you. I’m thiking at the least, we could make some salt and show it to the thousands of students that come to our aquarium on field trips each year. I’m writing a book on the history of Panacea and its environmental struggles, and want to learn more about the salt marking that went on, so I’m hoping that we connect sometime. Best, Jack Rudloe

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