By Jo McGarry 9/5/2012
Laura Cristobal was a bit of a salty kid.
“I made my first salt seasoning when I was about 11 years old,” says the founder of Salty Wahine, a Kaua’i-based business that’s spreading Aloha through grains of Hawaii-sourced salt. “I’ve always loved cooking and making my own seasonings,” she adds, “and when I retired from the travel industry after 30 years, I wanted to see where the salt would take us.”
Already in more than 100 mom-and-pop stores throughout Hawaii and the Mainland, Salty Wahine products were showcased last week at the American Logistic Association Food Show, and will now be found in commissaries statewide. It will mean an increase in production for the Salty Wahine family business, but it also means exposure to the benefits of Hawaiian salt to hundreds of thousands of consumers.
Sean Cristobal and Jessika Montoya with founder Laura Cristobal. Photos from Jo McGarry.
“Hawaiian salt doesn’t just flavor foods,” says Cristobal. “It contains minerals and antioxidants that are health-giving. Our black lava salt, for example, naturally contains charcoal, which is good for people with acid reflux.”
Local island chefs love the seasonings, particularly Cristobal’s herb and fruit infusions. “We use fruit a lot,” she says. “Passion fruit, guava, mango – each kernel of salt has a splash of something special.”
Top-selling salts – there are more than a dozen on the market – include a kiawe-smoked salt, guava garlic, and the original simple-but-fabulous Hawaiian rub. One of the Cristobal family favorites is the Mango Java Rub – one tablespoon rubbed into meat and left to infuse for an hour or so results in remarkable flavor. “It’s crazy what coffee does for meat,” says Laura.
You’ll find Salty Wahine products at local stores, and there’s more information at saltywahine.com