In the first of our Meet the producer series, Alison Lea-Wilson of Halon Môn (The Anglesey Sea Salt Company) tells us about her enterprise and shares her recipes for salted caramel flapjacks and Welsh cakes with vanilla sea salt
Salt is the stuff of life. It's an essential ingredient for living, and I believe our handmade salt gives savour and zest to life.
It is so satisfying to make, I think of it as a form of alchemy. You're conjuring this stuff up out of water. As you see the crystals form, it feels as though you're present at the birth of something very special.
With sea water being such a large part of my life, I've come to respect it enormously, and to recognise that the sea is a living entity, and something to be carefully protected. The sea gives us life; it has been at the heart of our business and it's the essential ingredient that helps sustain me, my family and the 14 people we employ.
Living and working in this part of Anglesey, I feel nurtured by the sea. We look out at it from our tiny factory and I often find myself gazing at the sparkle in the water. On a windy day here on the straits, you can even taste the sea's salt on your lips. We're lucky because this part of Anglesey has a double tide. It sounds strange, but I sometimes get the sense that the sea is washing itself. It's fair to say that we have some of the country's cleanest seawater right here. When you taste Anglesey sea salt crystals, you're savouring a very special part of the Welsh landscape.
Salted caramel flapjacks
I was given this recipe by Pam Corbin of River Cottage. The salt takes the edge off the richness and emphasises the sweet, oaty flavour.
150g unsalted butter
200g light brown muscovado sugar
1 egg, beaten
175g plain or spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
175g mixed oats, spelt, rye and barley flakes
3 tbsp golden syrup
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 tsp sea salt
1 Preheat oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
2 Line a 20cm x 30cm baking tray with lightly greased baking parchment.
3 Heat the butter, sugar and milk in a saucepan until the butter has melted.
4 Remove from the heat and stir in all the other ingredients, combining well.
5 Press the mixture into the greased tin and bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Welshcakes with vanilla Halon Môn
This recipe uses our Tahitian vanilla salt, which is also delicious sprinkled on seared scallops.
350g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
175g unsalted butter, softened
A good pinch of Halen Môn vanilla sea salt
115g caster sugar
100g chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
1 Put the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2 Crumble in the vanilla sea salt and mix well.
3 Add the sugar and the chocolate and mix.
4 Add the milk and the beaten egg and mix to make a firm dough.
5 Roll out the dough on to a lightly floured work surface to a thickness of about 5mm and cut into circles roughly 7.5cm in diameter.
6 Grease your bakestone with butter (use a heavy-based frying pan if you haven't got a bakestone), and cook the cakes for about 3 minutes on each side.
7 Partially cool the cakes on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.Eat warm on the day you make them. They're delicious on their own, or with butter and jam.
• Reader offer Halen Môn is offering Guardian readers a free sample of their Tahitian vanilla sea salt when you spend more than £10 (excluding p&p) at halenmon.com. Enter GUARDIAN in the coupon box at checkout
'Living and working in this part of Anglesey, I feel nurtured by the sea.' Photograph: Dan Kenyon for the Guardian