It started with a hog.
Well, technically, it started when Rustin and Teresa Gooden met while working in a hostel in the Everglades of Florida. Fast forward a few years, throw in a smattering of travel to places like Alaska and Portland, a farming apprenticeship (Teresa), graduation from Portland State (Rustin), and the two settled in their home in McClellanville, South Carolina, prepping for a hog roast in hopes of making friends with the neighbors.
After brining said hog with saltwater, they soon discovered their potluck dinner guests enjoyed the salt the smoker left behind just as much—if not more—than the hog itself. “I remember seeing people eat spoonfuls of it, and we were like, ‘um, that’s salt you know,’” Teresa laughed. And so, the seed of what is now Bulls Bay Saltworks was planted.
The salt-making process begins with water collected at high tide from Bulls Bay, an area carefully monitored by the Department of Health and Environmental Control. After a solar-powered evaporation process, flaky (and smack-your-momma-good) salt comes to life. The process itself isn’t easy, and Rustin and Teresa will be the first to admit that they don’t sleep much and learn something new every day. Like that time Rustin spilled 500 pounds of salt (that’s three to four months of work for you salt novices out there), for instance. Their response? “We didn’t get angry—we got a little sad,” says Teresa.
“Yeah, but then we just kept moving and went to go get some more salt water,” Rustin adds.
That laid back attitude, combined with their passion for a sustainable lifestyle and love of the Lowcountry community, makes them more than your average artisan salt makers. Though the two have put in tons of man hours and encountered major obstacles (like losing their home to fire), the humble couple are quick to point in the direction of others in town when it comes to their growing success, noting a long list of locals who rooted for them from the start.
Passing the salt just got a whole lot tougher.