In the newest blog series “meet the producers”, I spoke to Maebh from Achill sea salt about the challenges and rewards of working for yourself. If you’d like to learn more, you can find them on Facebook here.
How did you initially become involved in producing sea salt?
We began producing sea salt in July 2013 in our family kitchen after watching a documentary on the production of sea salt in the UK. After a lot of research we realised that salt had been produced on the island up until the 1800s and this inspired us to revive the tradition on the island.
Where do you produce your product- are there many of you involved in the business?
In September 2016 we moved to a custom built facility on Achill Island, which has allowed us to substantially increase our production capacity. We are still a family business and currently have two full time Employees. Seán my brother produces the sea salt and I am involved in the sales and marketing side of the business.
Can you tell me a bit about the salt making process?
Once the water is collected we evaporate it in a shallow pan over heat. After a number of hours the salt crystals begin to form on the top and are then gathered and dried in an oven.
What is the difference between Achill Island Sea Salt and regular table salt?
Regular table salt is 100% sodium chloride and often contains chemicals such as anti-caking agents. This is to ensure that it flows freely. Sea Salt on the other hand is naturally produced and contains over 60 trace elements including potassium, iron and zinc. It also has a stronger flavour so you do not have to use as much. Achill Island Sea Salt is a soft flaky sea salt that breaks down easily onto food. This is due to the combination of the fresh water that flows from the mountains and the seawater surrounding Achill.
What would you consider your most important core value of the business?
One of our core values of our business is to create a sustainable product from Achill Island, whilst making the most of what our surroundings have to offer.
As a small business, can it be difficult to balance everything?
Yes it can be very difficult to balance all aspects of the business and you can find yourself doing everything at once but I think because we are a family business we know how to work together and what each others strengths and weaknesses are. One of the hardest parts is trying to split your time between every area of the business but we hope to take on additional staff in the coming months to help with production so hopefully things will become an easier!
What is your favourite thing about your job?
We regularly attend trade fairs and food festivals and this is my favourite part of the job. There is always such a good buzz and all the other food producers are so friendly. It’s lovely to be able to get out and meet our customers and tell them about the product. Another favourite part of the job is the salt production. I love seeing the salt crystals form as the water slowly evaporates. Scooping off the crystals is really satisfying!