Jacobsen Salt Co., Hand Harvested Pure Sea Salt, Portland, OR, Oregon, Jacobsen Sea Salt, Ben Jacobsen, Jacobsen Salt Co., Portland, OR, Oregon, Ben Jacobsen, Where to eat, Salts, What To Buy, Where to shop, Best Restaurants, Bakery, Bakeries, Grocery Stores, Markets, Salt Recs, Where to buy salt, Butter, Culinary Stores, How To Eat Salt, How To Use Salt, Tips, Advice, Kitchen Tips


Portland, OR



Jacobsen Salt Co.


Sea Salt

337 NW Broadway

Portland, OR 97209

T: 503.334.2583




Q & A

Recommended By

- Chef Jason French (Ned Ludd Restaurant in Portland, OR)

- Salt Purveyor Mark Bitterman (The Meadow in New York, NY and Portland, OR)


Photographs courtesy of Jacobsen Salt Co.

Q & A with Ben Jacobsen

Q. What was the impetus to want to harvest your own sea salt?

Ben Jacobsen

Courtesy of Jacobsen Sea Salt Co.

A.. I was living in Scandinavia and that’s where I first discovered sea salt. My girlfriend, at that time, picked up a box of salt that cost me the equivalent of ten dollars US and I thought ‘what the heck are you doing? Why are you buying salt for so much money?’

I quickly understood because it was just mind-blowing how much of a game changer it was for the entire food experience. The taste, the texture, the slight crunch that you get when you add it to finish your food, and the appearance was striking. From that point on, I brought sea salt with me wherever I went. 

When I moved back to Portland, I thought how evolved we are as a leader in the food culture here in the Northwest, but the one thing that kind of transcends the entire culinary strand, which is sea salt, wasn't being harvested here and we're sitting on some of the cleanest ocean water in the United States.

Q. Essentially, what is the trick for getting it right for you?

A.. For us, it's a balance of obtaining the right mineral content. A lot of sea salts have a bitter taste on the back part of your tongue. What we do is strip down and pare back some of those minerals that naturally occur in seawater, typically calcium and magnesium. What we’re left with is a very clean, pure briny taste, without the astringent aftertaste. We do get this slight narrow tang, but it’s not one that leaves your mouth and tongue puckering looking for a glass of water.

We’ve worked really hard to perfect the crystal structures, so the appearance on the food is beautiful and each crystal is completely different from the next. At the same time, you get a nice textural difference.

Q. How hard is it to do this? Is it a difficult process?

A.. It’s kind of a mix of arts and science. It’s taken two years or so to perfect the process. We filter the water, then we boil it to remove the calcium and the magnesium. We let it slowly evaporate to get that really nice crystal structure. We can go the route of the crystals having structural integrity, but at the same time you run the risk of salt becoming more of the focus of the food, rather than the salt just kind of letting the food speak for itself and being there to bring out the flavor. 

I’d rather air on the side of a more minimalist approach and let the food do the talking and have your salt as a complement, rather than completely distract the eye.

Q. Are there any local Portland chefs using your sea salt?

A.. Yes, we've got a little more than a dozen chefs in town using it. Jason French from Ned Ludd, Greg Gourdet from Departure, Vitaly Paley of Paley’s Place, Dolan Lane of Clarklewis, and David Anderson at Genoa, to name a few.


Tips & Advice

Good Salt

Kosher salt is horrible. After you've had great sea salt it just makes me cringe. It’s industrially processed and has a nasty chemical bitter aftertaste.

I think that we're kind of in an awakening period when it comes to great salts. Within the last decade, consumers have really come to appreciate great fresh ingredients and will pay a premium for the best fruits and vegetables, chickens and grass-fed beef, but the one thing that kind of ties everything together, which is salt, has been overlooked. If you're going to invest in the highest quality ingredients, make sure that you have great salt to bring everything together, because otherwise it's kind of all for naught.

Storing Salt

Store it in the pantry in a cool dark place, with low humidity. We also keep our salt in an open, non-air tight container on the table where it's accessible. I think a little humidity on salt is nice. I don’t love a bone dry salt.

Don’t Refrigerate Salt

It dries out. It also takes on odors of other products around it, so if you've got whatever you keep in the fridge, like buttermilk or leftovers, it takes that on.

Grilling Tip

Spray sea water (salt water) on the grill before cooking, it extracts the moisture and enables a nice char surface. The food will turn out great.

Best Way To Use Salt?

Incredibly simple. The best baguette you can find, the best unsalted butter you can find, which around here is Rose Valley Butter or Zupan's Market also has a really great heavy cream butter, and generously spread the butter on the baguette and sprinkle just a tiny bit of salt on top and enjoy it.

Baguettes from Grand Central Bakery

Photographs courtesy of Grand Central Bakery

Baguettes | Grand Central Bakery

It’s one of my favorites. The baguette has a nice crusty crust, nice chewy kind of yeasty bread inside and a little bit of aeration. But it's not a big air pocket. It's just the perfect combination.

[See details.]

Butter | Rose Valley Butter

It's a local creamery and their butter is just incredibly rich and creamy. It seems to be a little bit more heavy cream than other butters. It comes from right down the road from us, which is great. I'm a fan of all things local, but only if it's of the best quality.

[See details.]

Butter | Zupan’s

I's a local grocery store here and they've got incredible French-style butter. It's a rough kind of un-molded butter, so it's not one that comes in the traditional sticks. It's just a really nice easy-to-spread, super rich creamy butter.

[See details.]


Salt Purveyors Recs

Find | Salt

Alaska Pure Sea Salt Company

It’s a small operation in Alaska and I think they're doing just some really nice salts.

The Meadow’s Guatemalan Fleur de Sel

I like their Guatemalan Fleur de Sel. It’s got a beautiful light kind of fun texture. It's not typically a finishing salt. I use it in salad dressings and when cooking in place of kosher salt.

Maldon Sea Salt

I think it’s a great salt.


It’s a great sea salt. from Italy and it has a really bright flavor and a fairly low mineral quality.

[See details.]


Salt Purveyors Recs | Portland, OR

Find | Food Stores & Markets

Grand Central Bakery

For baguettes.

Cheeses at Pastaworks

Photograph courtesy of Pastaworks


It’s like a culinary amusement park. They've just got all the great things that you love about food, wine, and beer. It’s fun to go in there. I picked up some great butter from Vermont with sea salt in it. And it was just awesome.

The Meadow

For salts.

Zupan’s Market

Local grocery with incredible French-style butter.

[See details.]

Chorizo Navarre & Smoked Kielbasa from Olympic Provisions

Photographs courtesy of Olympic Provisions

Eat | Restaurant & Food Purveyor

Olympic Provisions

For really great charcuterie.

[See details.]


Details of Ben Jacobsen’s recommendations for salt and where to shop in Portland, OR.

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