It’s a long time since we visited Anglesey. It is such a lovely place, I had forgotten its charms, the puffins, the scenery and the beaches. One of the little jewels in its crown is Halen Môn (Anglesey Sea Salt) in Brynsiencyn. We had the privilege of visiting the new £1.25 million saltcote and take the popular behind-the-scenes tour. The tour runs every day at 11am, 1pm and 3pm.
Salt, like bread, is the staff of life. At Halen Môn they pride themselves on producing the purest sea salt you can buy. Halen Môn salt is the brainchild of husband and wife entrepreneur team Alison and David Lea-Wilson. They were already responsible for a successful seafood business and the Anglesey Sea Zoo (next door in Brynsiencyn). They were seeking a new enterprise and saw a niche in the food market for gourmet salt. The shop adjoining the factory in Anglesey sells a huge array of their products, which not only includes salt but also smoked water, sauces, honey and gifts.
The Halen Môn range has 10 salts, including one smoked over oak chips, one infused with vanilla, an Unami salt spice mixture and one made with charcoal.
In 1996, after boiling a pan of water from the Menai Strait on their Aga until it formed crystals, Halen Môn was born. By 2018 the salt has come a long way. It now has PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status, is sold across 20 countries and is favoured by celebrity chefs such as Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adrià. You can buy it in all the top stores such as Harvey Nic’s, Fortnum & Mason, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer as well as superior deli’s. To cut a long story short, it is incredibly successful and has created one of the top food brands in the UK. Apparently, the secret is the incredibly clean sea water of the Menai Strait (and the secret purification).
The tour began with a high vis jacket for Health and Safety. This was followed by a video of the history of Halen Môn Sea Salt. They are very proud of their heritage and justly so. We were then shown the centre of the process. This is the salt pan area where filtered sea water is evaporated by hot air dryers to produce crystalline salt.
Every day a pipeline takes fresh seawater from the Menai Strait into the factory. Here. after filtering through sand and charcoal, the water is heated to create a concentrated brine. This is left in shallow salt pans, where crystals form and sink to the bottom. Each morning, the salt flakes are carefully harvested using large shovels. The salt crystals are then washed in a cold saturated brine process to remove any unwanted carbonates. When the crystals are dried for the final time they produce a flaky crystal sea salt, which sparkles like newly fallen snow.
The pure salt exudes purity and quality. We were then shown the packaging and weighing room, and finally the warehousing area. Although a relatively small operation, the warehouse showed the extent of the products and exports Halen Môn are responsible for. The final part of the tour was tasting.
We were asked to compare different salts. It was quite interesting to try their spiced salt and their smoked salt. The tour ended with us being given a little pot of Halen Môn sea salt to take away. And a bottle of water to keep us hydrated!
Our guide was very friendly and able to answer all of our questions, as well as making the tour interesting for the children. I recommend the behind-the-scenes tour for anyone interested in the origin of culinary salt. It covers the history, culture, food and what makes Halen Môn Sea Salt the world’s finest. The expert guided tour lasts approximately 50 minutes. It would be nice if they had a coffee shop as well; (they are really missing a trick considering the number of visitors around when we were there!) Fabulous visit – beautiful views across the Menai Strait. Highly recommended x