We use cookies on our website to make your experience better and to help us monitor and improve our customer service. If you continue without changing your settings we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies. You can manage the use of cookies through your browser. Read how we use cookies on our Privacy Policy page.

[skip to navigation]

You are here:

Shopping in Cornwall

Cornish Sea Salt Company

September 29, 2015 No Comments

zsea-salt-flakes-150g

The story of Cornish Sea Salt starts on the windswept coastal paths of the Lizard Peninsula and the exposed remains of an Iron Age salt works. Tony Fraser, Cornish Sea Salts founder, was exploring the site when somewhere in the back of his mind a light bulb went off. So with little experience, but determination, a great idea and a little investment, The Cornish Sea Salt Company was born.

11 years after their first production and sales, Cornish Sea Salt is going from strength to strength. They’ve new products in the pipeline – not all of them food based – are selling in Waitrose, are exporting to 16 different countries and are looking to break into the American market next. We even spotted their eye catching logo on the shelves of a tiny deli near Beatrix Potter’s house in the Lake District.

We here at Cornish Holiday Cottages were lucky enough to be invited on a tour of Cornish Sea Salt’s factories last week and found ourselves fascinated by an industry that hasn’t been present in Cornwall since the mid 1800s.

Director Philip Tanswell was our guide for the day and is a wealth of knowledge on all things salt: from the beginnings of the company, the content and purity of the water, the engineering involved in salt’s extraction to the minerals in, and the taste of, their products. We’re not going to lie, some of the more technical aspects may have flown over our head, but we’re now considering ourselves bonafide experts on all things sodium chloride.

The salt works are a 20 minute drive from Helston, down some of the smallest country lanes on the Lizard, winding down to the coast. As we arrive, we pass an old MOD building which is where they used to test torpedo speeds during World War II and the now defunct Dean Quarry.

As we pull up to the plant, a mere 8 metres from the sea shore, Phil explains to us the unique qualities of the salt extracted at the site. With currents coming in off the Atlantic and the cleanliness of the water, the salt is naturally white: there’s no bleaching in the Cornish Sea Salt process. Water is pumped into the factory from a small pump nestled into the coastal rocks and from there is sent through a series of pumps and into the salt extraction units. This bit is hush hush and is the main difference between Cornish Sea Salt and their competitors.

From there we donned hairnets and boiler suits – plus a very flattering beard mask for myself – before we were ushered in to the evaporation room. Here there are trays of briny water evaporating away for salt extraction. There are several different types of salt extracted here: on the surface you get the light, fluffy gourmet flakes, which are perfect for sprinkling over your food; next you get the more cube-like crystals, soft and perfect for crumbling into recipes and as a table salt.

SONY DSC

One of the unique selling points is the natural and environmentally friendly nature of their product. The company has a very good idea of the mineral content of the waters they extract from and as it’s an unrefined product it’s all in the tub, along with the salt. This means that it retains over sixty naturally occurring trace elements such as potassium, calcium and magnesium.

One of the tanks had turned a milky colour. It’d been over-evaporated and when this happens the salt is useless or bittern. It happens occasionally. Phil tells us to dip our fingers in: the flavour is incredibly bitter and, to paraphrase, is akin to horse-urine. Not that any of us on the tour have any experience in that department. In comparison the rest of the tanks have a mild, smooth saltiness to them – much like the final product.

From here we were driven to their mixing and packaging plant.  A farm building that is close to bursting at the seams with activity. It’s a sign of a company that are good at what they do – and getting better. They have a passion for all things salty. They also have a community spirit and are looking to make connections with other local businesses, such as the Cornish Seaweed Company.

SONY DSC

Although they aren’t open to the general public, a coastal walk along the coast from Porthallow to Coverack will take you right by the factory, as well as the towering port walls of and abandoned quarry port.

zsea-salt-flakes-close-up

To sample some of Cornish Sea Salt wares and taste what all the fuss is about head to almost any local deli near our holiday cottages, Waitrose, or maybe even you own local deli.

 

thecornishhighstreet.com

December 8, 2014 No Comments

Cornish high street

Remember that lovely little shop in that quaint harbour town you visited while staying in your Cornish Holiday Cottage in the summer? There was that perfect Christmas present there, wasn’t there? If only you’d bought it then and there.

