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Harvesting Hawaiian Sea Salt in the beds near Salt Pond Beach, Hanapepe, Kauai

hanapepe sea salt

The Hanapepe Salt Pond area has been used since ancient times for the production of salt for food seasoning and preservation.

Every summer, the families of this region gather to build their “pans” to prepare salt for the next year. The earthen pans impart a distinct red hue and flavor to the salt.

Pa‘akai (sea salt or, literally, “to solidify the sea”) from the Hanapepe Salt Ponds is created by accessing underground saltwater from a deep ancient source through wells and transferring the saltwater to shallow pools called wai kū, then into salt pans that are shaped carefully with clay from the area.

The farms near Hanapepe are one of only two remaining major areas in the Islands where natural sea salt is still harvested; the other spot is on the Big Island at Pu‘uhonua o Honaunau.

But the unique red salt, called ‘alaea salt, is produced only on Kaua‘i.

This type of salt-making is unique and authentic, and harvested traditional Hawaiian sea salt mixed with ‘alaea, a form of red dirt from Wailua, is used for traditional Hawaiian ceremonies to cleanse, purify and bless, as well as healing rituals for medicinal purposes.

It was a crucial commodity for Hawai‘i’s early post-contact economy; visiting ships, especially the whaling ships, needed the salt for food preservation.

Today, the Hanapepe fields operate under that concept of communal stewardship; the salt may be given or traded, but not sold.

The harvest season is in the height of summer, when the waves are calm and rain scarce.

The first task in making salt is to work on maintaining the salt beds, smoothing wet mud over the walls of the beds, filling cracks and reinforcing the structure of these holding beds; this can take up to a week.

The punawai (feed water wells) are cleaned of leaves and debris, so that only the purest sea water enters the rectangular holding tanks called wai kū, literally “water standing.”

The brine is left in the wai kū to evaporate, which can take up to ten days depending on the afternoon rains.

When the water in the wai kū turns frothy white and crystals form on its surface, the harvester gently pours it into the lo‘i.

For several weeks, a rotation of new water, sunshine and evaporation continues until a slushy layer of snow-white salt forms.

The salt is harvest by slowly and carefully raking the large, flat crystalline flakes of salt from the base of the bed, and transferring them to a basket.

The salt is then dipped in buckets of fresh water to rinse off the mud, and remove rocks, chunks of dirt and other debris.

With each immersion into the water, the salt flakes change shape, beginning to resemble large grains of what one would recognize as table salt. The salt is drained and left to dry in the sun for four to six weeks.

Depending on conditions, a family may complete three harvests in a season, yielding as much as 200 pounds of salt. Like wine, time is generous to salt; it mellows and gains character as it ages (older salt is smoother.)

Salty Wahine Gourmet Hawaiian Sea Salts

Bright Delicious Rim for your Cocktails
Made from Natural Pacific sea salt and premium Hawaiian sea salt
Natural Spices and Flavourings

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Price: $14.95

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What is Hawaiian Red Alaea Sea Salt?

Alaea red sea salt is an unrefined sea salt that has been mixed with a red alae volcanic clay. It gets its color from the particles of volcanic red clay. Traditional Hawaiian red alaea sea salt gets its name and color from the native volcanic clay with which many Hawaiians lined their salt ponds. It gets the rust-colored hue due to the clay that was absorbed during the production process, as salt was harvested in the natural evaporation occurring within the ponds.

Alaea red sea salt is used in Hawaii to cleanse, purify and bless canoes, homes and temples. Alaea salt is also used in several traditional Hawaiian dishes such as Kalua Pig, Hawaiian Jerky and Poke.

Hawaiian red alaea red salt has a distinct, robust flavor, which makes it a valued ingredient in cooking.

Hawaiian Pa’Akai Inc, Alaea Sea Salt Medium Grains, 16 oz

Traditional Hawaiian Red Salt
Medium Grains
Perfect for seasoning meats, fish, and chicken

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Price: $8.99

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Caravel Gourmet Hawaiian Alaea Red Sea Salt

This solar-evaporated sea salt is harvested from south Pacific waters
Infused with baked Alaea Clay, giving it both its distinctive bright red color and numerous health benefits
Traditionally used as a rub on Pork for Luaus, it is also great on vegetables, any meat, and potatoes

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Price: $13.99 $9.87

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Making Hawaiian Sea Salt

hawaiian sea salt

Kona Sea Salt on the big island of Hawaii explains the making of their Hawaiian sea salt:

Kona Sea SaltTM is entirely hand tended, from the moment our deep seawater arrives on-site, until your order of this unique, gourmet sea salt is delivered to your door step.
The salt is hand-harvested after our unique deep seawater naturally evaporates, in about three weeks. Unhurried evaporation within our closed drying system under the bright Hawaiian sun provides ideal conditions for the characteristic, pure white Kona Sea SaltTM crystals to form. They are gently scooped into buckets, and wheeled to covered wooden hoppers; here, any remaining moisture drains from the salt. This liquid is a concentrated brine called nigari*, or bitterns, and we collect it at this time.
Our salt is hand-cleaned with forceps and patience to exacting standards, then packed into 10kg bags for wholesale.
Kona Sea SaltTM destined for our retail product line is oven-dried on site in accordance with State of Hawaii health requirements, then hand-packaged, hand-labeled, and readied for shipping. Whether it’s a single grinder, or full pallets shipped by sea, we make certain every order of Kona Sea SaltTM arrives as quickly and affordably as possible from our Kona production site.
Why do we produce our salt entirely by hand? Sustainability is important to Mera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. By subscribing to the principle of ‘hand-made’ quality, our company also ensures employment for its dedicated staff.

Kona Sea Salt Flakes

100% Natural Deep Sea Water Salt
Hawaiian Sun Dried
Rich in Essential Trace Minerals

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Price: $15.95

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Kona Sea Salt, 100% Natural, Sun Dried, Refillable Grinder (2.55 Oz., 72g) by Mera Pharmaceuticals

Kona Sea Salt, 100% Natural, Sun Dried, Refillable Grinder (2.55 Oz., 72g)
2.55 oz

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Price: $38.86

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Hawaiian Kona Deep Sea Salt

Contents: 170
Ingredients: sea salt
Product size (height x depth x width): 180.0mmX50

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Price: $24.37

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