North Carolina just became the second largest solar state in the country. Our state’s solar installations have even helped the United States solar market almost double its annual record. However, the unique solar oven design for a local solar farm, Hatteras Saltworks, is worthy of attention. On February 19, 2017 I met with the owners of Hatteras Saltworks, Brian and Shaena McMahon. We walked around their solar salt farm as they showed me how they collect, filter, and evaporate the sea salt in solar ovens, on their solar farm, made mostly out of recycled materials found on the Outer Banks.
The meeting of the warm Gulf Stream and the cool Labrador current, causing a dynamic event to occur right where their source water is collected and it doesn’t happen anywhere else on earth! This region is known for bountiful fishing, beautiful surf and the cleanest most nutrient rich waters possible. The Gulf Stream and Labrador currents collide, giving their location pure nutrient rich waters that travel along these powerful currents from all over the Atlantic basin. Also providing a unique source of high mineral content and high salinity ocean water. The sun is the only heat source used to evaporate these pristine waters found off of Hatteras Island.
The farms remote location is far from any major cities and due to the small population there is little water runoff from humans. As a result of extreme weather on the island they have an abundance of recycled materials from houses and ships being beaten by the weather. They reuse these materials as much as possible on the farm. With a large emphasis on sustainability, they work with Kempsville Building and local contractors to repurpose damaged Anderson doors instead of wasting them at the local landfill. To help protect against the strong weather patterns here on Hatteras Island, they created strong weather resistant housing to withstand the powerful Hurricanes and Nor’easter storms that happen quite often.
Through trial and error they came up with a strong solar oven design with locally recycled materials. The solar ovens evaporate the source water slowly never boiling it. Not boiling the source water helps to preserve mineral content. After collecting the source water it is filtered and evaporated in solar ovens, then hand picked in their United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved packaging facility. Here the clumps are broken down and go through a final drying in the ovens. In all aspects of the process they keep the Sea Salt as pure and natural as possible. Each bag of sea salt is packaged by hand and sold at the local farmers markets and local island stores; Conner’s Supermarket ,Fox Water Sports, and at the Cape Hatteras Motel in Buxton. Also available for purchase online via their website: www.HatterasSaltworks.com.
Hatteras Saltworks currently offers three flavors of sea salt; regular sea salt, pecan smoked and seasonal rosemary sea salt, which will be available on their website and locally around the winter Holiday season. Brian and Shaena walked me through the smoking process. They chop real pecan wood found in North Carolina and put inside a small grill, located inside the cold smoked oven. They place the sea salt inside the oven and let the pecan wood smoke away giving it the best smoky pecan flavor you can imagine. The pecan smoked sea salt tastes amazing with chocolate!
“Slow evaporation is the best method of reducing the salt water for mineral retention. Unlike table salt, good quality unrefined, pure, sea salt can contain up to 87 trace minerals. These minerals are a crucial contribution to our immune, digestive,and circulatory systems as well as many other benefits to our health. We believe that the ocean provides us with many of the Natural Minerals we need and it is important to us to share these health benefits with you. We believe our source water and technique of evaporation brings the best sea salt available. Pure nutrient rich ocean water makes pure nutrient rich Sea Salt.”~ Shaena and Brian McMahon.
If you have not tried Hatteras Saltworks delicious sea salt, you are missing out! From source to the package, their solar evaporated sea salt is 100% Hatteras Island made. When you visit Hatteras Island be sure to pick up some of Hatteras Saltworks sea salt, and take home a little piece of the Outer Banks.
Follow them on Facebook to stay connected: https://www.facebook.com/hatterassaltworks/. Also check out their blog for wonderful recipe ideas: https://seasaltnc.wordpress.com/. Please scroll down for a few frames of Hatteras Saltworks unique island solar farm.