It all started at boredom… Jethro was reading about the history of Portland when he ‘stumbled across’ an article about the old sea salt production and how Dorset used to produce it all around the Jurassic Coast. Years, and multiple jerry cans full of sea water later, Jehtro has successfully put Portland back on the map as being the source of one of the yummiest sea salt producers in the world.
00:00:00 Marks Introduction
00:02:13 Meeting Jethro, setting the scene on the Isle of Portland
00:03:28 Why Salt? What triggered Jethro to get into it?
- 00:05:19 “I was looking for things to do, because I was that bored, and I ended up reading about local history around Portland and Dorset and I stumbled across and article that was about sea salt production in Portland and how they use to produce it back in the Roman and Saxon times.”
- 00:06:51 “I started doing it as a bit of a weird hobby.”
00:07:03 Researching & starting to collect salt
- 00:08:27 “I started boiling seawater down at my parents’ house… I remember telling a few mates what I was up to and them sort of being like: ‘Have you lost the plot?’”
00:09:32 Is it hard to make salt? What were Jethro’s first batches like?
- 00:09:58 “In theory, it’s not rocket science. But there are different variables as I discovered later down the line – to make a lovely textured, flake salt.”
00:10:13 How long did it take to perfect the salt? – 9 months of fine tuning and experimenting
- 00:11:40 “I’m not gonna lie, there were times where it was frustrating but at the same time it was exciting, I liked the challenge and I could see something at the end of it.”
00:12:52 Had Jethro had any experience in owning a business before? Having a history of self-employed, entrepreneurial family
00:13:38 Going to the Princess Trust to help start up a business
- 00:15:08 “So you go, you enrol on a course… And then they assign you a business mentor (a volunteer to the Princess Trust who’s worked in business all their life) to help you create a water-tight business plan, do all your market research, look at suppliers – all of that kind of jazz… It took me about another 12 months with my business mentor to finalise this business plan.”
00:18:17 What was Jethro doing during the time of building a business plan?
- 00:19:59 “Again, it’s things like that, when people in privileged positions are looking to give back and help people that are starting up, it’s another example of how that’s really aided the Dorset Sea Salt company.”
00:20:29 The helpful and kind attitude that exists in the hospitality industry
00:21:27 Launching the Dorset Sea Salt business – selling to other small businesses
- 00:22:03 “I remember getting our first stockers – and it was mind blowing for me. Actually seeing in a shop on a shelf was incredible.”
00:23:03 Salt isn’t just salt – what is the difference?
- 00:23:26 “First and foremost, sea salt as a product, as an ingredient – it’s a game changer in terms of flavour. It really is a must in a commercial kitchen or at home in your cupboard.”
- 00:25:26 “Some might be a bit minerally, if that’s a word, or some might be stronger. I’d say that our sea salt is a bit stronger than others on the market. Others might be a bit more balanced – so it sounds strange talking about it…”
00:26:54 Where does normal, table salt come from? Chatting about the other end of the market
- 00:27:35 “In that table salt, it won’t be unrefined. It won’t be natural. IT will have sort of anti-caking agents in it… I guess it’s cheaper to produce that way for the mass market… But I’m not sure why they have to ruin a perfectly natural product.”
00:29:09 The history of sea salt – it used to be produced all around the coast, and why have most of those gone?
00:31:21 What made Jethro believe he could step into a market and create a successful brand?
- 00:31:51 “It really affected me why it had died out in Portland and in Dorset. Because Dorset is a county, the lifestyle people associate with Dorset as a brand is probably the best in the UK. If you want to produce an 100% natural, pure, clean product – where better to produce it than the Jurassic coast?”
- 00:32:40 Does Jethro think the Dorset brand & provenance of the product helps with sales?
00:33:29 Does Dorset Sea Salt export outside of Dorset?
00:34:50 The growing process of creating salt from the water of the Jurassic Coast – taking eight days to create a batch
- 00:37:37 “We’d rinse it in a higher concentrated brine so the salt wouldn’t dissolve again. We rinse it in a higher concentrated brine because there’s a magnesium build up, so you want to get rid of the magnesium just because its taste is real bitter. It’s like a chalky white residue.”
- 00:38:54 “The general rule of thumb is: a pint of sea water is a pinch of salt.”
00:39:20 Going from transporting sea water in jerry cans, to using a pipeline used by aquariums
- 00:40:30 “It’s a sign that the water round here is of enormous quality, if people are risking their whole businesses…”
00:41:15 When the water is being filtered before the salt is made… what exactly is Jethro filtering out?
00:42:12 Chatting sustainability – how has Jethro tried to ensure his business, that uses lots of energy, is as eco-friendly as it can be?
- 00:44:41 “I think the food industry in general uses too much [energy], never mind just sea salt. We are different in terms of competitors in that we do use renewable energy and everything we do packaging wise is plastic free.”
00:46:36 Is there room for Dorset Sea Salt to grow?
- 00:47:21 “It’s actually a bit of a family operation now – I work with my brother, my sister and my dad helps out too. So there’s four of us working full time on it.”
00:49:24 The different flavours of sea salt – Jethro’s favourite part of the job
- 00:50:12 “At the moment we’ve got 9 flavours on the retails range. For example, we’ve got a and apple sea salt, which is like electric pink which looks great around the rim of a margarita or a cocktail… Could be to finish a nice chocolate brownie.”
00:51:37 From the two years Jethro’s been creating salt, what would he do differently looking back?
- 00:52:58 “One thing I find really important, and I’d tell anybody: I think a lot of people get worried about asking ‘stupid’ questions at the fear of looking dim or naive or silly. But it doesn’t matter – I’m now used to it, looking like a wally.”
00:53:42 What’s Jethro’s favourite bit about what he does now?
- 00:54:57 “It’s a good thing to surround yourself with people who are good at things that you’re not!”
00:55:05 Where can you find out more & buy some Dorset Sea Salt for yourself?
00:56:27 Marks final thoughts, sign off
If you’d like to learn more about Jethro, Dorset Sea Salt and how it came to be used around the UK… Check out their website and social channels below, or listen to the full episode here.