Having lived in New Zealand for nine years, Waltraud Rijavec was homesick for her native Austria. Memories of mushroom-picking lead her to create her own brand of infused salt. She spoke to the team about how the business has progressed.
What is your company background, how did you start the business?
“Allblacksalt was established in 2015, after we moved from Auckland to the winterless North. My husband, Manfred Rijavec and myself, Waltraud Rijavec are the owners of our company called Nuttingbetter Ltd., and we sell our unique salt creations under the name Allblackssalt, because a few of our early creations are black – Black and Peppery and Black Forest.
The response to our salt creations was so overwhelming, rather unexpected , and I could not stop trying new variations, experimenting with different herbs, spices and other ingredients and I am still not running out of new ideas. Some creations only made it to the first stage like Sinbad’s Treasure (coffee based to be used for Moroccan dishes). The market is not ready yet for something completely different but the time will come to give this creation a second chance.
With every new creation I want to tell a story and to take the user on a journey which indulges all senses, the smell, the look, the taste and the reward to create your own dish with our creations. I only can give you a product, what you are creating with it is all up to you and your imagination.
With all creations I had also the health benefit of every single ingredient in mind. All our products are gluten free, except one (Beer BQ – beer infused salt for your BBQ) and I am always trying to avoid ingredients which are known to trigger allergic reactions.
All our products are without artificial colouring, no preservatives, no additives, no fillers, just pure natural ingredients. The base is always 100% natural New Zealand sea salt, untreated, unrefined, unbleached. We always try to source organically local grown herbs and spices and natural ingredients.
Our salt creations already come in a high quality grinder which is refillable, reusable and it can be adjusted, depending on how coarse or fine you would like to use the salt. You can choose between 90 g and 200 g glass grinders with a ceramic core. We also offer a wide range of refills from 60 g samplers up to 500 g refills for the hospitality trade. Refills are available in zip lock bags or glass jars depending on your requirements.
All salt creations can be used as a table salt, finishing salt or use it for your cooking.”
What is the current product range and variants and how do these products stand out in the market?
“At the moment we have 12 different salt creations on the market and a few stowed away for future use, some are only at the testing stage and many more are just in my head.
There is a salt for every taste and every occasion. If you like it hot we have Orange Death, Salt infused with Ghost Chilli, 400 times hotter than Tabasco Sauce;
Black and Peppery, salt with Activated Charcoal for your tummy and kawakawa leaves for your overall health;
Dolce Vita, Red wine infused salt with oregano and rosemary;
Italian Dream, salt infused with balsamic vinegar and 5 different Italian herbs;
Beer BQ, Beer infused salt with smoked paprika ideal for your BBQ;
Sunrise, salt infused with turmeric, ginger, garlic and lemon pepper, ideal for fish;
Tequila Sunrise, we added the tequila part to our sunrise creation, infused with hibiscus flowers and pink pepper, 2 colours and flavours in one grinder;
Batata, salt with onion flakes, garlic flakes and kumara leaves, ideal for roasted vegetables;
Red Velvet, salt infused with blueberries, rose petals, rosewater and lemon zest, an eye catcher on its own;
Pink Sensation, salt infused with beetroot powder, pink pepper corns and parsley to add earthy goodness to your plate;
Green Temptation, Infused with basil and chives, like pesto in a grinder;
Black Forest, activated charcoal, porcini mushroom powder to discover the taste of wild mushrooms;
SFC, my approach to the world famous chicken seasoning with 13 secret ingredients, not only for chicken.
For some creations I had to use different techniques to come to the desired result in taste, colour and shelf live. There are many salt products on the market but most of those products are just a mix of salt with different herbs and spices but only a few products are like our creations. Imagine: You have a salt grinder filled with salt, ground pepper and dried herbs. The fine particles will sink to the bottom of the glass and you will only get taste of the salt with your full grinder and only at the end the taste of the other ingredients.
Our approach is completely different. We infuse the salt with the ingredients to give you a consistent colour and taste, not depending how full or empty the salt mill is. Every single salt grain is covered with a fine layer of the ingredient and will mix perfectly once grinded.”
Has there been any recent company news?
“Just recently we launched a new product and to give you an insight how long it takes and what is involved I would like to tell you a story.
One morning I woke up and I felt very homesick – I am Austrian and lived in New Zealand for nine years now. I missed one of my favourite hobbies, picking mushrooms. The same day I created a salt which I called, Black Forest.
It is early morning, the grass and moss is still damp, the pine trees appear very dark and you can hear only a few birds just awaking. The moss under your feet is very soft and only when you step on the fallen branches the silence is broken.
You can smell the fresh air, the pine trees and the damp moss. If you go deeper into the forest you are getting excited, you know this smell, where is it coming from? You are following this earthy, promising smell. And yes, you can see it beneath the majestic old pine tree, this brown cap, nearly hidden beneath the moss balls; you found the treasure you were looking for, a nice brown delicious Porcini Mushroom.
When I created the Black Forest I had to change the process of infusing salt. Instead of using a liquid for infusion I had to use a powder, Activated Charcoal.
The first step was using the Activated Charcoal to get the desired colour. Then add the other ingredients, Porcini Mushroom Powder, garlic granulates, juniper berries, chilli flakes and the last ingredient dried lovage leaves for the flavour, the taste and the smell.
The mission was to capture the experience going into the forest foraging for wild mushrooms. You should get the feeling, the smell, the taste, the colour and the flavour by using this product.
Like any other of my creations it takes about six month before a product is going on the market. The product is going through many testing stages.
- Balance of flavours.
- Research of Health Benefits of used ingredients.
- Testing the salt on different foods (meat, chicken, vegetables, cheese, seafood and eggs).
- Testing the shelf life (changes in taste, colour).
- Testing the market quality (selling on farmers markets and evaluating the feedback and response and looking at the sales figures).”
What are the plans for the business moving forward, is there any expansion on the horizon?
“The plans for the future are to get more wholesale outlets for our current products and to create new products like readymade seasonings. The first one is currently in the testing stage and it can be used as a rub for all Greek inspired dishes like Gyros, Souvlaki or any steak.”
Where are your products currently available to buy, and are you looking at or wanting to expand your availability?
“Our products can be purchased at our online store (www.allblacksalt.nz) and we use a few farmers and artisan markets (Old Packhouse Kerikeri, Whangarei Bridge Market, Waipu, Marsden Point, Ngunguru and others) as a platform to reach the public. We have cooperation with our local Whangarei Food co-op and our product range will be available in the next few weeks online at Kai. We supply specialized food stores in North- and South Island and top quality restaurants. We are still looking for some distribution partners like health food stores and alike.”