For Christmas this year, my son gave me a box. The packaging bore an engraving of a beautiful Icelandic mermaid. Inside was a packet of glistening and sparkling pink gems – rhubarb sea salt. Of course I had to find out who produced it and how it was conceived.
Søren Rosenkilde is a Danish entrepreneur and architect from Aarhus school of Architecture. The crown jewel of his architectural and entrepreneurial career is the Norður & Co’s sea salt production facility. Below he tells us how he became involved and why Icelandic sea salt is so special.
I grew up on a farm in Southern Denmark so at an early age I had already became interested in how natural food products were made. I learned about how every little detail counts in the process and that you can actually taste the difference which results from hard work and a sustainable approach.
While studying architecture in Aarhus in Denmark, I met my Icelandic friend Garðar who shared my passion for high quality food products. Together we founded Norður & Co., the company behind Norður Salt.
Our philosophy is that sustainable, high quality food products should be affordable and accessible.Our sustainable Danish/Icelandic method was first tried out in 1753 in the same place we make Norður Salt today. The Arctic seawater is pumped into open pans where geothermal energy is used to slowly heat and evaporate the water. The salt flakes grow as upside-down pyramids and when they reach a certain size they fall to the bottom. We carefully hand-harvest the salt flakes to ensure the right texture and crispiness. The salt is left to drain for several hours before finally drying it using geothermal heating. All the energy we use comes from the local hot spring in Reykhólar.
You may wonder what is so special about sea salt flakes. It is no easy thing to produce them and it takes a lot of practice to get the flakes just right. If the salt is coarse it does not dissolve as easily in your cooking and may leave you with a few, very salty bits. We choose to make flakes because of the usability and how texture influences the taste experience. You want the salt flakes to be medium sized so they are easy to crush with your fingers. This way you can decide whether you want to keep the flakes as decoration or crunch them into smaller pieces. If the flakes are too big they become difficult to work with.
Our flavoured salts were developed with our Icelandic heritage in mind. Both rhubarb and blueberry are native to Iceland and are commonly used in Icelanders’ kitchens. These salts were developed together with our partner, Urta Islandica. We recommend using them with game or in salads and desserts. In general this salt gives a fun and colourful twist to any dish.
It is no coincidence that Norður Salt is located on Karlsey in Breiðafjörður in the Icelandic West Fjords. Besides being a nature reserve, it is a spectacular land and seascape with shallow waters, small fjords and a myriad of reefs. Breiðafjörður has up to six meters in difference between high and low tides. The flow of water creates the bay’s extensive algal forest and biodiversity, which contributes to our salt’s mineral content. This is also due to the location by the Arctic Sea and the salt is thus naturally low in sodium (90.50% NaCl) and high in trace minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, etc. The combination of our sustainable processes and the mineral content of our salt flakes is what creates this unique and fresh taste of Norður Salt. For more information on the mineral content of the salt, follow this link.
You can buy the salt from:
I asked Søren about the beautiful packaging and he told me it was developed with an Icelandic design company, Jonsson and Le’Macks, you can see a video about it here: