Netarts Bay unearthed a treasure for Ben Jacobsen, founder and self-taught salt maker of Jacobsen Salt Co. Growing up on the east coast and later spending time in Denmark and Norway, Jacobsen fell in love with “good salt” during his travels abroad in Scandinavia. Returning to the states, and settling in the Pacific Northwest, Jacobsen was determined to find a way to produce quality salt in the coastal nation.
His story is truly unique. Jacobsen was the first to harvest sea salt in the Pacific Northwest since the days of Lewis and Clark. After years of trial and error and testing the waters in both Oregon and Washington, Jacobsen discovered the ideal, nuanced waters of Netarts Bay. Netarts, a protected estuary and far and away the cleanest bay along the western coast of the United States due to the population of oysters found in the bay working as filters to the water each and every day, would become home to Jacobsen Salt Co.
Jacobsen and his salt proved to be more than a staple to be used in many kitchens. After a quick demonstration to a local grocer of a tomato slice topped with his crunchy, briny, mouth-watering finishing salt they were hooked. Local chefs like Justin Wills (Restaurant Beck) and Jason French (Ned Ludd, Elder Hall) were also early cheerleaders and users of Jacobsen’s salt. Today, restaurant kitchens across the United States, chefs (such as Thomas Keller, Renee Erickson, and Chris Consentino), retailers, and a myriad of unique food products include Jacobsen Salt Co. in their dishes and on their shelves. Jacobsen’s salt quickly has become ubiquitous with enhancing how food tastes in the simplest form.
The process at Jacobsen is entirely handcrafted, all the way down to the individual stamping for all bags of salt. The level of care and thought is reflected in their story. Each crystal is harvested, hand-sorted, and hand-packed. In a time of growth, Jacobsen doesn’t lose his determination to keep his salt approachable and not at all intimidating. According to Jacobsen the end result is just as basic, “making a product so simple and for people to taste and to see their reaction…” is something in which he revels.
Jacobsen Salt Co. in its short existence built a community and culture through its salt with the simplicity of texture, taste, and quality. The focus of Jacobsen is to positively affect how people eat every day, in their homes and in restaurants.
Jacobsen Salt Co. Tasting Room
602 SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214