For Lily Leedom, salt doesn’t come from the baking aisle in the grocery store, a navy blue canister or even a specialty spice store. She prefers it straight from the source: the ocean.
“It’s almost alive,” Leedom said. “When you eat fresh sea salt, it takes on a life of its own.”
Leedom is the founder of Duxbury Saltworks, a small business that sells small batch sea salt taken straight from Duxbury Bay. She and seven other women hand harvest, package, sell and market pure sea salt from the bay in their backyard, a process that she says results in a fresh, vibrant seasoning meant to bring out the flavors of accompanying dishes.
“It’s really inspired by nature and our connection to the sea,” Leedom said. “Truly, that’s the inspiration behind it. Then, for me, it’s really a creative process of bringing that to life in a sustainable way.”
Duxbury Saltworks has been selling its product for about a year and a half, and it’s already in 100 specialty stores and has been shipped across the country. The business was born from Leedom’s own experimentation in the kitchen as she looked to find the perfect salt for each piece of a meal, she said, as well as a desire to pay homage to Duxbury’s rich maritime history.
“The original settlers actually called Duxbury Beach ‘Salter’s Beach’ and I thought, ‘Why is nobody doing this now?’” she said. “We kind of brought back this old tradition to the modern age at a time when people are looking for local, all-natural, small-batch foods they can connect with.
The process starts with water from the bay, which Leedom says is unique for a number of reasons: the oyster harvesting industry has introduced millions of oysters that naturally filter their source water, high turnover of tides mean fresh water is constantly coming in and out of the bay, and the mainly residential and shellfish farming uses — as opposed to other, more industrial alternatives — keeps the water clean.
Water taken from the bay is further filtered in the Duxbury Saltworks industria space, and harvesters then simmer it through a slow evaporation process to create delicate flakes of pure sea salt, which can be used both as an ingredient and to finish dishes.
“By the time we are harvesting the salt, our water is so clean and clear that we’re able to create a flake that almost dances in its vibrancy,” Leedom said. “It’s truly a marriage of science and art.”
In addition to the pure sea salt, the company also sells seasonal blends with ingredients like chives and rose petals, parsley, sage, thyme, and rosemary.
“Because we’re passionate about flavor and vibrancy and eating healthily, each season we come out with a new blend that compliments the fresh, natural organic foods that are relevant to that season,” Leedom said.
The blends are available through a seasonal salt subscription that ships quarterly with a supply of the classic sea salt and recipe cards for recommended uses.
New to the business is a bath salt that launched earlier this year. The bath salts are made by adding Epsom salts to Saltworks’ traditional product, and Leedom said the company is experimenting with adding scents for later releases.
“It was something we were interested in doing for a while, but it felt like the timing was right now as everyone is spending time at home and looking to nourish themselves,” she added.
All products are available on duxburysaltworks.com. A jar of seasonal or signature salt costs $24, the seasonal subscription is $28 and the sea salt starter kit is $42, which comes with a 5.8-ounce supply of signature salt, a salt cellar and a sample of the latest blend.
Photos in this post were taken by the wonderfully talented Greg Derr. They were originally published in The Patriot Ledger.