In continuation of our series, which puts a spotlight on the origin story of SIMPLi's ingredients, we’re taking you to the magical Maras Salt Mines in the Sacred Valley of Peru’s Cusco region.
These majestic mines were carved into the side of a mountain by the Indigenous people of the Andes more than a thousand years ago. SIMPLi’s salt comes from centuries-old pools owned by the family of Yolanda Acurio Mendoza, who runs the Comunidad Salinera de Maras, a woman-owned co-op committed to fighting the exploitative nature of the unregulated salt market in Peru.
WHAT ARE MARAS SALT MINES?
Perched atop a high plateau in the Cusco region of Peru lies "Salineras de Maras" or the Maras salt mines. This ancient site is a testament to the country's rich history and culture around food, as well as its respect for Pachamama, or Mother Earth—a goddess revered by the Indigenous people of the Andes. Maras is also the source of one of the world's most unique and delicious salts: the artisanal salt of Maras. Harvested entirely by hand, this salt is known for its mineral-rich content and pink-hued color.
The Maras salt mines have been in operation for over 1,500 years, and the process of salt extraction has remained largely unchanged for centuries. The mines themselves are a series of terraced ponds, each about the size of a large dining table, carved into the side of an Andean cliff.
Water from natural springs in the Andes mountains flows through a network of channels into the ponds, where it evaporates naturally in the sun, leaving behind a layer of salt. This salt is then harvested by stepping on the salt in the ponds with special boots to loosen the salt crystals and scooped into wooden baskets by hand. This process has been passed down from generation to generation.
WHAT MAKES MARAS SALT SO SPECIAL?
These artisanal salts are completely natural and unrefined. Unlike commercial table salt, which is heavily processed and often contains additives, Maras salt is simply harvested, cleaned, and packaged. This process preserves the natural mineral content of the salt, which is said to have a beneficial effect on health and nutrition. As a result, our sacred valley salts are rich in essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium.
We worked with Yolanda to develop three different varieties of salt—one pure pink salt and two salt blends—that can be used throughout the entire cooking process, from prepping to finishing.
The Peruvian Pink Finishing Salt is the perfect addition to any pantry. The salt has a mildly tangy taste and a blush pink color that adds a touch of sophistication to any dish. Its medium grind size of 0.9 mm is between fine kosher salt and crunchy finishing salt, making it versatile enough to be used for seasoning or as a finishing touch.
The Peruvian Herb Salt Blend combines herbs from the Sacred Valley in Peru, including rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and sage, to create a unique flavor that is herbaceous, sweet, and aromatic. This salt blend has a small grind size that is comparable to fine kosher salt, making it perfect for use throughout the cooking process or served with olive oil for dipping.
Finally, the Peruvian Spice Salt Blend is mildly spicy and combines herbs from the Sacred Valley in Peru, including Huacatay, panca pepper, yellow pepper, cumin, and garlic. This salt blend has a small grind size that is perfect for use in marinades and sauces to add a dose of heat to your favorite dishes. With these unique salt blends from the Peruvian mined of Maras, you can add a touch of sophistication and flavor to any dish.