For years people have included a visit to the Lewis and Clark Salt Works in their journey to the resort town of Seaside, Oregon. They learned the importance of salt. For Lewis and Clark salt was not only valuable as a seasoning, it was key to preserving meat and fish, something the Lewis and Clark Expedition depended on for their wintertime survival.
You can see the salt making process with a visit to the Salt Makers Living History reenactment that takes place the third weekend of August. You can watch the salt making process from the Lewis and Clark era as well as visit with costumed re-enactors who set up camp for 48 hours and make salt round-the-clock, just as the Lewis and Clark Expedition members did.
Salt has been a prized natural resource throughout time. So why has it only been lately that the Oregon Coast has had a sea salt works? Ben Jacobsen, the owner and founder of Jacobsen’s Salt Company was well aware of the growing farm to table movement in Oregon and the influx of chefs destined to make their mark on the culinary landscape by establishing a reputation in Portland. Of course they needed something better to work with than ordinary table salt. They were in need of a perfectly balanced finishing salt and they were in need of a local source. There was a niche just crying out for Oregon Coast artisanal sea salt.
Ben Jacobsen traveled to several dozen locations on the Oregon and Washington coasts looking for the water that would be just right for his sea salt operation. In 2011, he decided on beautiful Netarts Bay, near Tillamook, at an old oyster farm. The oysters there have a part in the process. They help filter the water. Netarts Bay is shallow and so evaporation, and the resulting concentration of salt, is already taking place when Jacobsen’s draws the water to their small operation.
Right on the property, on the shore of the bay, the water is settled, boiled, hand sorted and packed down and dried. Packaging, and any flavoring, is handled at their Portland site. Visitors can stop by Jacobsen Salt Company after a winding scenic drive out of Tillamook, passing Cape Lookout State Park and then turning down Whiskey Creek Road
You’ll never know what stage of the process you’ll encounter. You may see employees sorting the glistening crystals of salt and hear the kettles across the courtyard boiling. You can walk down to the bay and feel the crunch of the oyster shells beneath your feet. There are no guided tours but you can pretty well figure out for yourself what’s going on. Employees are welcoming and willing to answer quick questions. Recently Jacobsen opened a little shop on the premises where you can purchase their salt products as well as locally sourced products like the canned local tuna that benefits from their fine sea salt.
As you dine in Portland and shop the local food specialty stores you will, no doubt, find Jacobsen Sea Salt products. While they are available widely through their website and even on Amazon.com, you’ll want to sample their variety of salts before you buy. And you can… they have a showroom in central east Portland. It’s open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday for the public to come and browse their full selection of culinary salts, apothecary items, salt-inspired artisan goods and salty black licorice. The address is: 602 S.E. Salmon St., Portland, OR 97214
During this holiday shopping season, you can find Jacobsen Salt Co. will be selling at Give Good Gift on Dec 6th at Union/Pine in Portland.
But for a real understanding and appreciation of this authentic Oregon Coast salt, plan a visit to their operation on Netarts Bay. You’ll come away inspired to use better ingredients in your cooking.
Tillamook Jacobsen Salt Company Operation
9810 Whiskey Creek Road, Tillamook, Oregon 97141 USA 503-334-2583
Jacobsen Salt Company Website
Visiting the Tillamook Area