The Year In Food » Fine Seasonal Eating

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A tangle of seaweed

Making my own sea salt is something I’ve long been interested in trying. But it’s not exactly practical. First, you have to do a little research to figure out whether or not the seawater you’ll be collecting is clean. Then, you trudge a large quantity of (very heavy) vessels from the beach. Next, you’ll boil down the water over the course of a few hours. And from all that you’ll get a handful of your very own sea salt.



Collecting salt water to make sea salt

But there are a lot of reasons to do it. It’s an opportunity to spend an afternoon at the beach, which alone merits the effort. You may luck out and run into a harem of elk making their way across an empty road. And you will, no doubt, be rather proud of your efforts, humble as they are.

If you do choose to make your own sea salt, use it as a finishing salt at the end of your preparation so that you can highlight its unique qualities. Desserts that call for fleur de sel would be perfect. As would any vegetable that does well with a simple pan fry, and I can think of no better vehicle than padron peppers. These little suckers are addictive. One in every ten or so is spicy, and that’s part of the fun. The rest possess a mild green pepper flavor and are the perfect cocktail snack or small party appetizer.

Padron Peppers with sea salt

This Padron Peppers with Sea Salt recipe is part of the September Seasonal Food Guide

Serves 2-4 as an appetizer

1/2 pound padron peppers, rinsed
sea salt
olive oil

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high. When the pan is hot, add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Toss in the padron peppers and stir to coat evenly with oil. Let them roast and pop, turning occasionally, until skin is darkened and blistered, about 7-10 minutes.

Remove from heat and finish with a generous sprinkle of sea salt. Serve immediately.


1. Research beaches – avoid those that have recurring issues with water pollution or bacteria. It’s also best to avoid beaches with dangerous rip currents since you’ll have to wade out a couple feet to collect water.

2. Bring a collection of large vessels with you to collect water. Gallon milk containers (thoroughly cleaned!) are great.

3. Bring a picnic to the beach.

4. Wade out a couple feet, sumberge your container, and fill as much as you can. Bring home at least a gallon.

5. Strain the water through multiple layers of cheesecloth to remove all debris.

6. Simmer over a medium-low heat until nearly all of the water is evaporated.

7. Scrape into a glass jar or salt cellar, and enjoy.

  • la domestique - Love the simplicity of this dish and the pictures from your sea salt adventure!ReplyCancel

  • Kasey - So cool, Kimberley! And p.s we have been eating padron peppers every week! They are the perfect thing to nibble on before dinner :)ReplyCancel

  • NicoleD - You are simply the coolest.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth @ Saffron Lane - It seems a lot of people are making their own salt these days (for very good reason)! Kasey and I are on a similar wavelength — padron peppers are on constant rotation in my house, too. Great photos (and adventures), per usual!ReplyCancel

  • kate - radical!!! the shot of the elk is really beautiful, too.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah - I have always, always wanted to do this, but never did the legwork to find out how to do it safely…looks like you did for me :) And I will echo that the “harem of elk” shot is stunning.ReplyCancel

  • rachaeltamar - What beach did you go to? And where did you do your research? I started to look, but am intimidated by trudging through all that came up! I live in SF and imagine there must be some nearby….

    Thanks! Love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Jacky - Incredible! I am headed to the Ocean for a visit this weekend, I wish I could give this a try.ReplyCancel

  • Natalie A - 1) I’ve never heard of those peppers but I sure do want to eat them now
    2) I live in Ohio and the thought of making my own sea salt has never even breached my mind as a possibility, meaning the possibility that it is done. If I lived by a nice beach, I’d think about it too. Your sea is my corn field. Beautiful pictures, and the elk, oh my.ReplyCancel

  • jason mcleod - My favorite peppers, so perfect with just a little sea salt…Beautiful picture of the Elk.ReplyCancel

  • Lynda - I’ve wanted to try this up in Mendocino.
    Those padrons are beautiful. I wish I had some right now.ReplyCancel

  • Laurel - How fun! This sounds like a great afternoon adventure and teaching experience. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Heather @opgastronomia - This is such a great post! I love padrons. And now you’re my hero for making your own sea salt.ReplyCancel

  • kankana - That is excellent work! Just few days back I saw another blogger who made sea salt at home. It sounds so much fun! and those peppers .. boy am drooling. I love spicy all the time.ReplyCancel

  • Ashley - yay! Hooray for making salt. Now I’m a little sad that we didn’t happen upon Elk during our salt making adventures. At least I have your gorgeous picture to stare at longingly. Lovely post, Kimberley.ReplyCancel

  • terri - How is it that I have never thought to make my own sea salt? I sit here everyday looking out to the Sound and see the sail boats, fishing boats, cruise ships, and ferrys, but never once thought about salt. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food - You Go Girl! I’m so proud of you for doing that. I’ve been collecting other people’s efforts for years (we probably have five or six bags of various sea salts in our cabinet) but have yet to do it myself.

    And these peppers… what a wonderful way to showcase all your hard work. Though, I must admit, I’m very interested in sprinkling some on top of a chocolate cake or even to finish off some ice cream with caramel sauce.ReplyCancel

  • SG - so rad. the shot of the elk (i didn’t know a group was called a harem) is beautiful as is this entire post and process.ReplyCancel

  • Julie at Burnt Carrots - Congrats!! I never would have thought to make my own sea salt but what a great idea! Next time I’m near a coastline, I’ll be giving it a shot. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Laken - What an amazing post :) I love it. And am wishing there was an ocean nearby.ReplyCancel

  • Tricia - I love it. So simple and playful, with a delicious (and intriguing!) end result. So so good, Kimberly :) you are the best.ReplyCancel

  • leela - kimberly, i love this post – and the image of the elk crossing the road is STUNNING!!

    come back to portland so we can play some more.

    xx LReplyCancel

  • caitlin @ thesubletkitchen - gorgeous gorgeous photography here. love it from start to finish.ReplyCancel

  • Yuki - Hi,

    I admire the ambition! I have never tried this but I do use a lot of sea salt, I keep a jar mixed with water by the hob.

    Best wishes,


  • Maria - This is so interesting and something I’d love to try doing. The photo of those elk brings back a lot of memories from Finland :-) Great recipe Kimberly! xReplyCancel

  • Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake - Wow, Kimberly! This is awesome. I would love to try this sometime. Love the simplicity of these peppers, and your photos are gorgeous as usual.ReplyCancel

  • Carroll@ Vanilla Lemonade - Lovely! I love the sea salt tutorial!ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - Your own sea salt? Amazing. I’m especially in love with the seemingly giant seaweed balls strewn about the shore–gorgeous images.ReplyCancel

  • emanuela rota - beautiful photos of the elk…!!!ReplyCancel

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