Last week we hinted at something Cornish that would help with your present buying from out of county; something that will give you hope if you’re wanting something unique and Cornish. That thing is thecornishhighstreet.com

With a mission to help small independent Cornish designers and producers reach a larger online audience, The Cornish High Street aims to put you in contact with products special, unique and unavailable elsewhere.

The site was founded and created by Jenny Pickles and Emilie Calhaem. Who met at a Crowdfunder event and bonded over their love of the county’s artisan food brands and a desire to find a place for designers, creatives and artists to come together online. In interviews the pair have said: “We as a company do the hard work, promoting the site, developing customer loyalty so that producers and designers can concentrate on doing what they do best, making and designing more beautiful things.”
The online shop carries lots of one of a kind items like pendants and jewellery, changing on a regular basis, as well as sections specifically for men, women and children. You can even have traditional Cornish pasties delivered right to your door via FedEx, made the morning of delivery and ready to eat upon their arrival. Some of our CHC customers claim that they’ve managed to reach London with a still warm pasty.

In the long term, the pair wants to build on ‘Cornwall’ and ‘Cornish’ as a national brand and “further promote all the things that Cornwall has to offer.”
From our perch, here at Cornish Holiday Cottages, we feel that they’ve only really begun to scratch the surface of the creativity and produce we have down here, but they are off to a good start. And with your support they could build a lucrative co-operative away from the mass-marketed world of the high street and the shopping complex.

Just in time for Christmas too: they have a dedicated Christmas section of the site. They themselves have said it best: If only we had more time to potter about and explore all that’s on offer.

Cornish Craft and Gift Fairs

November 28, 2014 No Comments

shutterstock_christmas decor-cornwall

We’re experiencing a pressureless hinterland at the moment. I’m talking about Christmas of course. December the 25th is still miles away and it feels like giving it your full attention now is like caving in to the onslaught of high street consumerism and belittling the event itself.  But, alas if we don’t keep half an eye on it now, it’ll rear its horns and we’ll be back to the mid-December dash that we’ve promised ourselves we’ll avoid this year.

 

This weekend is the perfect opportunity to grab some unique stocking fillers at Truro’s Made In Cornwall Christmas Fair: a five-day extravaganza that takes place from Wednesday 26th to Sunday 30th November.

 

Closer to home, this Saturday sees the opening of Penryn’s Christmas Pop-up shop, on Islington Wharf. Islington Wharf is a small, hidden Penryn gem, housing one of our best-kept-secrets in ‘The Wharf’, a Spanish tapas restaurant, who do great king prawns and fried calamari, as well as a fish-mongers, and a deli, for those of you who fancy cooking with local ingredients while on holiday. The Pop-up shop itself is a quiet celebration of local produce and crafts with hampers of mixed food items, cushions, prints, woodcarvings and clothing.

 

A personal favourite on the gift front this year is produce by the Cornish Ketchup Company. For not much more than a bottle of Heinz, this small, growing business offer an intense variety of flavours. I think quite a few non-Cornish relatives of my own will be getting a bottle this year.

 

So, there are no excuses for not getting ourselves Christmas ready at a more leisurely pace this year. And for those of you who are reading this away from Cornwall, but with something Cornish in mind this Christmas – watch this space. We’ve just caught a glimpse of something that may hit the spot, but more on that next week.

 

Did you know Cornwall is the largest creative hub outside of London?

October 7, 2014 No Comments

Falmouth-cornish holiday cottages-42

Falmouth has always been an arty place, and since the expansion of the School of Art to Falmouth University the town is alive with creativity.

There are many ways to get involved whilst down on holiday, with local markets selling homemade items and an abundance of independent shops selling locally crafted goods. The high street also hosts many art galleries, selling small cheaper prints to extravagant paintings and pottery.

Take a trip to the old cinema ‘The Poly’ in the center of town, with weekly changing exhibitions and evening events from shows to art house films and new to 2014 their very own tearoom upstairs. The building itself is very impressive with high ceilings and beautiful features, with ever changing exhibitions you never know what you may find!