Salt is one of those substances that you use every day but probably don't give much thought to, but cook a meal without salt, you can readily detect its absence!
Most salt actually came from mining, others derived from the evaporation of seawater, and some from creating salt brines. They will all be available in different sizes, and different mineral mixes which make them taste different.
Way back in Roman times, salt was quite valuable that Roman Soldiers were paid off not by cash but with salt. At some point, Salt was even called white gold.
The Philippines does produce a variety of salt. One that the country is proud of is the production of one of the rarest salt in the world, Asin Tibouk.
The Asin Tibouk (Unbroken Salt) is a kind of which you need to kind of cut blocks off and let that dissolve in your food. It genuinely tastes so salty that it makes you think of a very salty sea. It is known for its sharp taste with smoky and fruity undertones and has been described as the purest and cleanest artisanal sea salt.
There are few families left who have dedicated their life ambition to preserving this age-old craft in the south-central part of the Philippines. One of these is the Manongas Family in the Province of Bohol.
One of the makers of Asin Tibuok, Nestor Manongas, in his interview with FEATR shared that the Asin Tibouk is traditionally produced using a method that needs months of planning as well as painstaking attention to detail and attentiveness.
Coconut husks are immersed in seawater for a number of months in order to absorb sea minerals. The husks are then broken up into little bits and dried in the sun. The husks are then carefully burned for several days with local hardwoods to produce a mixture of coconut charcoal and ash. The seawater is then carefully roasted in clay pots while being filtered via activated charcoal, forming a solid dome of salt. The fire and heat must be controlled so the clay pots do not break or get too hot.
This procedure takes the entire day because salt and fire cannot be left alone. The salt must cool for the entire evening before it can be handled.
This articulate procedure of Asin Tibouk making is on the brink of extinction. The few families who are living the tradition and culture are slowly vanishing.
Today in Bohol, these few families left who have dedicated their life ambition to preserving this age-old craft. Aim to draw attention to this artisanal salt by allowing the few who visit the Asinan a chance to interact with the family and learn the lore and technique of this authentic artisanal salt – one of the rarest in the world, so as not to be lost to time as well.