Fun fact: salt is the only rock you can eat. But, harvesting the mineral is no simple task, as McClellanville couple Teresa and Rustin Gooden have discovered. The duo started Bulls Bay Saltworks, a salt manufacturing business using the saline-rich waters of Bulls Bay (some of the cleanest waters on the East Coast) filtered through a Rube Goldberg-like solar and wind evaporation system. Though the process is complex, the results are haute cuisine-worthy.
“We hosted a hog roast and decided to make our own salt for it,” says Rustin, a former park ranger for Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. “The salt was the talk of the roast, and we thought, ‘We can do this on a bigger scale.’” Two years later, the couple’s yard has become a workshop with brackish water-filled tubs, a filtering greenhouse, and a smoker for their smoked sea salt blend.
And Charleston chefs are taking notice. “When we talk about local seafood, we talk of the ‘merroir’—the environmental factors that make the food unique,” says chef Mike Lata of FIG and The Ordinary. “Being able to season our dishes with Bulls Bay Saltworks—salt from our ocean—punctuates that experience for our customers.” Purchase the salt at Caviar & Bananas and Seewee Outpost, or bullsbaysaltworks.com.