‘Bread basket’ of Gabriola adds salt to the mix

Rachelle Stein-Wotten

Sounder News

Wednesday, January 22 2020

Emma Carter harvesting salt water for her company Salt & Co. - which recently won New Business of the Year from the Gabriola Chamber of Commerce. Photo courtesy Jeanette Martin, Shutterjet photography

In the winter time, when the air is cold and the tide is high, Emma Carter wades into Lock Bay. She’s there to harvest sea salt for her nascent Gabriola company, Salt & Co.

Having moved to Gabriola from Vancouver, Emma started the business in 2017 out of her home. Through experimentation, the chef discovered the naturally occurring salt marsh at Lock Bay, adjacent to Sandwell Provincial Park, produced a “really good salt,” she said.

“These are conditions that you are always looking for to make sea salt. It has sort of a bay area that the tide goes out and the area dries through the day, and the tide comes back in and creates really nice natural conditions for a higher saline content in the water itself.”

Emma harvests in the cold months rather than in warmer weather because the waters yield a salt that has a clean and crisp, natural taste. “The tide coming in and changing helps to makes a cleaner source for the salt, and is often to referred to as a moist salt.”

To ensure she leaves as light a footprint on the ecosystem as possible, Emma does not bring in any heavy equipment to remove the water, only a filter system, and does the harvesting when the water is five- to six-feet high. “Then we bring it to our salt works where we process the water through a boiling system…. It’s a very subtle extraction.

“The appreciation of that environment and the natural habitat is what helps to ensure its future and to be able to do our part in protecting and keeping these shorelines clean.”

Emma will spend the next few months harvesting and packaging her salt, which will be for sale online and at local markets in the spring. It makes an appearance in the dishes served on her food truck, which was parked at Silva Bay Resort & Marina this past summer and will be back next year. Through the food truck she has embraced partnering with other Gabriola food producers like Gabriola Food Hub, Good Earth Farm, and Just Another Weed Patch Farm.

“For me as a chef it was a great opportunity to make new connections and have a better understanding of the bread basket on Gabriola,” she said, adding the menu was created in part through knowing what was locally available and in season. 

“It’s just really a joy to work with.”