This is your source for information on premium, unrefined, gourmet salt. Here you will find an ever-changing smorgasbord of entries by
our staff and guest authors about their experiences and love for gourmet salt, references to salt in the news and on the web, and salt application and tasting ideas.
Archive for October, 2009
Posted October 19th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: news, radio
Beyond the Shaker’s founders, Chris and Tyler, were tipped off (by the BTS FedEx delivery person! Thanks FedEx!) to an incredible radio program airing on WJR 760 AM Radio in Detroit Michigan. The show is titled “Come to the Table”and over an hour of interview time, it highlights some of the great happenings in food in Michigan and the surrounding region.
The show featuring Beyond the Shaker aired at 3pm ET on October 18, 2009 and can be heard here (seriously, it is pretty fun, but don’t take our word for it…listen for yourself): click on this link to find a streaming copy of the audio (scroll down to the October 18th show in the middle of the page). You can also directly download the audio file here to play on iTunes or as a pdocast (remember to have your speakers on and be patient as it takes some time to load).
As soon as we got word of the show, Tyler sent an introductory email to its host, Steve Stewart (a ridiculously great guy…and “ridiculously” is reserved for some seriously great folks), along with a FedEx (of course) of several of our Beyond the Shaker salt samples and a set of our distinctive jars containing a few of our all natural blends. Steve got back to us in no time, and we scheduled an interview with him in the downtown Detroit, Michigan studio of WJR radio. At Steve’s suggestion, Chris decided to fly into Detroit from Chicago (an ordeal unto itself as Chris arrived only minutes before the show was to tape) so the show could be recorded live rather than over the phone. This made all the difference in the world, as being together certainly improved an already lively dialogue between an expert interviewer (Steve) and the founders of Beyond the Shaker (Ty and Chris). Steve and his colleagues were incredibly cordial and we had a remarkable time together discussing salt and the vision of Beyond the Shaker.
We are huge fans of Come to the Table and hope you will be too. As an interesting side note (maybe only to me, but whatever), our family listened to the radio show live over the Internet from a vacation in Dublin, Ireland (6 hours difference, CT). Still incredibly fun and we celebrated with Bushmills 18 Year Irish Whiskey, which certainly is none too shabby. Thanks again everyone for the support and well wishes!
Posted October 17th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: retail, wholesale
Huge news! Beyond the Shaker unrefined salts and premium gourmet blends can now be purchased in Canada through the fine food store, OGourmet. This is our first foray outside the United States and we are excited to share our wonderful salt products with our continental neighbors to the north (we even added new french language labels to our distinctive jars). Anyway, this is one of many new retail locations where you can now purchase our Beyond the Shaker salts. We plan to announce several other locations as we continue to prepare for the holiday season, so stay-tuned to this blog for more information.
Posted October 17th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Chicago, natural, refined salt
Living in Chicago, it is almost impossible not to notice the giant “Morton’s Salt” sign brazen across the cityscape view. This is the center of a polar opposite world standing in stark contrast to Beyond the Shaker. Coincidentally, this mammoth factory is mere blocks away from my condo but surprisingly I have never driven past it…UNTIL TODAY!
As I neared the factory, that must have been sitting on at least half a city block of land, I was in shock at how large this production facility is…especially up close. Driving by it from high atop the highway that circles Chicago does not do the sheer size of the place justice. The other characteristic that surprised me was truly how much this facility was an actual factory (the way that I had envisioned at least such a salt factory to be…not being an expert, I honestly have no clue). If you look closely at the photo I shot from the car on my iphone, you will notice forklifts moving pallets around which presumably contain refined table salt in one of its stages of processing. In fact, I was partially expecting to see some little oompa loompas scurrying to and fro amongst amongst the giant salt works of the factory floor (for you info buffs, oompa loompa is defined by the Urban Dictionary as a girl/woman who wears too much fake tanning solution…which seems fitting for some reason).
We at Beyond the Shaker are not in the business of preaching about the health benefits of naturally occurring sea salts versus processed table salt. In fact, we do not even believe refined salt is in the same category, nor is it a competitor to our all-natural products. That being said/written, we do receive from time to time questions about the differences between our salts and refined table salt. And so here is our take on it: The real distinction between the naturally harvested unrefined sea salts at Beyond the Shaker (our Pure Foundation Collection) and the other stuff a.k.a., refined table salt, is in the name…simply put, refined salts endure intense commercial processing to make them more suitable for mass production and consumption.
During factory processing, rock salt or sea salt is put through a chemical transformation that strips the salt of its natural mineral content. Sea salts in their natural form can contain up to 60+ trace minerals plus countless macro-nutrients which give these salts their distinctive color, flavor and texture (not to mention potential health benefits from the mineral content).
