Dave Burris does not lack for ideas — or ambition. He’s been a Realtor, restaurateur and publisher. Most recently, he was the chief of staff for the Delaware Senate Minority Caucus.
For his latest venture, the Lewes resident is looking in his backyard — so to speak. If all goes as planned, he will launch Henlopen Sea Salt in late October or early November.
Artisanal salts are nothing new. Fleur de sel, Maldon and Himalayan salts have been on chefs’ radars for some time. But, lately, the gourmet salt market has exploded.
Burris, however, said he has an advantage in a crowded marketplace.
“You can easily buy sea salt in a jar from large corporations that make it by pushing it around with a bulldozer and stacking it high,” said the Lewes resident, a co-founder of Milford Live, a sister news site. “But you can’t get a sea salt made from local waters just anywhere.”
Burris harvests his seawater from coastal Delaware waters around Lewes. Like many gourmet salt-makers, he’s promoting the concept of terroir — only as it applies to the sea.
Terroir refers to the environmental factors that give a distinct flavor to a product grown in a particular area. Wine, cheese, coffee and chocolate beans are all influenced by the soil and climate, for instance.
Henlopen Sea Salt will appeal to those who like to buy local and tourists who want a unique souvenir, Burris added.
Burris first attempted to make salt in 2012. “My first batch was pretty bad,” he admitted. “It was fine and gray. It wasn’t flaky.
He kept tweaking the time and boiling temperature, until he got to the point he could keep a stash in his kitchen and give some as gifts. “It has a nice delicate flavor,” he said. “It’s come a long way.”
He plans to offer a 100% local sea salt and up to six specialty blends, including a salt smoked with whisky barrels and cherrywood. He also makes sazón, a Puerto Rican seasoning blend, and a steak salt made with cracked black pepper, organic roasted garlic flakes and smoked salt.
Burris will primarily sell his products online and may organize some popups. For now, he wants to have enough product to sell.
“It’s time-consuming to make,” he noted. “For a gallon of water, you get maybe 3 ounces of salt.
He will ramp up the business in time for the Christmas season. Says Burris, “It’s a good present for people who come to the beach and love the beach — you can literally give a little piece of it to others.”