Ben Jacobsen of Jacobsen Salt Co.

August 18, 2013

We think every merchant we work with for Provisions is special -- but when we find one with a great story, we'll be featuring them here. Because we want to tell the world about our favorite makers. 

Today: How Ben Jacobsen of Jacobsen Salt Co. makes the best salt in the world -- and how to get your hands on some

Ben Jacobsen from Food52

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What was the first thing your mother told you to remember in the kitchen? The chances are good it was to season your food. So how can we claim to bring you the best of the best in our new shop, Provisions, if we can’t even provide you with the most basic kitchen essential? Not to worry -- our mothers taught us well enough to know that Jacobsen Salt Co. had to be one of our first merchants.


Ben Jacobsen, founder of Jacobsen Salt Co., approached salt-harvesting as a hobby even before he saw it as a business (and if that doesn’t convince you of his passion for the industry, well, we can’t help you). His company, based in Netarts Bay, Oregon, became the first to harvest salt from the Oregon Coast since Lewis and Clarke. Lewis and Clarke! 

Perhaps most importantly, he churns out salt with big, delicate flakes that we turn to every time we need to finish a dish. See how it's made below, and watch closely for our favorite part: when the salt crystals move across the water in what Ben describes as a "patternless dance."

Head to Provisions to get some of Ben's salt for yourself! 

Video shot and produced by Todd Coleman.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • BackToOrganic
  • Greenstuff
  • hardlikearmour
  • Linda Szymanski
    Linda Szymanski
  • Jacobsen Salt Co.
    Jacobsen Salt Co.

Written by: MaggieRosenthal

Pasta fiend, coffee lover, cilantro hater.


BackToOrganic August 19, 2013
I love that this salt is harvested in America and the water is refreshed each day. I am sure they taste better than most of the salts found in the market but do agree with L. Szymanski's comments on boiling the salts and depleting the mineral content. As others have said, salt is not a vitamin pill but it is a natural way to help replenish our bodies with essential minerals and elements. There are many studies estimating about 3/4 of the population is deficient in magnesium. (Blood tests are not accurate so it is hard to be more exact.) The reason I use Sel Gris and Fleur de Sel from the Guerande region in France and Himalayan Pink in my fresh herb and zest salts is they are naturally rich in magnesium and many other minerals without having the bitter taste mentioned in the video.

I agree taste is very important and Jacobsen Salts may need to pare back the magnesium and calcium to achieve a smooth tasting salt. Maybe the salts are still rich in mineral content after boiling? Ben, have you had the mineral content examined and compared your salts to the ones I mentioned above? I would love to hear more about them. They look beautiful and are on my list to try.
Greenstuff August 19, 2013
The Lewis and Clark salt works are pretty impressive (they boiled the heck out of it), and I'm glad an Oregon sea salt is now available. I haven't tried Jacobsen's salt yet, but I do have and have been impressed by one a little to the south, the Mendocino Sea Salt from the central California coast. Really nice flavor and a texture similar to Maldon. I think there's a lot for all of us to learn about artisan salts--from rock, from the deep sea, from the coast, boiled, air-dried. I'm looking forward to them all.
ghmarell August 21, 2013
I live in Oakland, Ca and I have been looking for that Medocino salt ever since I heard about it on NPR. Where do you get it?
Greenstuff August 21, 2013
The Pasta Shop in Rockridge or Local Butcher Shop in Berkeley. Other sources at

And thanks for this discussion, everyone. I've been pulling out references and learning a lot.
hardlikearmour August 19, 2013
I'm a huge fan of Jacobsen's salt, in part because it's made in Oregon, but also because it's got a lovely flakiness. Anyone interested in more info about Ben Jacobsen and his salt can read about it in the Portland Monthly May issue:
There are also several dinners being held at the Jacobsen salt factory in Tillamook, OR. They include four-course meals by some really great chefs, local wines, and a tour of the facilities.
Linda S. August 19, 2013
Yes, salt is not a vitamin pill, but natural saltwater has vital minerals, in the same proportion as are found in our blood and this not by accident. We have messed with, refined, and processed our food far too much for far too long and there is a price to pay. I'm sure Ben's salt is tasty and obviously beautiful! A lot of very hard, dedicated work goes into harvesting and creating good sea salt. I'm just saying Mother Nature has a reason for everything, and natural sea salts with over 84 minerals and trace nutrients are undoubtedly there for a reason. Artisan hand harvested salts will always be a more heathy and beautiful choice to anything mass produced to be sure, and Ben has certainly done a beautiful job! Enjoy!
Amanda H. August 19, 2013
L. Szymanski, thank you for coming to back to comment and adding more detail to your thoughts -- I'm glad you can appreciate what Ben is doing, and you clearly know a lot about salt!
Jacobsen S. August 19, 2013
Hi L. Szymanski, this is Ben Jacobsen. Yes, it's true that we pare back the calcium and magnesium to our salt, which is what gives it such a clean and briny taste that quickly washes from your mouth. There are certainly trace minerals left after our process, just less of them as you point out. Then again, if one is eating wholesome, nutritious foods, one shouldn't have to depend on our salt for trace minerals. Use our salt for a simple, affordable way to elevate each bite of food you have. I hope you enjoy it. Ben
Food52 August 19, 2013
Ben, thanks for weighing in -- we loved learning about your process in the video.
Robert B. August 18, 2013
Clearly, L. Szymanski never paid attention in chemistry class.
Linda S. August 18, 2013
Its been my findings through research that boiling salt water to obtain sea salt ruins the minerals in the salt-and also ruins the trace nutrients that are present in naturally harvested salt that is made with only the evaporation by sun and wind. Sorry- I just do not think this would have the 84 naturally occurring minerals and trance nutrients left in tact that I want from a natural sea salt. That's the whole point- of Natural and Unprocessed. Let nature do the work- not a hot, boiling stove.
nonniedb August 18, 2013
Knowing nothing about salt making, I hope to read more responses to this discussion.
Chris August 19, 2013
It's salt--not a vitamin pill.

Sassays August 19, 2013
Chris what does that mean?