On the other hand, the goal of such factory processing is to be left simply with a white powder that is easy to store and has an infinite shelf life. In commercial salt production, the chemical change described above occurs when rock salt is superheated driving almost all natural minerals out of the ‘salt’ leaving just sodium and chloride. Typically bleaching agents are also added in this stage of the processing to give the salt a sterile white color.
As a further step in the refinement process, anti-caking chemicals are infused into table salt to allow the salt to resist moisture content that would otherwise reduce its shelf life. Why are anti-caking agents bad (shouldn’t it be obvious that anything which is not PRO cake must be wrong?! hahaha. )? First, these chemicals interfere with the natural taste of the salt, and in fact can sometimes create a very bitter flavor which then must be counteracted by the addition of sugar to the factory processed salt. Odd but unfortunately true. Second, putting aside the fact that anti-caking agents interfere with the natural flavor of the salt, the other problem is that commonly these anti-caking agents are either alumino-calcium silicate or sodium alumino-silicate. Both chemicals can be found in household air freshners and latex paint (yummy!). There are some that say excess aluminum in the human diet can have negative health ramifications as well. Regardless, we certainly do not want these chemicals in our salt or food!
In a nutshell that is the world of refined salt for you. We are sticking with the all natural stuff, and we hope you chose to do so as well. And next time you are in the Chicago-area, feel free to drive by the Morton’s factory to see if you can spot any oompa loompas lurking amongst the vats of table salt.
Posted October 15th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: Detroit, gourmet food, retail
We are pleased to announce that Beyond the Shaker gourmet salts and distinctive blends can now be purchased at two exciting Detroit-area locations. Market Fresh, in Beverly Hills, Michigan, and Westborn Market in Berkley, Michigan. Please stop by these wonderful gourmet food stores to purchase Beyond the Shaker salts.
Posted October 5th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: gourmet salts, holiday market, Michigan
If you are hungry for Beyond the Shaker salts and can’t wait for delivery from our site, then we have some fantastic news for you…a selection of our premium gourmet salts are now available at Holiday Market in Royal Oak, Michigan.
We could not be happier that Holiday Market has decided to carry our salts. Make sure to stop by if you are in the area and pick up some of our products today!
And Beyond the Shaker has many more exciting new retail relationships to announce over the next couple weeks, so watch the SaltScribe for further news.
Posted October 5th, 2009 by Chris
Filed under: bacon, Chicago, gourmet food, semiramis
At Beyond the Shaker we’ve had some
good ridiculously amazing meals. And of course, had some great conversations about food with fantastic friends. Mix it all together in the ideal proportions with a bit of vino (hey, we all drove and so a ‘bit’ was certainly reasonable), and you have Monday, September 28th, 2009 at 8pm CT at Semiramis in Chicago, Illinois (ok, I was a bit late to the party, so call it 8:23pm).
On that particularly rainy autumn evening (OH MAN WAS THE RAIN COMING DOWN), I was set to meet a few dynamic business owners from the Chicago-area to chat about our mutual experiences launching gourmet food companies. I was joined by Scott and Una from Fino Products, an importer of incredibly delicious Croatian olive oil sold under the San Gurmano brand, and Elizabeth, an invaluable supporter/savior of Beyond the Shaker, and the brilliant life force behind Octavia Tea, a premium loose tea company.
As soon as we were seated, Joseph, a long-time friend, and the executive chef and proprietor at Semiramis, stopped by our table to highlight some of the many delicious menu items available for our gastronomic pleasure. Seriously, if you like food as we do (and if you don’t like food, 1. why the heck are you reading this?!, 2. what the heck is wrong with you?!, and 3. how the heck are you alive?!), it certainly makes sense to have friends in the food industry!
To jump start the meal, Joseph hooked us up with tasty delights like the fresh and tangy Fattoush salad (a flavorful contrast in textures spanning from diced cucumber to crisp toasted pita bread) and the incredible Vegetarian Plate. Please let me break it down for you…try to follow, if you dare/can. Garlicky hummus? BUT OF COURSE! crazy-good tabbouleh? YEPPERS! the best darn falafel this side (or any side, really) of the Mississippi? OH GOSH YES! dolmas (putting another nested parenthetical in here probably disturbs the grammarians (oh yeah, I got some skillz in vocab), but for the uninitiated, this is a grape leaf stuffed with rice tomatoes, mint and other goodies, and then cooked in olive oil with an accompaniment of yogurt)? DOLMAS, DON’T YOU KNOW IT! and smokey eggplant baba ghannouj? YOU BET YOUR SWEET GHANNOUJ IT IS INCLUDED IN THIS FEAST OF YUM!
