Not far from Jackson, right in the heart of Star Valley, is home to something truly unique. Yellowstone Natural Salt Company produces some of the purest and best tasting mineral salt in the world, and they are doing it right here in Wyoming.
Although the land and mineral rights were obtained in 1957, Yellowstone Salt Company didn’t expand into the commercial and culinary world until recently thanks to Nick and Carrisa Erikson. With so much emphasis being placed on education regarding where our food comes from and what it contains, salt, our most ubiquitous seasoning, is often overlooked
Salt is typically produced two ways, both of which can leave unwanted chemicals and additives in the final product. Table salt is usually mined from deposits deep underground. In order to extract the salt, and other minerals found with it, the deposits are blasted out with dynamite or other explosives, which leave a chemical residue on the salt. Evaporated sea water, another common way to obtain salt, contains many of the leftover pollutants in our ocean water.
This is where Yellowstone salt is different.
Over the Salt River pass along the Salt Creek is where the magic starts. That’s not quite true, the whole process actually starts deep underground in the artesian aquifer around 400 feet beneath the surface. The water that comes up to the surface, filling the Erikson’s small collection pond, then runs through earth rich in mineral deposits from the prehistoric Lake Bonnevile. I recently visited their site and was amazed when I tasted the water coming up from the ground. It was similar to briny ocean water but with a considerable amount of sweetness. From the spring, the water is trucked up to their drying facility in Afton. A large greenhouse surrounded by natural hot springs provides the perfect amount of year-round heat to evaporate the water into perfect salt crystals. Oak-wood pans line the bottom of the facility, and the drying process takes around three weeks in ideal conditions. The final product is then harvested using only wood tools and packaged in Afton.
Check out Yellowstone Natural Salt’s website for more info or to purchase some of your own. If you are in the Jackson area, their salt can be found at the Whole Grocer, Pearl Street Market, and Lucky’s Market later this spring.