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Laguna Salt: It's OK to Play With Your Food!
Laguna Salt's motto, "It's the most fun you can have playing with your food" isn't only to deter everyone from mistakening their colorful infused salts as bath salts. Lay out their handcrafted salt in the middle of the table and we bet everyone can't resist but start sprinkling them all over their food! We had a chat with our newest Laguna Beach artisan, founder Jolie Mesmer, who admits to us that she is actually not much of a cook! Find out how this ingenious mom got her kids eating vegetables and everyone thinking she's a pro in the kitchen!
What is the story behind Laguna Salt?
Five years ago, I was a stay-at-home looking for something to do. When we lived in Thousand Oaks, I would go to the farmer's market a lot to shop for infused salt. Then we moved to San Clemente and I joked with my husband, "Oh no, whom are we going to buy our salts from now?" We decided to infuse and smoke our own sea salts and introduce them to Orange County locals. It wasn't until we got into the business ourselves that we learned the vendor back at Ventura County wasn't the person making the salts! I now take pride in being one of the few companies out there who handcrafts our own instead of buying and rebranding.
What was your first encounter with infused salt?
My family and I were on vacation in Hawaii, where a lot of sea salts are harvested from. I have two young boys and they've always been very picky eaters. The restaurant we went to had a bunch of different colored salts laid out on the table and my sons started playing with them and adding them to their cucumbers. I was like, "Oh my gosh, they're eating their vegetables!" As parents, we like to give children very bland and boring food when they actually love flavors and spices!
Did you always cook a lot?Not at all! I've always been a complete novice in the kitchen, which is why I love my handcrafted salts! The beauty of using them as finishing salts is that everyone can individualize the flavor of their dishes. Infused salt also brings a lot of complexity to very simple dishes. Over the weekend, I made chocolate covered strawberries with a dash of Vanilla salt. Everyone was telling me that these were the best they've ever had, when secretly, I just dipped strawberries in plain chocolate!
What is a surprising fact about salt that most people don't know?Salt is actually good for you, depending on which kind. The table salt we eat has a lot of nutrients removed, as opposed to natural sea salt. Sea salt has a quarter of the sodium that table salt has and you only need a quarter of the amount for taste. When I used to sell at farmer's markets, I would give customers only a couple granules to sample and they can already recognize the flavor! Compared to condiments like ranch dressing, infused salt is a much healthier alternative for enhancing your food.
How do you make your handcrafted salts?
Our handcrafted salts are made from only sea salt and the infusion ingredient itself. We source our base salt from all over the world, from the Mediterranean to the Pacific Islands. They are all-natural, meaning no preservatives or anti-caking agents. I'm happy to know that I'm making something that is good for my everyone's bodies!
How do you come up with such unique flavors like Sweet Hibiscus and Kona Bean?
Talking to customers at the farmer's markets and going to different food shows help me brainstorm new infusions to experiment with. We try to keep it fresh by constantly monitoring food trends and launching new flavors. This spring, we are making a salt called The Garden, which is a jar seasoning for making guacamole. We are also coming out with some sauces, all handcrafted of course!
What are some creative ways you've heard of customers using your products?
People love making their own Bloody Mary's or magaritas and rimming their cocktails with Laguna Salt. They also enjoy adding the Kona Bean and Vanilla Sea Salt to their sweets like oatmeal and ice cream.