Ok, now that you have re-read that last paragraph for the tenth time, you probably have an appreciation for how much we all dug the Vegetarian Plate. It almost makes me wish I was a vegetarian. Wait…oh no…here it comes…Bacon. Steak. Bacon. Lobster. Bacon. Lamb. Bacon. Duck. Bacon. Crab. Bacon. Chicken. Bacon. Trout. Bacon. Scallops. Bacon. Turkey. Bacon. Shrimp. BACON. Drats. Never mind.
The conversation amongst the diners this evening was lively. Perhaps it was the wine, the gorgeous food, or the rain. Regardless, it was one of those special nights that is hard to capture in words. As food folk often have samples in tow, we exchanged goods like surnames – olive oil, tea and salt were strewn across our table in a rainbow of flavor (skittles be damned). The merits of packaging design, wholesale pricing, and food demonstrations were discussed in detail. The ‘why’ of the food start-ups was debated and deliberated. Philosophies of marketing were communally pondered. AND my god, was it fun.
Here I was in the epicenter of creation at the precipice of an erroneously identified dormant culinary tectonic. A gosh darn shame is that when experiencing a moment in time, the actual moment is perhaps lost, and so in a sly (oh yeah, it bordered on a 007 maneuver with freaking ‘dropped’ bread as a distraction), I texted myself “thes is fun” (misspelling included at no extra cost). Yep, a basic message to be sure, but enough to evoke at a later date/time the spark of internal excitement which was felt as I ate ridiculously good food, had amazing conversations, and witnessed the seeds of an exciting gastronomic future.
The dinner progressed, we had amazing entrees, we conversed and eventually (reluctantly) disbanded. To experience and personally understand the passion of those amongst us that work around the clock for the golden ring, whatever it may be, is something special. And so it was an inspired evening with an outline for the most simple of guides to culinary happiness – eat at Semiramis, buy some crusty bread to eat with great olive oil and an equally great salt, and wash it down with a fantastic tea. Yep. That is the ticket for sure.
Posted October 4th, 2009 by Amanda
Filed under: Chef's Blend, Citrus Basil, Hot Habanero, juice, recipe, spicy, tomato, Windy City Celery
Windy City Celery Looking Yummy with Tomato Juice
I’m one of those weird people craves tomato juice when I’m on an airplane. It just sounds so delicious, nutritious, and satisfying when I’m flying the friendly skies. So imagine my shock when I decided to take a look at the nutrition facts on the back of my spicy tomato juice during my last flight. It had a total of 1600 mg of sodium—in just one beverage! The American Heart Association recommends having no more than 2400 mg of sodium per day—so that one drink could have potentially contained well over half of my entire daily intake.
I felt duped. There is no need to have that much refined sodium in anything, let alone a delicious tomato juice. So when I got home, I decided to search for my own recipe for spicy tomato juice—on that didn’t contain an obscene amount of refined sodium but rather utilized the potency of my natural, unrefined salt that contains less sodium than the refined version undoubtedly used in that can of juice.
I found this recipe on Martha Stewart’s website—she must have had the same experience I did and was so fed up that she made this marvelous recipe that requires only ¼ teaspoon of salt for a recipe that two people can enjoy.
The recipe calls for a food processor and juicer. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. If you don’t have a juicer, borrow one from your neighbor. They’ll understand. If they don’t, skip the celery and just add ½ cup of water. And consider making new neighbor friends.
3 stalks of celery, leaves attached
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon celery seed (even if you use Windy City Celery, still add the celery seed. No one wins when you skimp on flavor.)
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon of your favorite Beyond the Shaker salt (Windy City Celery, Hot Habanero, Citrus Basil, or Chef’s Blend are all awesome in this recipe)
2 red chile peppers, for garnish (optional)
Juice the heck out of the celery stalks so you can get about 1/2 cup of juice (yep, you can juice celery. Seemed crazy to us too). Pour into the bowl of your processor or into your blender. Toss the chopped tomatoes, jalapeno, lemon juice, celery seed, black pepper, and of course, your favorite Beyond the Shaker salt. I used the Windy City Celery Salt, but you could really use any Beyond the Shaker salts mentioned in this recipe. Of course, Hot Habanero Blend really can add a ton of spicy kick!
Process/blend until fairly smooth, but keep some of that thick texture that makes tomato juice so satisfying. Garnish with chile peppers, if you’d like, or perhaps olives, pickles, another stalk of celery—go crazy! It’s natural, it’s delicious, and it’s yours.