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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Best American Artisans

20 Incredible Artisanal Foods to Try Now

Malvi's <a href="http://www.mouth.com/products/raspberry-hibiscus-marshmallow-sandwich-cookie">Raspberry & Hibiscus Marshmallow Cookie</a>

Food & Wine editors are always on the hunt for the country's best artisans. Now, we're sharing our ultimate shopping list. Today, we launched Food & Wine Selects in collaboration with the indie food purveyors at MOUTH.com.

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American Flavor

Jacobsen Salt Co.: Small-Batch Brininess

Jacobsen Salt Co.

The country's most talented artisans are turning out better versions of kitchen basics like granola, honey and sea salt.

Ben Jacobsen discovered great salt when he traveled abroad after college, buying it everywhere from Denmark to South Africa. "It transformed everything I put it on," he says. In 2009, a couple years after returning home to Oregon, he set out to make his own salt: "I figured that if Maldon comes from the UK, which has a similar climate to the Pacific Northwest, this had to be possible."

Jacobsen spent the next two-and-a-half years testing seawater in dozens of spots. "The taste and salinity of the salt varied incredibly," he says. "It was the same way that terroir affects wine." He finally settled on Netarts Bay, 80 miles west of Portland, hand-pumping seawater into plastic drums that he would transport to a commercial kitchen in the city, then painstakingly collecting flakes of salt by hand with a custom-made strainer.

Within a couple of years, Jacobsen had gone from producing three pounds of salt a week to 300, and his customer list had grown to include big-name chefs like Chris Cosentino, Thomas Keller and Paul Kahan. Recently, Jacobsen Salt Co. moved its seven employees into a 3,500-square-foot workspace on the Oregon coast. But its owner has no plans to alter his low-tech production methods. "The quality has to be there," he says. "That's why we're here." $3.50 for 0.2 oz; jacobsensalt.com

Related: Small-Batch Superstars
Lessons from Salt Guru Mark Bitterman
Great American Artisans

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

Run with chefs and wine experts in the Celebrity Chef 5K and dance all night at Gail Simmons’ Last Bite Dessert Party during the FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen, June 20-22.