A peerie grain of time with Kaye Sandison from Shetland Salt
Renowned for its distinctive taste, ‘Shetland Salt’ is a small family business that produce handmade salt from the pristine, nutrient-rich seawater off the shores of Shetland. The company is run by Kaye and Davie Sandison, alongside their daughter Laura Hughes.
We are producing a completely natural product from Shetland – it is totally unique to the area as you couldn’t achieve the same lovely taste or flavour anywhere else.
They have recently become finalists in the Great British Food Awards and are members of Taste of Shetland. We were delighted to speak to Kaye Sandison to find out more about their journey.
Q. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and Shetland Salt?
I would always visit agricultural shows with my husband and wherever we went, there was always a local salt stand. Local salts are very distinctive to their area, and I always wondered why no one was making Shetland sea salt when we have the most beautiful pristine waters on our doorstep. I went on about it so much that my family begged me to stop talking about it and just do it myself – so I did!
Q. How do you make Shetland Salt?
The first step was finding the right area to collect the seawater. We located a spot near Burra where the water is incredibly clean and high in salinity. We have a local fisherman who collects the water for us and brings it to our house where we operate our business from. The seawater is filtered twice to ensure it is really clean, before boiling it down to a brine.
Our trick to getting perfect flakes is by placing the brine underneath heat lamps which form pure salt crystals on the surface of the water. We then scoop the crystals up before drying and packaging them by hand.
My daughter and I spent a few months to perfect the flakes and our technique. We experimented a lot with different timings with the brine and heat lamps. We believe these efforts contributed to us winning two stars with the Great Taste Awards by The Guild of Fine Foods.
Q. Do you have a favourite recipe using Shetland Salt?
I do! I put a layer of fennel in a roasting dish, and I place any kind of white fish on top. Then, I sprinkle with Shetland Salt and add halved black olives, cherry tomatoes and anchovies on top. I add another layer of fennel and Shetland Salt before baking in the oven for 20 minutes. It is really delicious and so simple to make.
Q. What are the most rewarding and challenging aspects of the industry?
The most rewarding thing for us is our customer feedback – we are fortunate as we have always had really positive responses from our customers. It is also really rewarding knowing we are producing a completely natural product from Shetland. It is totally unique to the area as you couldn’t achieve the same lovely taste or flavour anywhere else.
The most challenging aspect for us is the weather – if the weather is really poor then our fisherman cannot sail offshore to collect the water. Like many others, rising energy bills is also becoming a challenge for us as we require a lot of energy to make our sea salt.
Q. Where can I buy Shetland Salt?
We currently sell our product to many suppliers across Shetland. You can find our product at; Sound Service Station, Sound Butchers, Scalloway Meat Co. Ltd, Mainland’s Mini Market, Bigton Community Shop, Eid Community Co-op, Walls Shop, Tetley and Anderson, Island Larder, The Cake Fridge, The Bixter Shop, Mackenzie’s Farm Shop and SCOOP Wholefoods.
We are also in the process of redeveloping our entire website (http://www.shetlandsalt.co.uk). Once it is fully up and running, customers will be able to purchase our products directly from the website.
Q. Do you have any new products on the horizon?
At the moment, we have developed two flavours – original salt and smoked salt. Sadly, our smoking machine broke, and we are still experimenting with new techniques to achieve the same flavour. We hope our smoked salt will be available again soon because we know how much our customers loved it. However, we are trialing new flavours and we hope to further expand our range very soon.
A marketing student born and raised in Aberdeen with an admiration of the Scottish isles, desire to travel and see the world, a superior taste in music, enjoys cooking and socialising with family and friends.