A trip to Kusamba Village should make you take a moment and cherish every dish you have on your table, at least during your stay in Bali. For every heavenly taste on your tastebuds, you owe some humble salt farmers. Salt farming in Kusamba Village is not just labour, it’s also a tradition passed from generation to generation.
The Balinese tradition of salt farming dates back almost a thousand years, but has only recently gained recognition from fascinated tourists and salt connoisseurs. Both tourists and consumers are willing to pay for natural sea salt which is harvested from the top surface of crystallized, unspoiled, sea water by the small farmers of Kusamba village, a Balinese traditional fishing village.
Many generations have benefited from Kusamba’s unique geographical location, using their conventional method of harvesting, to produce natural salt with a truly distinctive texture and subtle flavour. Salt farmers live together in modest huts on the beach displaying the strength required to persevere under these difficult conditions. This could be the last generation of salt farmers on Bali. Whilst on a trip to this picturesque village, a tour guide met me wearing local costume. She invited our tourist group to visit a modest shack where Kusamba villagers were busy processing sea salt ready for us to purchase and enjoy.
Salt farming in Kusamba Village is not just labour, it’s also a tradition passed from generation to generation. The farmers use conventional ways of harvesting to produce natural salt with the most natural flavour and colour. Salt harvesting is a labour intensive process. The farmers make their way to and from the ocean with wooden or leather buckets weighing heavily on bamboo poles. They then splash the seawater in a rhythmic almost hypnotising motion across raked sand. Within a few hours, the hot Indonesian sun bakes the sand into flakes from which the salt is to be harvested. The flakes of salt are then washed with fresh water in wooden drums to create saltwater brine which is then poured over timber planks for further evaporation. It’s quite a process for a small return – on a hot day a farmer will produce around 10 kilograms of salt that they will sell for around 100,000 rupiah.
There’s something special about walking along the black sand beach of Kusamba, watching the daily village rituals come to life. So when you’re done with your regular sightseeing in Bali, jump off the tourist trail and head over to Kusamba Beach.
The flavour of Kusamba salt is mild and sweet, no grinding necessary. Throw it liberally on vine-ripened tomatoes, fat avocados, into salad dressing, curries and even sweet dishes. And apart from a sensual gourmet experience, you will also be supporting the people of Kusamba, who have dedicated their lives to this wonderful trade.
How to get there:
About an hour’s drive east of Sanur, the little village of Kusamba is located on a quiet volcanic black-sand beach. Local salt farmers live in basic huts right on the beach and still mine salt in the tradtional way. Visitors can watch how the salt is produced, and buy local products at a very affordable price from the farmers themselves.
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