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Food Hero: The Taipa Salt Pig

Food Hero: The Taipa Salt Pig

Taipa Salt Pig

James Moore – Taipa

Harvested from the sparkling seas of the far north, James Moore’s artisanal salt is making waves in New Zealand’s foodie scene. The Taipa Salt Pig started life – somewhat ironically – in the country’s most inland city, in the throes of a worldwide upheaval. James Moore was running a large import business in Hamilton when the Global Financial Crisis hit. Suddenly, the debt collectors he’d been putting to work for years were lining up outside his house. ‘It was awful,’ says James. ‘I was a 45-year-old man who had just been bankrupted. At that point everything in your life seems to grind to a halt.’ James took up work as a postie; an overnight transition that proved to be exactly what he needed to start the next chapter. ‘It kept my sanity together,’ says James.

‘I had time to think about the future, and salt was one of the things I came up with. I couldn’t see anyone making artisan salt in any great quantity.’ After a bit of research, James embarked on his first salt harvest, using a makeshift setup in his backyard with water brought in from Raglan, 50 kilometres away. Within eight weeks he had three kilos of salt, enough to prove that the idea had legs. From there, he began refining the process and tinkering with the flavoured salts that would soon become a Salt Pig staple.

Within a few years, James and his wife, Yasmin, were ready for a change of scene. The couple found a property in Taipa, a stone’s throw from the beautifully clear waters of the far north. They transformed an empty shed into their dream home and James set to work building the first of three evaporator units. ‘I learned it was really hard to make salt consistently, at a sustainable level,’ says James. ‘We got 20kg from the first salt house, which I realised was never going to be enough. So, we built a giant, north-facing terrace which was a monumental step up in production – up to 70kg a batch.’

Another milestone came when James expanded the operation to include a water plant on his neighbour’s property. The plant not only concentrates the seawater and triples his salt production, but also yields a covetable by-product: New Zealand’s first de-salinated fresh water, created using nothing but natural solar energy. Although he says he’s reluctant to use that ‘sustainability’ buzzword, James’ efforts to minimise any environmental impact have to be commended. ‘We’ve done our best to make the whole operation as sympathetic as it can possibly be,’ he says. ‘I still bucket-run the water. The old fashioned way doesn’t cost you anything other than a bit of time and it’s good for your health. The 10km drive to the beach is our only carbon cost, so I’m just waiting for someone to bring out an electric ute and we’re away!’ Find The Taipa Salt Pig’s natural and flavoured salts in our grocery section.

 

Worth its salt
Perfect pairings from the Salt Pig himself

Squid Ink Salt: A real show-stopper. Delicious with pasta, tomatoes, or avo toast.

Chilli Salt: A punchy finishing salt that’s great for spicing up a stirfry.

Citrus Salt: Fresh and zesty, try it with fish, poultry, and sprinkled over salads.

Garlic Salt: A universal crowd-pleaser. Great on grilled meat or in sauces.

Rosemary Salt: A classic and a real fan favourite. Perfect with roast lamb and spuds.